29 Sep, 2016
10 : 00
At the Yew Chung International School of Beijing, we believe that a caring, close-knit community is an important piece of any healthy and supportive school environment. The Parent’s Organization, or PO for short, plays no small role in the cultivation of the school’s familial community. We spoke with Western Co-President Eike Westerholt on the value of the PO at YCIS Beijing and how its extensive support network and frequent family-friendly events enriches the Beijing experience of students and their families.
Please introduce your family! E.g. nationality, number of family members, children’s ages, how long you’ve been in Beijing/China, etc.
My name is Eike Westerholt. I’m from Germany and have two children here at YCIS Beijing, Anna in Year 6 and Paula in Year 1. They’re starting their third year at YCIS Beijing and have been with the school since we moved here!
While this is the only city we’ve lived in in China, we’re not new to Asia; I’ve lived in Japan and Hong Kong in the past. We love Beijing, especially riding our bikes around the city and visiting the sites!
What made you choose YCIS Beijing initially?
When we first came to Beijing, we were looking for a school with a strong bilingual program. It’s a great opportunity while we’re here for our kids to learn Chinese. This was the major reason we chose YCIS Beijing; other schools only offer maybe an hour or two a week and their programmes aren’t very intensive. Since we’re guests here in the country, we thought it would be nice to be able to communicate in the local language! Not many schools have the level of involvement and commitment to Chinese language learning that YCIS Beijing does. The location of the school and where we live also gives us more of an opportunity to have a more authentic Beijing experience rather than living in an expat community outside of the city.
Is there anything about the school that surprised you?
The close sense of community among the parents was a pleasant surprise; everyone was very nice and it was easy to join in! Our little daughter fit into preschool quite easily despite not speaking English and Chinese. Now, after just two years, she’s fluent in three languages: German, English, and Chinese.
We really enjoy the small community feeling. It feels like a family; whenever you arrive on campus, there are always people there saying “hello” to you and a lot of the kids know each other very well.
Why did you want to be the Western Co-President of the Parent’s Organization?
When we first arrived at YCIS Beijing two years ago, one of my friends introduced me to the Parent’s Organization. I’ve only had good experiences here, so when the former parent relation officer asked if I’d like to become the new Western Co-President, I said yes! The PO is a great group of parents and we’ve got a lot of new members this year. The community is very supportive, active, and nice.
What are some of the responsibilities you have?
My main responsibilities would be coordinating the group and organizing the events together with the Chinese Co-President.
Why do you think the PO is so important? What can it offer to YCIS Beijing parents?
The PO is a very important part of the school community because it’s a community within the school! It’s a valuable support network for all parents, especially newcomers to the city or the school. There are lots of social networks; no matter your personality type, you’ll instantly feel at home!
We also set up events and such for kids too which are nice, including ice cream for kids, the Christmas bazaar, and staff appreciation. It’s the cherry on top of the YCIS Beijing cake!
What events does the PO organize each year? Any new events happening this year?
We organize a number of monthly events, including lunches, shopping trips, and meetings, plus annual events like the Christmas bazaar and Global Community Day. We also involve ourselves with a wide variety of charity work throughout the year.
This year, the PO is organizing a major Charity Gala for the first time. It’ll be a large event that will take place at the JW Marriot in March. The event will raise money for the YCIS charity Seeds of Hope, which constructs new schools in impoverished areas of rural China. It’s been a challenging process for us as there’s a lot of steps and organization to undertake, but we are all coming together as a group to pull it off. We’re very excited!
We’ll also be offering a variety of weekly classes for parents to attend, ranging from kung fu, to belly dancing, to calligraphy and painting, to language exchange; we’re sure you’ll be able to find something you’ll enjoy!