23 Nov, 2017
10 : 00
In this week’s edition of Beijing Moms, we feature America Hernandez Calonge, mother of two Primary school children and active member of the Yew Chung International School of Beijing Parent Organization (PO).
Originally from Spain, America and her family have been members of the YCIS Beijing community for 3 years, where they’re recognized as one of the school’s warmest and friendliest families.
Below, America shares stories of why her family feels at home in YCIS Beijing, her role in the Parent Organisation, and her work as a consultant for Castilla La-Mancha, one of the most traditional regions of Spain.
Please introduce yourself and your family.
Hi there! I’m America, from Spain. I live in Beijing with my husband and two lovely children.
My wonderful husband Javier is a nuclear engineer who works as the operations manager of a Spanish energy company. My daughter, Little America, is a beautiful girl who always has a smile on her face. She just turned 7 and is in Ms Kang’s Year 3 class. My son, Adrian, is an adorable boy, always receiving hugs and kisses from his family. He’s in Ms McEvoy’s Year 1 class.
I’m an architect, but I no longer work in construction. I run a consulting company that represents one of the most traditional regions of Spain – Castilla-La Mancha – where you can travel back in time to the days of Spanish knights, princesses and castles, and the architecture and scenery of Don Quixote. We also represent Ferratus, an exclusive, traditional vineyard from Ribera del Duero, Spain, whose owner, Maria Luisa Cuebas, is both a wonderful woman and a trusted mentor.
Finally, I’m an ambassador for Monsalvat for Asia, a foundation that works to rebuild temples and hospitals in Nepal, and I’m the founder of a Women’s Chamber of Commerce for women entrepreneurs.
How did you learn about YCIS Beijing, and how many years has your family been a part of the YCIS Beijing community?
On one of our first days in Beijing, we saw a school advertisement in one of our favourite local restaurants. The photo depicted a young Primary student playing the violin – showing a focus on the arts – and the school seemed to have a familial atmosphere, which is exactly what we were searching for. We’ve been with YCIS Beijing now for three years.
Why did you choose YCIS Beijing?
The best advantage that YCIS Beijing has compared to other international schools is the bilingual programme. The co-teaching model provides children with the opportunity to learn within a truly multicultural environment.
The music, violin and art curriculum at YCIS Beijing is also amazing and provides the tools for our children to look at the world from a creative perspective. We also love that our children are taught Character Education.
When I was young, I studied in a small Catholic school in Spain where everyone knew and took care of each other. Now, at YCIS Beijing, our family feels the same sense of community, and that is one the aspects of the school that we love the most. When you first go into the school and everyone welcomes you with a smile and friendly words, you really feel that you are at home.
What changes have you and your family experienced during your time here?
When we arrived in Beijing, Europe was in the midst of an economic crisis, and my father had just passed away. It was a sad time for our family. So, for that reason, we saw moving to China as an exciting new beginning.
Now that Europe has recovered, my husband and I have thought that maybe we could return to Spain, but our children don’t want to. They first came to China when they were babies, so to them, China is their home and Spain is simply the place to go for holidays and to visit family and friends.
What is your role in the Parent Organisation (PO), and what does it mean to you to be a part of the PO?
I help with public relations, so I promote our events, design our invitations, and run our social media accounts and blog.
The PO is our family away from home. All of us are expat families, so we share our lives together here in Beijing. We take care of each other, in addition to organizing fun activities and events for the entire YCIS Beijing community.
What activities will the PO be organizing this year?
Next month is a busy month for the PO because of the holiday season. We’ll celebrate Christmas through events such as the Christmas Wish Project, the Christmas Bazaar and the Christmas PO Brunch.
And we are already organising our annual Charity Gala that will take place next semester. This year will be especially memorable, as we’re not only representing YCIS Beijing but also the entire Yew Chung Foundation. This is a great honour for us.
What advice would you give parents looking to get more active in school life?
I recommend them to join us, the YCIS Beijing Parent Organisation. Through the PO, they’ll be able to get involved in as much or as little as they’d like. There’s no rush to take on a lot of responsibly, but parents can simply come visit, take a look, and see if they would like to join. I think parents will love being in the PO once they take a look inside. It’s seriously worth it!