We reached out to schools in Beijing to ask who was making an impact on their school communities. Our terms were loose, as we were curious about individuals who made a difference in leadership, community, and charity. We don’t feel like someone necessarily has to contribute to charity to be a community star, as sometimes a great, reliable friend in a school community can make just as much of an impact. Each of these stories is special, and we’re so proud to have had the chance to talk with these students and teachers.
Catherine Ma, Grade 5 student at The International Montessori School of Beijing
Not many can imagine having their first book published at the age of 9 – and that book being in two languages! But that’s the amazing achievement of Catherine Ma.
When we met, Ma explained her book’s imaginative title, “Greedy Eyes is a monster. I thought that maybe your eyes could be greedy like your mouth.”
We asked Ma how her book had come to be published.
“Mom gave my writing to this book publisher and he really liked it, so he wanted to publish a book,” she told me.
But if finding a publisher was easy, getting the book finished proved to be more of a challenge. “Before I published the book I thought it was easy to write a book and only takes a few days,” Ma said, “but I found it’s really hard. It took nearly a year.” Though at times of inspiration, she had fun, her mother helped her stay on track. “If I was eating a bowl of noodles my mom would say, ‘Why don’t you write about eating a bowl of noodles?’” She modestly acknowledged the help she received from her parents, teachers,and friends. But her talents are considerable, as she provided all the illustrations and translations.
“I published it for people who don’t know English, so they can learn,” she told us. “My first language is Chinese, but I’ve been learning English since starting at MSB in nursery.”
Ma also donated copies for the school to sell to raise money for field trips. And she’s inspired others around her; the school library now has a section called “MSB Authors” full of books written by students. We asked her what advice she would give to other young writers.
“Read more,” she said decisively. “I read a lot and got lots of ideas from the books I read, of different ways to write.”
Of the future she said she wants to be a writer. “I’m writing a fiction story but I’ve only just started it. It’s about a girl that has powers and she can control things with her eyes.” You can get hold of a copy of Greedy Eyes, her debut work, before she becomes famous via www.amazon.cn.
Photo courtesy of MSB
Download the digital copy here.