Darius Kwang, 6, Singapore
My playground has a banana slide.
Jo Lusby is the managing director of Penguin Random House North Asia and a long-term expat, having lived in China for 17 years. She worked for a local foreign magazine before landing her current job ten years ago. Under her direction, Penguin Random House opened offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul. In addition, Lusby oversees the sales of imported books from the US and UK. She recently visited a Grade 5 class at the International School of Beijing (ISB) to answer questions about being a publisher.
The Flux Film Festival was started four years ago by a film teacher and student at Beijing City International School (BCIS) who wanted to create a showcase for student films.
“They recognized that kids were making films, but there was no outlet for them to stage them, or show them to judges who knew what they were talking about,” says Alan Fleming, an English and Humanities teacher at BCIS who is helping a student committee organize the festival this year. “This year, we are trying to establish a framework for the festival to make it more maintainable and sustainable going forward. But our main focus is always giving kids a platform to show their films to the world.”
In Beijing, children often develop close relationships with their ayis and drivers. Some kids have known their ayis since they were in diapers while others consider their daily ride to and from school with their family’s shifu a fact of life. But what are kids’ perspectives on those who help them every day? For our ayi-themed issue, we turned to Daystar Academy students to find out about some of the special ayis and shifus in their lives. We asked students to answer two big questions – what is gratitude and why is it important? As these youngsters remind us, any time is a good time to give thanks.
On arrival in Beijing, it quickly becomes apparent that almost everyone with the means to has an ayi. For some, the concept can be difficult to adjust to; the idea of having a stranger carry out the tedious household chores you are perfectly capable of performing yourself doesn’t always rest easy. For others, the transition to paying a reasonable wage for a clean home is a straightforward financial transaction. Whether employing an ayi comes easily to you or not, you will probably find it a blessing; a tidy home and an extra caretaker for your kids is a welcome relief. Read on to view the results of the beijingkids-sponsored 2014 Beijing Ayi Survey, which provides community-sourced information on salary ranges, holiday benefits, working hours, hongbao, language skills, and more.
Our family was interested in traveling to Myanmar because it had been closed off to tourists until recently and we had heard about the amazing experiences our friends had there. We decided to go over October holiday at a turbo-tourist pace so we could see as much of the country as possible. The four locations we visited were distinct and equally captivating.
It’s a bitterly cold Beijing morning with flurries of snow floating around us. I’m joining Nelly Alix from Beijing by Heart (who also took us on a visit of Guozijian last August) for a three-hour walking tour. We’ll be exploring the city’s past, with stops at the former residence of writer Lao She, the Red Building of the old Peking University, and Zhongshan Park, where writers gathered for artistic inspiration in the 1920s.
We begin the tour at Dengshikou (subway line 5, exit A) in Dongcheng District. Dengshikou got its name from the lantern market that used to take place here in the first month of the Chinese lunar year. The market was moved to the outer city in the Qing Dynasty, but the name remained.
Based in Perth, AJ Betts is the author of three young adult fiction novels: ShutterSpeed (2008), Wavelength (2010), and Zac and Mia (2013). Betts is also a teacher, public speaker, and avid cyclist. She’s currently working on her next novel set in the future in Tasmania.
Which books have made a deep impression on you?
[As a kid], I read everything I could get my hands on, from Mr. Men books to the back of cereal boxes. The most influential [books] would be Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, and anything by Robin Klein and Roald Dahl.
What was the very first story you wrote?
When I was 11, I wrote about two survivors of a shipwreck in an inflatable raft who were being chased by a shark. It was a comedy! In my teenage years, I either wrote silly comedies (about haunted houses and exploding cane toads) or dark thrillers.
My sister and I have a comfortable relationship now, but that wasn’t always the case. Growing up, the seven-year age gap made pop culture references hard to share. Exceptions included Pokémon, Disney movies, and the PC games we ran on our big brother figure Le’s Intel i386 computer, which boasted titles like Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders and Test Drive 3: The Passion.
Perhaps the greatest divide was literature. Separated by our reading levels, I pored over Goosebumps and The Baby-Sitters Club while Nancie sounded out Peter the Rabbit and Dr. Seuss. Then, Harry Potter came along.
While nightclubs litter the Gongti area, it still remains a great family-friendly destination during the light of day. Kite flyers can be found at the north entrance of Workers’ Stadium in the summer and the stadium itself has hosted crowds of enthusiastic fans cheering for the local team Beijing Guoan Football Club. If you’re looking for an easy-to-plan afternoon, the Workers’ Stadium is your giant playground. Browse a wide selection of French films and books, say hello to marine life at Blue Zoo Beijing and get the family into some healthy bowling competition at Gongti 100. From hot dogs and pizza to crepes and croissants, there’s also plenty of kid-friendly fare to keep the clan energized for the day’s activities.