A Cross-Cultural Upbringing in Dongguan

Note Atias is a Dongguan expat from Thailand, her husband is from Israel, and their kids attend a Chinese school.

What is the reason behind sending your kids to Chinese schools? 

Honestly, I feel like we’re living here [in China], and this is an opportunity for them to learn another language. We are speaking English at home, so I want them to learn Chinese in school.

As foreign kids attending Chinese schools, what are some challenges that your kids face? 

The Chinese language is challenging, even if [the kids] are born in China. They still have difficulty with reading and writing. Sometimes, my daughter says that “they don’t want to play with me” because she’s speaking in English most of the time. But I think it’s not a critical issue.

Do you have any challenges sending your kids to Chinese schools? 

My biggest challenge for raising the kids is the education system. There’s too much homework, and I cannot help them in Chinese. I don’t want my kids to lose their time for playing and enjoying their childhood. I want them to balance their time between doing well in school and having time to do creative things by themselves. I want them to find something they like—maybe they like music, maybe they like art, maybe they like dancing.

How do you make sure that your kids practice certain traditions? 

During every Jewish holiday, we celebrate it. For Hanukkah, we light candles. When we’re in Thailand, we take the kids to meet people and to temples. They see and they ask questions, then I give them an explanation [of my heritage].