The One and Only…

I come from a small family – Mom, Dad, my elder sister and me. I don’t have children of my own, and with the Chinese government’s one-child policy that was implemented from 1979 to 2015, my sister and brother-in-law could only have one daughter. Her nick name is Yaya (meaning: little girl) but now she’s 18 year old.

I have a very special spot for my niece in my heart, because she is the only offspring in my tiny family.

And …she is indeed very special, the one and only.

She is intelligent and driven. I don’t know what nutrition my sister was able to get during her pregnancy, but this daughter of hers has been a smart cookie from her day one in the kindergarten. Never a minute she would need her parents to tell her to do her homework or participate in a mathematic contest. She knows her schedule, sets her own priorities and aces her scores all the time. This is her last year in high school, and she has been admitted to all the top schools (pre-school, primary school, middle school and high school) in Beijing over the past 15 years.

She is an amazing artist that can do fashion illustrations, beyond my imagination, although all she can wear everyday to school is that same old, same old school uniform in mint colour. She will draw inspiration from anything she sees, the TV shows, people passing by on the street, magazines, internet, etc.. With a set of sharp eyes and curious minds, she is not going to let her creativity wasted.

She plays a few music instruments as well, such as piano, dulcimer, etc..

she is quite a traveller too. From North America to Europe; from Russia to south east Asia, She has visited, experienced and touched different cultures.

I’m bragging, but when someone is as excellent as her, how can you not? Believe me, she is not a bookworm but everything else.

I don’t know about you, but I did take some time to listen to the speeches by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, at the World Economic Forum last week. He highlighted two things:

1. To be successful, a person needs to have 3 Qs: IQ, EQ and LQ (Love Quotient – care for others) and women have advantages in all these areas. (

2. Everything we teach kids should be different than machine. Kids need to learn music, painting, teamwork and values & beliefs. (

The messages that Ma has delivered is extremely powerful and encouraging. I can see all these great qualities being represented by Yaya and many of other young students in China.

This new generation speaks fluent English, is eager to learn new knowledge, has access to the world, to the newest technology and to the values and beliefs that have deep roots in Chinese culture but yet in a modern and somewhat westernized format.

Yaya is lucky to be born in China in such a rapidly transforming era, and China is lucky to have this new generation to get ready to take the full responsibilities in bringing the country to the next level in the next decade.

This June, Yaya will be taking the National College Entrance Exam, also called gaokao or “the big test.” In 2016, 9.4 million students sat for the test. Notoriously stressful, the test has sparked harsh criticism for its high-stakes nature. It’s considered a prerequisite to get into college that puts an incredible amount of pressure on students.

When I asked Yaya if she’s anxious about the exams, she said in a very flat tone:” no I’m not. I do what I can. That’s it.”

I know how much weight that phrase “I can” holds, it holds hundreds of serious exams, thousands of nights and days dedicated to study, and tons of confidence.

Best of luck Yaya! You are a big girl now and you will fly far and high.

💕 💕 💕💕💕💕

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