Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

(Kiana) #1
Settling In 101

children, coupled with limits set by the one child policy, has
made a child a treasure in China.
Because of the talent and affection that Chinese have for
children, many families end up employing a full-time nanny
who takes care of the children at home. Many women with
teaching degrees offer themselves as nannies and make
wonderful caregivers for small children.
The only drawback to this solution is that it limits your child
interaction with others his or her age. There are part-time
daycare centres and schools that are available for children
three or older. Playgroups are also a good opportunity for both
children and mothers to make new friends. Most expatriate
publications and bulletin boards advertise groups.

Employing an Ayi

One of the most important members of your household
when you move to China is your ayi. The world ayi literally
means ‘auntie’ and is a form of respect that a person uses
to address an older woman. Becoming an instant member
of your household is bound to drive some culture shock on
both sides.
When choosing the right person to become your ayi, it
is important to look at employment history and references.
Included in this should be conversations with past employers
where you can closely question disciplinary standards,
levels of responsibility and ethics of past behaviour. For
those who find the culture gap too wide between Chinese
ayis and how they would prefer their homes run, there
are an increasing number of Filipinos in China seeking
domestic employment.
Many expats who hire nannies, particularly for young
children, pay for a physical exam before they begin
employment. They also pay for the nanny to take a first aid
course in Chinese for domestic helpers to better prepare the
nanny to identify and handle medical emergencies that may
arise in your absence.
Many ayis do not have household appliances in their own
homes, have only used them while employed to care for
other people’s houses, and will need to be trained in proper

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