Li Mingbo, 5, has just had an exceptional day. He worked as a firefighter, an astronaut, a chef and a doctor, pulling in a total of 50 Beyou dollars. And, when it was all over, he donated the salaries to the Beyou charity.
“Please don’t disturb me, I am working. This is important,” Li said to his teacher as he put out a fire.
Li is one of 200 children, from Beijing 21st Century Experimental Kindergarten and Golden Cradle Kindergarten, who went to Beyou Children City in Beijing last week to try out various careers that included police officer, judge, pilot, dentist, cameraman, reporter and flight attendant.
The moment the children entered the 10,000-square-meter Children City, they put on uniforms and undertook different jobs.
They can earn Beyou money, a symbolic currency that while has no street value, can be exchanged in the city for sweets and drinks or given to a fictional charity.
Sun Feifei, 5, wearing a chef’s outfit, placed rice onto strips of seaweed on a bamboo mat before rolling it and cutting the food into pieces, all under the guidance of staff members.
“I have never tried sushi before,” she said. “It was yummy.”
Beyou is themed as a child-sized replica of a real city, including buildings, shops and theaters, as well as vehicles and pedestrians moving along its streets.
“In this city, children aged 3 through 12 learn about the adult world and the value of money and work by experiencing up to 60 professions,” said Xu Li, marketing specialist at the center.
She said the city is divided into three systems: political, financial and cultural. Children sitting at Beyou parliament once successfully voted for more chairs to be allocated to parents and teachers waiting for them at the entrance.
Xu added that most children learned that work was essential to provide necessities for a family and that it could be very demanding.
“After the activity, some begin to tell their parents, after work, that they have had long days and should take a rest,” she said.
Some educators believe it is a very educational activity.
Ryan Herlihy, an oral English teacher at the Beijing 21st Century Experimental Kindergarten, said his home country of Britain doesn’t have a similar project.
“Children here get a basic taste of different jobs while having lots of fun,” he said. “It is educational, entertaining and interactive.”
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