Rae works at Sesame Workshop China office and manages its social impact and education programs. She wrote an article about the communities of left-behind children in China and how educational experiences, such as those offered by Sesame Workshop China, can help them to grow and develop. You can read her full-length article in the Community Issue of the Ottiya Magazine.
What is your favorite children’s book?
There are many children’s books that I absolutely adored, but my favorite has to be The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds. The seemingly simple story says so much about creativity, encouragement, and self-confidence. Highly recommend it to not only kids but educators and parents who haven’t read it.
What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
Climbing up to the top of giant trees with my cousin and watching the streets of my hometown gradually quiet down in sunset.
As you know, the theme of the first issue of Ottiya is ‘community’. What is community to you?
A space with an accepting and supportive ambience where people come together, either physically or virtually, to share experience, thoughts, and knowledge, and to learn from each other’s individuality and difference.
What’s one thing people might not know about Sesame Workshop China?
Sesame Workshop reaches millions of children in more than 150 counties through the power of media, but China is one of the very few countries where we have an actual office with people hitting the ground running. We are fairly small in size at this stage, but guess how many children we are aiming to reach – 150 million!
Who is your favorite Sesame Street character and why?
Oh, I love Oscar the Grouch. He is very different. Personally speaking, I love him because I think he has a grumpy kind of wisdom, and he is so honest and true. As an educator, I love him because I believe he is such an important character that helps young children understand emotions like anger and sadness, and teaches them about tolerance, perspective-taking, and empathy. Okay, enough reasons, now SCRAM! =D
Who are the ‘left behind children’ of China and what compelled you to write your article?
Just like the phrase “left behind” indicates, “left-behind children” are the children whose parents moved to big cities to work and who are left behind in remote rural villages to the inadequate care of their grandparents, or even worse, to no guardian at all.
Although most people in China are aware of the existence of this vulnerable group of children, people in other countries may not have heard of it. The term “left-behind children” is very context dependent, it is China-specific. It was caused by the rapid economic progress and urbanization of China in the past 30 years. Problems associated with these children are complicated and need immediate attention and action. At Sesame Workshop China, I am looking at possible ways to address these children’s specific needs, and I hope more people could be aware of the scale of the problem and join us to support these children’s development.
What’s the message you want people to take away after reading your article?
Be aware, be empathetic, and take actions. Just like Dr. Seuss said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Of course big problems take a long time and much diligence to solve, each small step should be valued and celebrated. There’s so little we as individuals could do, but there’s so much together we can achieve.
Interview/Editing: Rufina Park, Founder and Creative/Editorial Director of Ottiya