CLAUDE YING

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

The founder of Be­be­garten Group— and Hong Kong Tatler’s Most Promis­ing Young Lady of 2012— had an en­counter as a teenage trav­eller that sparked her de­sire to help oth­ers

Clau­dine Ying’s per­spec­tive was trans­formed at the age of 13 when her par­ents took her on a trip to In­ner Mon­go­lia. Up to then, she had only vis­ited de­vel­oped coun­tries and blithely as­sumed most peo­ple lived in con­di­tions sim­i­lar to her own. “From the mo­ment we touched down, I was frightened and in awe of what I saw. There were peo­ple sleep­ing on the roads in freez­ing con­di­tions and whole fam­i­lies liv­ing in one room. The trip opened my eyes to the suf­fer­ing all around us and some­times I even won­der if I would have gone into ed­u­ca­tion with­out it. I hadn’t been ex­posed to poverty be­fore, and my par­ents pur­posely took me to ru­ral ar­eas to show me the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion. I re­alised I had been so wrapped up in my own life that I had no idea how chil­dren in other coun­tries grew up.”

Dur­ing the trip, while they were in a re­mote vil­lage near the Rus­sian bor­der, a girl about her own age gave Ying a small toy ele­phant. The mem­ory of this spon­ta­neous act of gen­eros­ity from some­one who had so lit­tle has stayed with Ying ever since. “The girl wanted to make me happy, sim­ple as that. And I re­alised in that mo­ment that de­spite all my pre­vi­ous am­bi­tions of be­com­ing a lawyer, im­prov­ing the lives of oth­ers was the best pos­si­ble vo­ca­tion I could have.”

Ying went on to study so­cial work at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong and later founded a nurs­ery school called Be­be­garten Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in Aberdeen. Pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion and par­tic­u­larly about in­spir­ing chil­dren to learn from a very young age, she is also in­volved in the Yanai Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides school­books to un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren on the main­land. She’s plan­ning to ex­pand the Be­be­garten Group to Hainan next year.

“I am so happy and ful­filled in my work. It is a heavy bur­den on my shoul­ders and some­times I won­der if I should have done some­thing dif­fer­ent with my life, but ul­ti­mately, when­ever you’re work­ing with kids, the re­ward is worth any pain you suf­fer along the way.”

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