A classroom at a primary school in China.
Beijing Shuren Primary School, May 2015. ©

Michael Klosson.

I first came to China as an exchange student in 1986 and marveled at the bicycles and bustling markets.  

This trip inspired me to learn Chinese, and to go on to study the Politics of Asia and Africa. I’ve come back again and again – including a year on a British Council scholarship and to write my Master’s dissertation at Sichuan University in Chengdu. 

My first job after graduation was with the BBC World Service as a radio production assistant, and I had to pretend my Chinese was a bit better than it actually was!

I’ve worked in numerous China-related positions before returning back to the NGO-world and joining Save the Children in 2011 as their China Country Director. My time is divided between Beijing and projects in the field. 

The photo below is with some small children at a coal-mining city called Yining, where Save the Children is running some home-based pre-school care centres for the local children. I watched them with their care-givers, learning how to wash their hands, and play games. None of these children had seen a smartphone before and they really liked the photos on the phone. So I was there, with these three little children having bouts of giggles. It was very, very nice.

A young girl part of the Empower Youth For Education Project, Xinjiang, China, 2013 smiling at the camera.
Empower Youth For Education Project, Xinjiang, China, 2013. The project aims to empower the youth by equipping them with life and job skills, thus enabling them to find decent jobs in the future. 
Playing with two boys when visiting one of the Save the Children's projects.
Playing with two boys when visiting one of the Save the Children's projects.

China has made tremendous and hugely admirable improvements in access to education, but there is still work we can do in sharing learnings from outside China to help to improve the quality of that educational experience.

Discussing education, especially work to improve educational equity and quality for all children, has made me think deeply, not just about China’s education system, but also our system in the UK

As my home for well over a decade, China has been central to my life. Working and living here has been a journey of discovery – as well as discovery of myself and my values.

Note: Pia is also one of the Leading Lights for the Generation UK: China Network. The Leading Lights are successful individuals who have benefited from their time in China. The Leading Lights are in the best position to demonstrate just how valuable experience of China can be, and why it is so important to remain connected with China and with others who are interested in China.