Fangshan Training Center: A Day at eChina City

Last week, the children in our care at the Fangshan Training Center were presented with a great opportunity.  On Saturday night, they were all busily trying to get their homework done before the next day came, and when asked why most of them replied that they weren’t exactly sure, but they knew something fun was coming.  Once Sunday morning rolled around, the children and most staff packed into two vehicles and traveled into the city, ending up at a large supermarket where we all traveled up to the top floor and entered ‘eChinaCity’.

These mini-cities are a sort of modern playground that has sprung up all over the world, taking up two floors and made up of tons of miniature companies, just as in a real city.  It is essentially a model city for children to play and learn in.  This particular place had something for everyone.  First, the children lined up and, very antsy, received their identification cards and their first ‘payday’, made up of forty eDollars.  Upon entering the ‘city’, everyone broke up into small groups to pursue whatever they were interested in.

Most of the older boys made a beeline for the ‘racetrack’, where they received a talk on car safety and then played a racing simulation game, paying ten of their precious eDollars immediately.  A few of them, not quite as forward-thinking, went back for a second go as soon as the first round was done.  The other boys scattered to other places, seeking out whatever was fun, though it hadn’t quite dawned on them that they had to earn money to do all the fun things they wanted to.

The girls were slightly more practical, putting together that the ‘play’ areas were engineered to make them spend their money quicker than they could earn it, forcing them to ‘work’.  So after scouting out all the work locations, a few girls went to the photo studio to act as photographers and models, another group went to the bank where they learned how to be a teller, and a final group went to a package delivery company and could be seen running all over the ‘city’ delivering packages for the next hour!  The girls continued like this, mostly, finding different jobs they liked and working rather than spending.  Though once one of them discovered the chocolate factory tucked away in a corner, their money was spent just as quickly as the boys’!

After some time, the boys found the security bureau and the army outpost, and were soon running around ‘guarding’ or ‘running missions’, shocked that this counted as a job.  There was some mild competition towards the end, but it was clear that one of the older kids was going to end up with the largest amount of cash.  Shortly before the city closed down, this money could be spent on items from a final shop, though it turned out that even the most thrifty of our children could only afford a small pin.  Those who had spent almost all their money still managed to get a sticker, though a couple boys decided their final dollars were better spent on one more go at the racing game.

This opportunity was made available to Fangshan from an education group reaching out and offering us a spot alongside some other institutions in Beijing, giving us free entry to what is otherwise a prohibitively expensive activity.  The entire day was spent in eChina City, and it ended with plenty of tired but happy kids.

Thanks to the people who presented this opportunity to Fangshan, and if you are ever looking for amateur bank tellers, security officers, deliverymen, or racecar drivers, we know where  to find them! =)

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