After meeting 10-year-old Arsenia Zhou at an expat Chinese talent contest in Shenzhen in December 2017, it’s not easy to forget her sweet smile or her fluent Chinese, English and Romanian.
Zhou was born in Bucharest to Chinese and Romanian parents in 2009, nine years after her Romanian mother came to teach at a Shenzhen international school and became acquainted with a Chinese professor who later became her husband.
Starting from the age of 7, her mother Sava Tomoiaga would bring Zhou back to Romania for summer camps “to learn the Romanian language and culture with local kids.”
“She had to learn a lot of things and take care of herself,” Tomoiaga said. “We also learned outdoor survival,” Zhou added.
“I would give her some money to spend at the summer camps. However, I always told her that she should earn money if she wants to spend it. If you need money, you have to work for it, say, 10 yuan (US$1.44) for washing dishes after a meal.”
Actually, Tomoiaga and her husband are no penny pinchers. They have aided needy Chinese people through numerous charity events in Shenzhen. In May 2008, they donated money for the victims of the Wenchuan earthquake, which killed some 70,000 people.
The couple is proud of having a more than 5,000-book family library, most of which are in Chinese. They have put emphasis on cultivating their daughter’s and 4-year-old son Elian’s interest in Chinese culture.