Shanghai Mamas partnered with Shanghai school for anniversary party
North Carolina native Melanie Ham is a mother of two and a founding member of the Shanghai Mamas. The group recently held their 10th annual Family Day at Yew Chung International School’s Hongqiao campus. Melanie spoke to us about bringing up a family in Shanghai.
The city has changed so much in recent years – tell us what Shanghai was like when you first arrived?
Yes, things were different – there were less expat families and getting some of the goods we take for granted now was very difficult. We also had to survive without WeChat! A few of us would get together for a playgroup on Friday mornings, and that was the beginning of Shanghai Mamas. Today, the organization has developed into an online community where people share ideas and support each other on parenting here in the city.
The recent anniversary Family Day at YCIS was a great success – can you share with us some of your highlights?
It was an awesome day! We had music, tons of games and activities for kids and adults, so many different kinds of food – and it was entirely organized by volunteer parents from the Shanghai Mamas community! That was what I really enjoyed seeing, people who interact on the Shanghai Mamas site meeting in person and sharing their experiences. Sometimes, living abroad can be challenging with a young family, and I think we were able to show that there is a support network of people in the same boat as you who want to share their knowledge, experience, and make new friends.
Why is it important schools like YCIS are part of these events?
YCIS recognizes the importance of supporting the wider community in Shanghai. My son attends the school, so I am familiar with them in that way, but they are also great at being part of the fabric of life here. I think they recognize that in the often transient nature of expat life, families want some support and stability. That is why Shanghai Mamas was delighted they got behind our Family Day once again and hosted us one of their campuses for the event.
How do you like to spend time with your family in Shanghai?
We love the city’s parks, and will often take our dog and spend the afternoon having a picnic outdoors to spend some time with each other. My daughter is a keen gymnast and my son plays a sport called floorball, so those classes help keep them busy and widens their circle of friends in the city.