Yip Family Interview
August 2nd 2012
In this interview with the Yip family Mom, Dad, Emma and Anna all share stories about their participation with World Savvy and how it has helped them grow as a family and future leaders.
Tell us about your family. Who are you guys and what are some defining “Yip” characteristics?
My name is Chino Yip – father (or papa) to Emma and Anna Yip. I know World Savvy is about the students, but they do learn a tiny bit from their parents. Here’s a story from the Yip family album. From this you’ll understand why Emma and Anna are so driven.
My wife Julie and I met in Anchorage, Alaska in 1986. On March 24th, 1989 the Exxon Valdez supertanker struck Bligh Reef, spilling close to 11 million gallons of crude oil into pristine Prince William Sound. It is considered one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters ever to occur at sea. Julie was so moved by this tragic event that she immediately took leave from work and joined the volunteer efforts to assist in cleaning the oil covered sea birds and other wildlife. Upon returning to Anchorage, she made me promise to never buy Exxon gasoline again and then challenged me to not drive a car for one year.
Living in Alaska makes it difficult to ride a bike all winter so we flew to a warmer region and rode our bikes for a year loaded with tent, sleeping bags, etc. (actually we only made it to 10 months). And, to this day, we still haven’t purchased a drop of Exxon gasoline. In 1992 we moved from Alaska to Lombard Street in San Francisco where Emma was born. In 1994 we moved to Napa where Anna was born.
Emma and Anna went to Napa Valley Language Academy from K through 5th grade. The dual-immersion program of NVLA allowed them to grasp their basic studies in both English and Spanish. They then attended River Middle School from 6th to 8th grade. This project-based learning school also encourages students to respectfully ask questions outside the box. This is where Emma and Anna were introduced to World Savvy and the World Savvy Challenge.
They both attended New Technology High School (Anna is currently a senior), which is also project-based learning. Over the years, both Emma and Anna anxiously anticipated participating in the World Savvy Challenge every spring.
All three of these public schools have been instrumental in guiding Emma and Anna away from being “Me and Now” thinkers to “We -Tomorrow” visionaries. I remember when Emma was in the 6th grade she was beginning to “question authority”. After yelling “Litterbug” to a pedestrian who dropped a candy wrapper onto the street, I asked her, “Why are you yelling at him?” She looked at me and asked, “Why are you leaving me a damaged planet?”
We began to question our choices of child rearing. Julie and I chose to enroll our daughters in schools promoting “free thinking outside the box”. However, when your children already think outside the box, you find yourself trying to guide them back in. That is when I realized that my box was much smaller than theirs.
Our children are the future stewards of this planet and because of organizations like World Savvy, I’m sure that they will be better prepared to handle the obstacles that will surely come their way. They may not have the savvy to clean their rooms, but by thinking globally-they’ll be capable of fixing a damaged planet.
The Yip’s are awesome. Seriously, we're legendary. Even dogs in Napa idolize our canine counterpart. Mama and Papa Yip raised us Yip girls to value our family with unprecedented love. We are each other’s best friends, role models, and teachers. And we all have unabashed desires to change the world. Sure, together the five of us weigh less than 500 pounds (our dog needs to go on a diet), and if given the chance, none of us would be able to see the top of Danny DeVito's head, but we are packed with dynamite. We've all got a little bit of revolution in us, a little bit of leader and even a bit of persuasion.
Inspired by parents who are forward thinking "back-in-the-day-radicals,” and through the help of the myriad programs like the World Savvy Challenge, the Yip girls plan on revolutionizing environmental reform. The Yip Dynasty will one day take the word by its reigns, sister and sister knocking some sense into this corporate ruling, nuclear infected, gas guzzling, sprawling suburbanized, big mac of a country.
It may seem like a stretch to thank World Savvy for lending a hand in the creation of these Yip Monsters, but World Savvy’s innovative and question provoking projects are actively changing the way youth interact with the human environment.
Why is global education important to you? Why is the work of World Savvy important to you?
A global education creates globally-minded students and recognizes the importance of educating the whole person. With regards to our children, Emma and Anna, our goal was to mold confident, young adults who ultimately would find some connection and joy in learning. For these reasons, Emma and Anna started school in a Spanish dual-immersion program, with middle and high schools in project-based learning environments. I have a strong suspicion that they would have done fine in traditional learning environments but how fortunate they are to have had teachers and administrators who were capable of thinking outside the box and who encouraged their students to do the same.
World Savvy represents all the above but on a larger scale. World Savvy encourages our children to stretch their understanding of the world, to collaborate in groups, to think, to question, to lead, and to build relationships with different people. Most importantly World Savvy provides a safe environment for our children to learn about the real world and to recognize that the world is comprised of many cultures and beliefs - each of equal importance.
Your family is one of the longest-running World Savvy families. How did you first get involved with World Savvy? How has this involvement grown and evolved throughout the years?
My involvement with World Savvy has evolved from trips to San Francisco to a trip to Bangladesh last winter. World Savvy has, to say the least, helped open my sister's and my eyes to the dangerously beautiful world that surrounds us.
I am sure it is easy to gather that Emma and I were already exposed to many real-world truths at a younger age. Through the World Savvy Challenge, though, we were able to see that, no, the world really does not revolve around us, and, yes, there are many other people in this world dealing with issues worse than cleaning our rooms. But, in my opinion, the most important lesson that World Savvy teaches, is not about the problems that our world is facing, but instead finding ways to fix them. Of course, it is important to be knowledgeable on current affairs, but how do we move forward through these issues without exploring ways to fix them?
World Savvy has given me this mindset. Through my trips to San Francisco and my life-altering time in Bangladesh, I've learned how to take accountability for our human mistakes and how to take steps towards making this a better world.
The first we heard of World Savvy was when Emma, our oldest daughter, was at River Middle School as a sixth grader. River School had incorporated the World Savvy “question” into their school curriculum and every student was expected to complete a World Savvy project – basically the skit and poster board presentation – as part of their grade. (That year, only a couple student-groups from the upper classes actually traveled to the real World Savvy event and Emma watched these upper classmen, fully anticipating that she would be going to San Francisco as a seventh grader.) The year was 2004.
This school project culminated with an evening event at the school library where all the hard work of the student groups was presented. It was amazing to see the level of involvement and the creativity of the students. Skits were presented in school classrooms, just like the real World Savvy event.
As expected, the next year, Emma joined a group who wanted to present their project at the World Savvy event. Their subject was nuclear warheads in Iran. Much to my surprise, they created a song to a then current rap tune and I worried that hip-hop might not be appropriate. To this day the music repeats in my mind because these children repeated this song a thousand times in my living room! There were many stressful afternoons and nights preparing for the World Savvy Challenge and witnessing this, I began to wonder if this project was really worth ALL this.
I came to find out that yes, it really was. Not only did the students learn their subject and take extreme pride in their work, but more importantly, they learned valuable lessons in working with other people. Attending the challenge on a real college campus with students from all over the San Francisco Bay area, watching these incredible skits, listening to the guest speaker, and being a part of all that energy during the assembly - as parents, we were blown away! There was no question that students were engaged in their work and World Savvy provided the perfect environment for this to happen.
Funny thing is that we have traveled to the campus of San Francisco State every spring since. Yes, we are lucky that we have had a child participate in the program year after year. It is truly inspirational to be a part of this. I am positive that all the children who participate in World Savvy benefit in some way. It is so much fun to be a part of this world of learning!
If you could transport your family anywhere in the world for one week, where would it be and why?
We are a family who likes to travel! Yet I find this a very difficult question to answer because there are so many places to explore and to have to pick one place over another is hard to do. So, I will not answer and instead tell you that we could go anywhere and have a blast. For example, we did travel to Costa Rica as a family five years ago. We were there for a little over three weeks and traveled the country by bus. What a great time we had and I guarantee you that none of us will ever forget that trip.
One night we ended up in a very small town in a rundown hotel. The wind/rain storm almost took the roof off the hotel and nobody slept for all the noise of the metal roof being peeled back and forth. The storm passed and the next day we hopped on a bus but could not talk because the bus was full of baby chicks all chirping very loudly. It was a long ride on a dangerous, curvy, dirt road. The bus frequently stopped to deliver a box of chicks or maybe some letters to locals, who to us mysteriously appeared out of the forest, but instead were waiting patiently in the shade by the side of the road for their deliveries. The further we traveled the quieter the bus became!
I would travel with my husband and children just about anywhere on the planet. Chino and I are adventurers by heart and we hope our daughters too will find joy in discovering new worlds and new people.