June 1, 2022
BEIJING – Rotating a 2-kilogram wok over a burning flame while swinging a ladle to the beat of pop music, 10-year-old Sun Jiarui makes her way around the kitchen like a veteran chef.
Sun, a fourth grader at a primary school in the city of Wuxi, East China’s Jiangsu province, can cook more than 50 delicacies, which is no easy feat-even for an adult.
Short videos of the young cooking star have gone viral, as netizens marvel at her jaw-dropping cooking skills. She has garnered more than 830,000 followers and 9 million likes on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, with her video clips boasting up to 40 million views.
“My daughter just grew up in the kitchen,” says Sun Yadong, who is also the owner and chef of a farm restaurant in Wuxi. “She started helping out with chores when she was around 4 or 5, and when she was 8, she asked me to teach her to cook after school.
“It’s not bad for her to master some hands-on life skills, so she can better take care of herself when she grows up,” Sun Yadong adds. He shot a few videos of his daughter’s learning process and posted them online, but did not expect them to become smash hits.
“It was out of curiosity at first, but gradually, I fell in love with cooking,” says Jiarui. “It gives me a strong sense of accomplishment.”
She has also become a teacher in her school’s cooking class. The Ministry of Education has recently issued a document saying that education on practical labor skills will be incorporated into the curriculum of China’s primary and secondary schools from this year’s fall semester, aiming to encourage students to participate in daily life labor.
“We have set up a cooking studio at school and Sun Jiarui is one of the instructors,” says Li Hua, principal of the school, noting that Jiarui will teach her classmates to make simple dishes like poached eggs and stir-fried potato slices.
“It’s a great thing for the students to experience the joy of cooking and the fruits of their labor,” says Li. “This will ultimately help cultivate their passion for life.”
“I hope that the course will offer us more hands-on opportunities to master basic life skills and share the burden with our parents,” says Jiarui.
Apart from essential skills such as cooking and housekeeping, the MOE program is also designed to enrich their knowledge and skill set in production work and services.
“Through learning and experience, students will develop a respect for labor, the ability to innovate and apply what they learn in real life, and a sense of social responsibility,” the MOE says.
Many netizens also hailed the life skills program and expressed their support for the move.
“This is what schooling is supposed to be like,” reads one online user’s comment.