Farrah Zhou

Title
Placement Manager
Farrah Zhou

What position do you hold at LoPair? What has been your career path so far?

Farrah: I work as the Placement Manager of LoPair Au Pair China Program; I did one year Marketing in an international hotel group and then went back to study for my Masters degree, and have worked in LoPair for three years now.

Did YOU take a gap-year abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Farrah: Unfortunately, no. Gap-year abroad is not so popular in China at the time. But studying one and half years in England have given me the chance to experience a totally different culture, the way people do things differently, and helped me get to know the amazement of cross-culture communication.

What does the future hold for LoPair - any exciting new programs to share?

Farrah: We are always keen on providing opportunities for foreign young people who are interested in or originated from Asia or China, to see and feel the real China, and vice-versa. For now, we have two main programs – Au Pair China and Au Pair USA. This being said, we welcome young people to join Chinese family life and send Chinese girls to the States for a whole different family experience. At this moment, we are committed on running Au Pair programs only and are aiming at being the leading Au Pair agency in China.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think gap-year abroad will change over the next 10 years?

Farrah: I definitely look to further increase this industry. With globalization, the curiosity for other places and cultures can be found everywhere. Since travelling to the other side of the world is not so difficult anymore, this curiosity can get satisfied much easier.

As for the change over the next 10 years, I would only like to cover a little part of China as it is so massive!! On one side I think China, especially these international tier-1 cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are ready to host more and more gap-year students coming from around the world with their advancing level of public utilities, the upgraded international vision and the capability of cross-culture communication. I believe the growing global influence of China and its exposure at 2008 Beijing Olympic and 2010 Shanghai will be bringing China more foreign young visitors like it has now.

On the other side, since the concept of ‘gap year’ didn't come to China until 2009 and still only a small proportion of Chinese graduates take their gap year, China is still a baby in this industry. However, I see a climbing number of Chinese young people looking to spend a year or two abroad, for either travel, work, or volunteering. Therefore, the big boost awaits.

Which gap-year abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Farrah: Ah…..It’s such a difficult question. Can I say China is underrated? Many candidates say China to be their third or fourth option, they prefer to go to the States, Europe or Australia badly. I have to say China is a good destination with its unique culture and feature. At the same time, it is a place that needs higher qualified explorers who could be even better prepared than normal candidates and are ready for an overwhelming impact. Once survived, it’s a life time treasure. Overrated, I am not sure, I believe every place has its point for exploration and one can always learn things from different environments.