What do your kids want to be?
JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2015 - 10:00am

Normally, when I ask children in provinces “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I often get “soldier” or “teacher” as a reply. This is expected because children tend to emulate the people they often see, in the same way that many kids also want to be artista, newscasters or celebrities because of the TV culture of Filipinos.

I never dreamed to be a journalist, even if I loved writing. My exposure was banking because both my parents worked in a bank, and sales (like ahente) because Mama sold different things from real estate, to Pyrex, to underwear, to throw pillows and insurance — and so I took Business Administration (and Nursing because of the opportunity it presented to work abroad).

Truth is, I never really asked myself what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, it was an enlightening experience to be at KidZania, The Fort in Taguig City. KidZania is an amusement center where children can play make-believe. They can pretend to be doctors, firemen, policemen, cable guys, pilots and even cabin crew.

Here are some of the favorite occupations that our pamangkin, Nathaniel and Brianna, both seven, patiently queued up for. I also included the attractions that were blockbusters.

Maybe this can also help you as a guide when you visit KidZania. The allotted time of five hours is not enough. Visit all the establishments, where the children could work. (Allot, say, an average of 20 minutes per establishment.)

1. Fire Fighter. This would definitely be among the favorites at KidZania. The children queue up to be a fireman, and they get to ride a fire truck and rush to a burning building with their own fire hose. Also on the site are little police officers who cordon off the scene of the crime.

2. Pilot. This is the favorite of our nephew who has a collection of model planes. Nate said he enjoyed it because he imagined that he was landing a plane at NAIA Terminal 3. His co-pilot crashed the plane though!

What’s interesting is that the children pay for pilot training in KidZania currency, Kidzos, and they get paid Kidzos as pilots.

3. Veterinarian. Brianna loved it because she wants to be a veterinarian someday. She just loves our dog Uni, but at KidZania, we watched as she retrieved a stuffed cat from one of the cages and gave it vaccine shots. They showed how to carry the animal properly. (I only based it on what I saw from the window. Guardians are allowed to watch but not go inside.) Brianna was intense.

4. Ice Cream Factory Worker. Located at the second floor, I noticed the children were so excited waiting for their turn. I’m not sure if they were there for the experience to make ice cream or simply to eat! It was cool because they also got to make their own ice cream.

5. Housekeeping at a Hotel and Catering Service. I don’t know if the children were as excited as the adults. I liked this especially, because it was nice to see the children listening intently while they were taught how to make beds and do some table arrangements. Some children were awkward wearing their uniforms because they didn’t know how — but it was so cute to see them try.

6. Media. We were all excited to do TV Patrol. Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited. Some children also had their chance to play DJ at the DZMM and MOR booths or work in a magazine and do lay-outs or be a photographer.

7. Doctor. From pediatricians to first responders in an emergency situation. It was surreal to watch children pretending to give first aid to an unconscious victim on the streets of KidZania. Upstairs, baby dolls were lined up at the KidZania nursery waiting for their eager caregivers. I thought to myself then, “I want to be a doctor.”

These are but a few occupations that piqued my interest but there’s much more — from courtrooms, automotive establishments and factories, to bakeshops and restaurants for kids. It’s endless. Children are bound to find something they will love.

Like real life, our little workers are paid for their work in Kidzos, and if they want to enroll in a training course, then they would have to shell out some Kidzos, too.

At the end of the trip, children will deposit their earnings in a bank, and they can do their own balance inquiry on the bank’s ATM. That fun environment is teaching the children the value of work.

Nate and Nana couldn’t stop talking about it and they can’t wait to go back.

Maybe a humble suggestion for KidZania is to have annual passes because the kids can’t seem to get enough of it, and I never thought that I would enjoy it so much.

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