Affectionately known as ‘Miss Jas’ by students and parents alike, The International School Elementary Principal Mary-Anne Jasinski calls a cozy corner in Macau’s One Oasis, home

Like many expatriates coming to Macau, Mary-Anne Jasinski originally planned on a 2-year stay but 8 years later she’s still here and still loving it!  “I like Macau very much” she explains, “it’s easy to live here, there’s so much to see and do and I love the variety, the diversity of people.  It’s so safe, and you can get anywhere, any time, and if you get lost, just get a taxi.  However I don’t enjoy the hot weather – I’m from Calgari, Alberta, Canada so I’m used to snow and cold!” she laughs.  

When Mary-Anne first moved to Macau, she took a leave of absence from her job in Canada where she’d worked for the Calgari Board of Education for 24 years.  She started her career as a special education teacher, and then became a specialist in early childhood overseeing the special needs and regular programs for pre-kindergarten to grade 5 in 60 schools.

With a Master’s Degree in English Language Acquisition and “a LOT of experience working with atypical learners,” she was offered a job by The International School (TIS) here in Macau as Learning Support.  “My expertise in developing English language for both special needs and regular students was a perfect fit for the job.”   When the then TIS Elementary Principal left, Mary-Anne was ideally suited to take over the role.

Fast forward 7 years as TIS’s Primary Principal what keeps her here in terms of work is that she’s attracted to the profile of students and the high performing expectations for the school.  It’s not just about producing well rounded children, “but in every grade and with every ability we want the children to be happy, to love school and to be successful.  Our aim is to motivate the children to achieve their very best.”

Of the 1400 students at TIS, 1,000 of these make up the Primary school under Mary-Anne’s management, for 3 year olds right up to grade 6.  “We have almost 400 in kindi – with 19 classrooms.”

It’s clear to see that Mary-Anne’s passion lies in helping educational practice in Macau and moving it forward in terms of individual student needs.   “We need to provide really appropriate learning opportunities for students of all needs, all backgrounds.”

Mary-Anne has lived in a variety of homes in Macau over the years.  She started off in a teeny walk up in Old Taipa Village, “so charming”.   Then she moved to The Buckingham in Taipa as her nephew came for an extended stay – but she kept getting sick and then discovered that the back of the carpeting was completely moldy.  When the owner refused to remove and change it she had to move out.  Her first apartment in Coloane’s One Oasis had 2-bedrooms and faced the estuary between Macau and Hengqin.  “I loved that place”.  And then when her daughter Alix arrived to take up a teaching post at TIS, she moved to a 3-bedroom apartment in tower 6, specifically on a low floor to take advantage of the green views of the park and Coloane hills, “and I absolutely love here too.  There again, I’ve loved all the apartments I’ve lived in in Macau.”

“Now Alix has taken her own studio apartment so really this place is too big for me; it’s a luxury to have so much space.  I have 2 tubs, 4 showers, plus a big storage room … half of the things in it belong to my daughter!”   

“I really enjoy the balcony and often sit out on it to drink my morning coffee.  I used the clubhouse a lot when I first came – I like to swim in the indoor pool.  There’s a little gym in my tower so I must get back to using that.   Since I moved out to One Oasis I have no need to go into Taipa – we have ParkNShop, Bottles and all the other restaurants.”  The free shuttle bus service to Taipa and to Macau is convenient and as there are 56 TIS teachers living in One Oasis the school provides its own staff bus for mornings and after school.    

 

 

 

 

 

Walking around Mary-Anne’s apartment the visitor soon notices a number of dolls – and here we learn of her other passion, that of doll making.   One of the bedrooms has been converted into a sewing room where some of her dolls are on display.

All are immaculately sewn and come in a range of amusing characters.   ‘Betty Boobs’ originally was bought in Bangkok’s Chatuchak market and she became the inspiration for Mary-Anne to make ‘Millimeter Peter’, then the mother in law ‘Pendulum Paula’ and father in law ‘Tricky Dicky’.  Like artists in other mediums Mary-Anne’s creativity and artistic expression evolves through the sewing process … “‘Minerva’ started off as a wicked witch but eventually became the worried red head sitting on the sofa, waiting for her sailor boyfriend”.   Then there are the dolls that reflect various happenings around Mary-Anne.  ‘Stormy’ was made during Typhoon Hato, and ‘Virus’ was made at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The dolls are not for sale but are often given away to friends.  So as to keep track and document what she’s made over the years and to share with others the doll making craft, Mary-Anne has a Facebook page called Sassy [email protected]  She’s started a sewing club at TIS, opened a well-stocked sewing room where she’s run classes for children on making rag dolls and for teachers on how to use the machines.  “Eventually we want to have the students use the room under teacher supervision.”

And yet another passion of Mary-Anne’s is to travel.  “I love Macau in that it’s like a small town, the intimacy, you know everyone, but at the same time this can be a negative as I sometimes prefer to be more anonymous.   So as a keen traveler a big attraction of living here is that Macau is a hub to get anywhere.  I always travel from Macau airport, never use Hong Kong.”  The school calendar means that she’s able to take “4 large holidays and 10 quickie trips in a year.  I’ve gone to many of the iconic destinations in the region like Angkor Wat, the Killing Fields.”  In particular Mary-Anne loves art holidays; in Chiang Mai there’s a silver smith that she does classes with.  She joins painting, knitting, crocheting classes wherever she can find them during her travels.  “But more recently I’m taking beach retreats to recharge the batteries.”   

So what’s the long-term game plan, what will Mary-Anne do when one day she retires?  The idea would be to continue to travel but to share her time between 3 main places.  “Bangkok is my favourite city in the world so an apartment there for sure.”  A home in Canada to be close to family, “maybe the 2-bed apartment on my brother’s property in Vancouver Island.”   And Macau has clearly captured her heart so with her soon-to-have Macau ID, holidays and likely a small base here.