My parents both came over from Hong Kong in the 1970’s and I am very proud of my heritage. I have an immense amount of respect for my father who worked in many different jobs, learning the Chinese takeaway trade eventually running his business which I took over in 2006.
Education: 1993- 2005
I studied at King Edwards Camphill and am delighted to be appointed a Community Governor at Camp Hill and looking forward to giving something back to the school which taught me so much during my most informative years.
I then completed a History and Politics degree at Leicester University followed by a masters in International. While at University I got involved in the university theatre group as stage manager working with a group of 10 stage crew, designing and managing sets. We ended up taking a performance of “Cows the Musical” to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival about a herd of cows who believed the “grass is greener on the other side..”
I started volunteering at local primary schools through a local ‘Right to Read’ initiative spending a few hours a week reading with students whose first language was not English.
Past Travels and Experiences: 2005-6
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain
I spent two months in Ghana and Zambia in 2005 working at an aids hospital, orphanage and a local school which were two very difficult periods for me but also very touching and moving. The desperate poverty and inequality in these countries and families contrasted very strongly with their joy and innocence.
The hospital we were based at housed many patients with AIDS-HIV and had a testing centre where people were encouraged to come and get themselves tested. The school alongside this provided care for orphans for parents who have died because of AIDS. Working with the volunteers ostensibly to help teach them Maths and English, I felt I learnt more from them about humility, being thankful for what we have, and the joy of living.
Teaching in Shanghai:
During 2006 I taught English as a foreign language (TEFL) at a state secondary school in Shanghai. While class sizes were 50 students to a teacher with 8 forms per year, teachers were very well respected and all students were extremely hard working, dedicated and under a lot of pressure to achieve. Through the British Council we taught half a class each sharing British methods of group and discussion learning in English speaking and listening lessons.
Although we were only teaching for a year many of us learnt Mandarin and travelled widely across China and Asia. The pressures of the education system in China and demands on achievement were incredible to witness with these students working incredibly hard for a few university places. The memories and experiences I have gained while teaching, traveling, and getting to know these wonderful group of kids will stay with me for a very long time.
Birmingham 2007 and onwards
I found a real joy from volunteering in China I continued giving back to the local community when I returned in 2007. In 2009 I became a Birmingham magistrate- at the time the youngest and the only Chinese-heritage magistrate in the West Midlands and joined the Governing body of Kingsbury School and Sports College becoming the Vice-Chair of Governors a year later.
I also continued regular trips to Africa Volunteering in Rwanda and Tanzania, fundraising for Mind Mental Health. After Kingsbury School was academies I was asked to join the Governing Body of Wilson Stuart- a Special Education Needs school in Erdington, and more recently as a trustee for the Birmingham CBSO and as a Community Governor at my old school of King Edwards Camp Hill.
In all these responsibilities I have learnt a great deal about the journeys of other people and the mass of good will out there by ordinary people to give generously of their time and expertise to help other people. As a local councillor and find great satisfaction in being able to make that little difference to the life of someone else, to lead a campaign to improve or protect a community and to simply be of service to others.
Birmingham City Council
I am a keen support of raising mental health awareness especially after being affected by it myself while in Shanghai. I am a supporter of Mind Mental Health and Papyrus, and championed this through debated at Full Council.
Other motions I have supported include refunds to Council Tax for missed waste collections to residents in Birmingham following a 14,000 named petition, and a Christian Aid backed motion on Tax Justice.