KUCHING PEEPS: Have You Met… Vicky Ang?
The Kuching Peeps series is about getting to know our home-grown inspiring individuals by asking them all sorts of questions, shuffling from the basics, the intense, the thought-provoking and the just plain random; all through an e-mail.By Karen Chin
I met Victoria, or more fondly known as ‘Vicky’ to her friends, in church when we were teenagers and the first thing I noticed about her was her charisma and her love for people. She is outwardly passionate about life; she loves experiencing new things, places and people. To me, she radiates GIRL POWER!
Today after much soul-searching, she became a social worker and has conviction in her vocation. She is someone who is inspiring and brave, and that is why I wanted her to tell her story.
Presenting to you, Victoria Ang, a 31-year-old Chinese-Malaysian from Kuching; may her story inspire others like her to chase their vocation in life.
Tell us about your work. When did you start? How did you develop the interest? How did you start off?
Well, right now I am working in what we call the helping profession, a social worker. The passion started when I was in secondary school. I joined a lot of activities organised by the church and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and met many different contacts who inspired me to pursue the helping profession as my life interest and career path.
This is the definition of social work according to the International Federation of Social Workers: “The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being.
Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.”
When a person is involved in charitable works or welfare related work, it does not automatically make them social workers, or the work, social work. Social workers, in many countries, is a profession that requires a graduate of a Social Work degree program to sit for a board/ licensure exam in their country or the country they are practicing in (if required).
How have things changed for you since you became what you are?
I am happier. Despite the challenges at the workplace, I feel that all vocations are difficult. But as I have sought mine out, found it and been given a chance, I should still try my best to stick with it no matter how difficult it is. Also, I’m not so into expensive things or hobbies anymore. I stopped using my Nikon camera as it costs too much to maintain it. I don’t really care for things that have statuses attached to them when you own them – I’m a much more practical person now.
10 years ago, what did you think you would be working as now?
10 years ago I thought I would somehow be working as a photographer and writer… I was to be one of National Geographic’s photographers! Talk about big dreams! 😉
Where have you traveled in the world?
Hong Kong (before it was reunited with China), Indonesia – West Kalimantan, Bali, Surabaya, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, South Korea and Philippines (I lived there for about 4 years).
What is your motto in life?
Life is like a piece of art, it is up to you to see its beauty. There are ups and downs in our lives. But through that, there’s still a beauty attached to it. We just have to rough through the downs and appreciate the ups more.
How would you like people to be inspired by you? Do you have any advice to those who want to do what you do?
Our world definitely needs more people in the helping profession, people who can do the real work and make the world a better place. Nevertheless, many tend to romanticize the idea of being involved in the helping profession. There is a lot that one needs to sacrifice to be part of this line of work.
The reality is there is hardly any financial gain in this line of work. Allowances and salaries for this line of work only allow you to survive. It is important to be very logical when you decide to pursue this career path. If you have a family that needs your support financially, it would be a really big challenge, honestly.
Pursuing this line of work will change your entire being. You will never be rich on the outside perhaps, but the enrichment from the experiences sustains your being. When life is lived with more meaning and more passion (and if helping others and making their lives better makes you happy), you will find joy through your service and contribution to the people.
Tell us about the most memorable people you have met in your line of work, and how they inspired you.
I have met so many inspirational figures during my stay in the Philippines and was touched by the lives of many. They thrived through annual typhoon storms and floods; being an archipelago, the country is prone to many different forms of natural disasters. Losing all material belongings in major floods, many would pick themselves up and continue on with their lives as they embrace another flood that could possibly hit them just weeks after or the following year.
I met a fellow dormer who shared with me his amazing story of how he got admitted into our university. He came from a poor family living in the informal settlements of Quezon City. As a primary school child, he would go to school with his uniform unwashed as he only had a set of uniform. He was always hungry and the public school he attended was overcrowded with students.
His teacher would often tell of free schools with good education in another city in Metro Manila. He decided after primary school that he would get accepted into the good school in that city. With this determination, he begged a jeepney driver to give him a free ride as he could not afford the fare of less than 20 pesos.
He went to the mayor’s office that day and told the mayor that he lived in that city and that he really wants to go to school. He gave the address of a relative he knew that was living in that city. This rare case got him in to the school, where he could even board for free.
Nearing the end of high school, he sat for UP’s (University of the Philippines) entrance exam and passed but was not able to be oblation scholars (top scorers of the entrance exam). However, his friends who were oblation scholars urged him to join them for a special treat by the university to welcome these scholars. He went, and found out about scholarship programs which he applied for, and succeeded.
With his tuition fees paid for, he had to find his means of survival. He went to the President’s office and told his story which got him a job as a student assistant in the President’s office. And with the small pay that he received, survived for a few years of his education until his mother fell ill and he had to stop studying.
After the death of his mother, he returned to school but could no longer be under scholarship. When I met him, he was finishing up his studies while working in a call center for the night shift.
We met a few days before his birthday. For his birthday, he treated friends and former colleagues with some food as thanksgiving for all that they have done to help him.
He was indeed another special character that I have met; one who was doing well in life through his special ways of planning ahead, even as a child.
What do you think about feminists?
Equality rocks. I believe in having equal opportunities for men and women, male and female children for work, study, leisure, to vote, etc. I believe that no one should be forced to marry or bear children. I believe that genital parts should not be mutilated because one’s culture dictates it. I believe that no one should be forced or coerced to change family names, stay at home after marriage, or live in the shadow of another after marriage.
I believe that violence of any form should be made a crime.
If these beliefs mean I am a feminist, I guess I would say that all women should be feminists for it is just not right to be treated like second class citizens just because we are women.
How do you view stereotypical gender roles?
I was brought up to believe that I could be whoever I want to be. And I thank my mom for that, really. I believe, personally that both men and women should know how to do everything and should do everything to survive and this includes domestic roles as well as social roles in the family, workplace and society.
Describe yourself 10 years from now.
Hopefully with a PhD and teaching on the side. I do hope to be involved with an international-level NGO, doing work related to women, children, migrants/ refugees, indigenous people. Perhaps my plans to start my own social entrepreneurship would have been kicked off by then as well..
What do you want to be remembered for?
For loving life and living it to the fullest through helping others and being happy.