Leaving Hong Kong for Valencia, Spain for Rediscovery

Photo by Emma Jiayue Liu

Photo by Emma Jiayue Liu

Originally published in This is Valencia on August 5, 2015.

By the time Lorraine Wong turned 21, she participated in political protests against the government of Hong Kong and set up a cultural diversity project with people from five different countries. Plus, she served as vice president of her university’s international leadership organization.

Yet, she feels lost.

“I have to find myself back,” said Wong. “I can’t let others define me.”

Currently living in Valencia, petite Hong-Kong native Wong works as a public relations intern for a grocery start-up. Her goals are to gain professional experience in PR, but also to redefine herself on her own terms.

“In the past year, some people challenge me,” Wong said, “Are you sure you can be in PR, are you sure you want to be in PR and do you know what PR is? So many challenges.

Why don’t you believe me, why don’t you trust me? And that made me challenge myself. It also made me a bit not so sure of my ability to be in PR.”

Wong decided to get away from her life in Hong Kong for the summer, leaving behind the parts of her life that weighed her down. She left her vice-president position at Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s AIESEC, an international leadership development community for youth that focuses on creating a diverse cultural society. She helped develop a program called “Nakupenda” that promotes, according to Wong, “respect, embrace and love” of different cultures.

“I can really adapt in different situations in different cultures and because I like to enjoy it.”

This position, however, burdened her sense of self.

“I even lost my passion about doing the things in AIESEC,” Wong said. ”I don’t know what is the meaning for me to stay here to be so tough to be so hard to do the things I thought were good.”

She managed two teams of 20 people during her position as vice president of AIESEC, which created tension in the leadership. One example of a challenge that Wong faced is a disagreement with the goals of a marketing campaign for AIESEC: Wong wanted to use all of the resources she could go reach as many people possible, but fellow team leaders disagreed. Though she was able to learn from this disagreement, it was a challenge on Wong’s ability to carry the team.

“Some team leaders would challenge me, why don’t you do that, why don’t you do this,” Wong said. “I have my judgement, I have my decision but you guys keep challenging me and make me so lost, I don’t even know why I am doing this.”

“I can’t really be confident about my abilities to run a team, two teams and so many people like to judge your decision,” Wong said.

Her ex-boyfriend, although supportive of her decision to come to Spain to work, kept filling her with doubt.

“He wants me to know who I really am,” Wong said about her ex-boyfriend. ”But he has a perception of me.”

“On the other hand it’s because of my personality,” Wong said. “I don’t want to be a loser. I always want to present the best of myself to other people. I’m actually putting all the pressure on myself to be a really good person, good at everything which make me so stressful.”

These perceptions, she said, are what held her back from being herself in Hong Kong—and what is allowing herself to grown and re-discover herself in Valencia. Lorraine Wong is a world citizen, with a love for different cultures, leadership skills and an outgoing personality.

“Here I can really be myself,” Wong said. “No one here knows me, it’s a blank slate for me so I can be really comfortable to be myself and I don’t have to put on any mask on. This is the real me.”

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