Alumna Akina Fong (MA International Studies, 2005) tells Old JoE Hong Kong about her time at Birmingham and her career path since graduating.
Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?
When considering studying in the UK, London would come to mind first as it is a cosmopolitan city. For me, Hong Kong is already a cosmopolitan hub and hence I was looking for a place that was different from my home town. Birmingham was the best choice as it was the second largest city in the UK, not as busy as London but it preserved its urban life. Also, I loved the multi-cultural colours of the city, which enabled people with different cultural backgrounds to adapt to UK life with ease.
What are your memories of your time here?
I sponsored my own postgraduate study in the UK as I thought a youngster who had been working for five years ought not to rely on parents. I looked for numerous part-time jobs and worked as a translator and a typist in the communications office on campus. Life was tough when working during studies but I really enjoyed the feeling of "living on my own".
Can you outline your career path following university?
I was a radio reporter before pursuing studies in the UK and during my stay in Birmingham, my passion for journalism was cemented as I regretted not being part of the reporting team during the South Asian Tsunami and the stepping down of Hong Kong's first Chief Executive, Tung Chee Hwa, in 2004/05. When exposed to different world renowned news organisations like BBC or Reuters, my horizons were widened and I realised that I should look for a platform with a larger audience and exposure. Upon graduation, I shifted to a local television station in Hong Kong (TVB) to become a TV news reporter and later an anchorwoman.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your current role?
I was a TV anchor and Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer at the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Hong Kong. Two years ago, I also began to engage in TV and radio programme hosting and teaching at various local universities as a part-time lecturer. I also joined a local leather workshop as senior designer, to foster local cultural and artisan development. The biggest challenge is instability and job security when working as a media freelancer.
And the biggest rewards?
The biggest reward is job satisfaction. In the past I have worked to make ends meet. As the working hours were long in the journalistic sector, I gave up my hobbies and all my life was work, work and work. Right now I am able to choose what I like to do and engage in lots of charity work to help people in need. For me, being psychologically rich is much more important than materialistically rich.