This Is How Courage Is Developed

Chinese & English: Senior UM Reporter Ku Weng Hin | Photo: Provided by the interviewees | ISSUE 115 August My UM

‘Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men,’ goes an old saying. Each person has a different story of developing courage through hard times. How did the following three members of the University of Macau (UM) summon up their courage when they faced challenges in life and learning?

The Greater the Challenge, the Greater the Courage

Dr Qi Yaning, associate master of Choi Kai Yau College (CKYC), had to choose between working in academia or industry after obtaining her PhD in biological sciences in 2011. Her PhD studies mainly focused on enzymes and signaling pathways in microorganisms, and when she graduated, many of her fellow students opted for postdoctoral positions for the chance to work at universities. However, after much consideration, she decided to join the R&D centre of an international company to work in product development. ‘I wanted to try something different from what the “ivory tower” has to offer. I was not sure if I would be successful with my career change, but the greater the challenge, the more courage I seemed to have to overcome it,’ says Dr Qi.

Dr Qi Yaning

After gaining a few years of professional experience, Dr Qi took on a new challenge in 2014, joining UM to work as residential fellow at CKYC. That year, UM implemented the residential college system to carry out whole-person education. ‘We faced various difficulties in setting up our residential college. It was like walking through darkness. Prof David Pong, founding master of the CKYC, always encouraged us by saying “(It is) we who make history”, which gave the fellows and students a lot of confidence and courage,’ says Dr Qi. ‘Eight years have passed, and the residential college system has become a distinctive feature of UM. The courage to step out of one’s comfort zone to take on challenges is a quality that I truly admire.’

Finding Courage in Research

Zhang Yuwei, a recent graduate of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, who was also a member of Cheng Yu Tung College, decided to do a final year project on masked face recognition after noticing that during the pandemic, many face recognition systems could not detect users with masks.

Zhang Yuwei

In the project, Zhang had to conduct extensive experiments with the masked face recognition dataset. The project was hard and complicated, but she mustered up the courage to continue her work. After many all-nighters, the results proved her method to be effective. ‘Do not retreat when things get difficult. Think positively about how you can deal with it, rather than just focusing on the difficulty itself,’ says Zhang. With this attitude, she overcame many challenges in her studies. She even won the Best Final Year Project Award from the Faculty of Science and Technology for her project, which has given her more courage to pursue her dreams in the future.

Zhang will pursue a master’s degree at Yale University in August this year. She says she will continue to face the unknown with the courage she gained from doing research at UM: ‘Stay true to yourself and keep your faith. Your goals will eventually come true!’

The Courage to Explore the Literary World

U Seng Chin is a third-year student in the Faculty of Chinese Language and Literature and a resident of Chao Kuang Piu College. He was born with cerebral palsy, a disability caused by a lack of oxygen to his brain during birth. Although it does not affect his intelligence, he has had mobility limitations since his childhood. ‘My childhood dream was to explore the world and see breathtaking landscapes, but my body does not allow me to do that. So I decided to explore the world of words,’ he says. U’s current dream is to become a writer and his physical condition cannot stop him from pursuing his passion. In his final year of high school, he obtained excellent grades and was admitted to UM through the Principals’ Recommended Admission Scheme. This is his first step towards realising his dream.

U Seng Chin

Passionate about writing, U ran for the post of the editorial director of the Literature Club of the UM Students’ Union, although at first he was not sure if he was competent enough to take this position. Moreover, the club required each candidate to deliver a speech, which made him even more hesitant. In the end, he summoned up the courage to take on this challenge and requested to publish his speech instead of delivering it in front of the club members. His request was eventually accepted and he was also elected to the post. This is one of the many examples of U facing challenges in his life and studies with a positive attitude. ‘In my opinion, being courageous means daring to try new things and stepping out of your comfort zone,’ he says.