Back in June 2023, I was invited to give a speech in front of a crowd of 60 Deaf children in Christchurch as one of the keynote speakers on Deaf Role Models day. Thanks to @scottmcdonnell for the invitation.
For those of you who know me as a mad-keen cyclist and the founder of the custom sports apparel brand GreenMonkey, here are some things you might not know:
I'm profoundly deaf in both ears and rely on two powerful Hansaton hearing aids to stay connected to the hearing world. I unfortunately never learned sign-language due to attending hearing schools.
I've proudly represented New Zealand as a 2-time Deaflympian (Taiwan and Bulgaria) and in two World Championships (San Francisco and Quebec).
I won the Deaflympics Road Race but was relegated to 4th place for impeding the sprint of the Russian.
Participated in the Tour de Formosa (Taiwan) twice for Deaf riders from around the world.
I was New Zealand Deaf Sports Person of the Year in 2014.
I speak Mandarin fluently (read and write too).
I have taught my 7-year-old Mandarin (his understanding is very good, but he now asks me to speak English to him most of the time).
I have traveled the world and lived in various countries, including Israel, St Helena Island, the USA, Taiwan, and China.
I have settled in Rotorua since 2016 and am raising our family (we have two boys, 7 and 4).
I hold four (4) university qualifications: B.Com in Marketing, BA in Chinese, PostGrad in Tourism, and a Masters in Tourism, all from Otago University.
I was also the first Kiwi recipient of the NZ-China Government scholarship to study at Zhejiang University for my PhD (which was never finished). I also have HSK Level 3 and completed two years of full-time Chinese language study.
I have started my own cycling apparel brand, GreenMonkey, from nothing in 2016, and it's now one of the leading custom cycling apparel brands in New Zealand, with global growth slowly but surely increasing.
These are all examples of me leading a life with achievements despite my major handicap. For this reason, I was proud to be considered a Deaf Role Model and give a speech in front of 60 Deaf kids. I sincerely hope that my story will inspire other Deaf people to keep persevering and never, never give up.
I also hope that this story would inspire hearing people too. If a Deaf guy can learn another language as difficult as Mandarin, it's possible for you to succeed as well, provided you have the right positive mindset.