Although she is keen to contribute to Hong Kong people’s understanding of the world beyond their shores, Chan knows that her readership is not large because most people think the Middle East has nothing to do with them.
For her part, Chan feels there are similarities between the situation in the Middle East and Hong Kong. Hong Kong has faced cultural conflicts and debates about identity in recent years and emigration overseas has become a hot topic again.
This, Chan believes, is not so different to some countries in the Middle East. There are cultural and physical clashes between countries and within them; there is a lack of understanding between neighbours. According to Chan, many Iraninas want to leave their homeland and young Iranians apply for scholarships in the U.S. and in Europe. The economy lacks diversity and all the university students major in engineering. “Thus, I always think it [the Middle East] is like a mirror. The Middle East, or the world, can be a reference [to the situation in Hong Kong],” says Chan.
Being a freelance reporter has given Chan a lot of freedom to work on topics that interest her, but it is not always easy. It is hard to cover events like national elections without a press card. Compared to her peers from college, who may be married or enjoying promising careers, she sometimes finds herself the odd one out with only a few thousand dollars to her name.
“You have to make a choice…you cannot admire others when you choose your own path,” says Chan.
The greatest pressure perhaps comes from her family. She is the eldest daughter but the pay from her freelance job is not enough for her to support her parents.
Fortunately, Chan says, her parents need not depend too much on her — it is her younger sister, a master’s graduate and a manager of a company, who has to make larger sacrifices for the family. Chan admits her family is tolerant of their “unfilial daughter”.
However, she has no regrets about her choices. “Even if you are rich, it doesn’t mean you won’t have any burdens,” says Chan. “Sometimes, it is having too much that creates a burden.”
Life may not be easy but Chan wants to stick to her path. To her, age should never be a restriction, “It’s not related to age. I’ve never thought there are certain things you have to do at a certain age, or that a stable life is a necessity,” says Chan.
Exploring the world is an impulse and this Catcher in the Rye believes being a traveller is in her genes. In the words of her hero, the book’s teenage protagonist Holden Caulfield, which are also the strapline on her blog, “I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
Edited by James Fung