Determined to beat disability
Daniel Pang Chun-yin, 19, has a real talent for two things, baking and volleyball. But he has never heard one word of praise because he is deaf.
He has to lip-read and uses a hearing aid to pick up the sound of people's voices, but even then he can't hear things clearly. Yet Pang has never allowed his deafness to stop him achieving his goals in life - even if it takes him a little longer to achieve them than his peers.
His hearing problem was diagnosed when he was only three after his mother took him to a doctor. 'My hearing problem has often distracted me from my studies. I can spend hours on revision, but it can still prove ineffective,' he says.
Pang's love for sweet things - and a particular passion for blueberry cheesecake - led him to start baking cakes at home as a hobby. This interest inspired him to take it up as a career.
Last year, the Form Five graduate from Chun Tok School, a school mainly for hearing-impaired students in Diamond Hill, signed up for a one-year course in baking and pastry-making at the Vocational Training Council's Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre, in Pok Fu Lam.
Pang enjoyed the course, but endured some frustrations.
'Although I passed the practical exams, I found the written exams too difficult. I failed in two subjects and needed to retake them. But I was so upset, I still couldn't pass - even though I spent a great deal of effort doing revision,' he says.
Fortunately, Pang received a lot of support from his classmates, who helped him catch up. Last month, he graduated after passing his exams.
Last week, the teenager started his first job - as an intern at a bakery in Tai Po. 'I was very nervous at the start and burst into tears at home after my second day,' he says. 'Luckily, I have my mum. She's such a great listener and keeps telling me I shouldn't keep sad feelings inside. She helps me relax when I get confused or lost in the real world.'
His baking skills are a big hit with family and friends. He is in great demand, baking cakes for free, as long as they buy the ingredients.
Volleyball seems to come more easily to Pang. He enrolled in the Young Volleyball Athletes Training Scheme, organised by Hong Kong's Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Hong Kong Volleyball Association.
In the closing tournament for all participating teams, Daniel's Wong Nai Chung Sports Centre lost out - but he was named their most valuable player.
'I didn't expect to win that prize,' he says. 'But I was delighted. I am OK to play, even if there are lots of noises going on around me. Although I can't hear the coach clearly during the game, I can lip-read and understand what he is saying.
'He often tells me to hit the ball crosscourt instead of straight towards the baseline. I've worked hard to do what he says so I can improve as a player.'
Certainly Pang, who plays for HOS volleyball club, is not afraid of challenges. His determination to succeed means that one day - maybe soon - he will win a prize for his baking, too ... for making the best blueberry cheesecake in Hong Kong.