PATRICIA LAM Pui-chee may look like any other teenage girl - bright, chatty and cheerful - but her extraordinary leadership skills make her stand out from the rest. Seventeen-year-old Pui-chee likes to shop, see movies and read the latest magazines. But the Diocesan Girls' School sixth former also spends her time attending to her duties as chairperson of the Hong Kong Union for Young Leaders, an organisation made up of students from 27 secondary schools. Ever since the union was set up in October 1992, its membership has been increasing. Pui-chee says the responsibility of heading the team is enormous. 'As chairperson, I have to make sure things run smoothly. I cannot let my fellow members down,' she says. 'Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed, with so much work and so little time. But if you look at it from a different angle, it is also a good opportunity to learn how to manage your time.' An executive committee of 12, chaired by Pui-chee, is responsible for running the organisation. Pui-chee became involved in the organisation after representing Hong Kong at the Hugh O'Brian Youth World Leadership Congress in Washington, DC last year. While she was there, she met more than 200 young ambassadors from 40 countries. The annual event, aimed at promoting cultural exchange among teenagers from around the world, has been held since 1958. 'It was a unique experience. Having the opportunity to meet hundreds of young and brilliant people from around the globe in the world's greatest capital is definitely a privilege that not many people have,' the student said. She first joined the union as a junior member when she was in Form Four. Last year, she was selected to represent Hong Kong at the Washington event. 'I was grateful for being given such a great opportunity and wanted to do something for the union in return,' she recalls. Since she became chairperson in late September, she has been swamped with phone calls and paperwork, and meetings have become a routine. While she is committed to her work, her devotion to her studies and school activities has never taken a back seat. She remains actively involved in her school's drama club and English debate team. She is also the first deputy prefect at her school. 'My job has been keeping me very busy, and so has my studies. I do not have leisure time,' she says. 'However, I often look on the bright side and see all the responsibilities as a test of my willpower, determination and management skills. It can prepare me for the future.' The young leader's major task ahead is to look for more sponsors for the organisation. 'I have to thank my committee members. They have been very supportive,' she says. The union is organising a leadership forum next month and a two-day social service project to help underprivileged children in February. The highlight of the year will be a Youth Leadership Seminar in April. It will be a four-day camp featuring talks, workshops, games, debates, drama performances and group activities. Following the success of last year's trip to the Silk Road, the union is planning another trip to the mainland during the summer holidays. 'With all the programmes, I hope more and more people will learn about the union. And by the end of my term, I hope every one of us will be proud of what we have accomplished,' Pui-chee says.