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2018 in review

From a Holocaust survivor to a transgender university lecturer – 10 of the most inspiring people from 2018

  • We look back at some of the year’s most worthy role models, from a star ballerina to a Malaysian artist challenging expectations of her as a Muslim woman
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 December, 2018, 6:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 December, 2018, 6:22am

From a transgender university lecturer fighting prejudice to an intensive care doctor who treats patients at altitude, we look back at some of 2018’s most worthy role models.

1. Hong Kong transgender lecturer Brenda Alegre

Brenda Alegre is a transgender woman who was born and raised in Manila. In 2011 she moved to Hong Kong to teach Sexuality and Gender: Diversity and Society at the University of Hong Kong.

In January, Alegre talked candidly to the Post about her fight to be accepted by a conservative society, and her fear of the police. Read her story here.

2. Holocaust survivor Werner Reich

A Holocaust survivor “understands” the Asian fetish for Nazi uniforms – but the underlying evil should never be forgotten, said Werner Reich when he visited Hong Kong earlier this year to tell students about his experience in concentration camps.

Read his story here.

3. Yoga pioneer David Swenson 

David Swenson stayed in Hong Kong for two years in the mid-1980s teaching Ashtanga yoga when no studios were in business. Today, he is one of the world’s most sought-after teachers in a thriving industry. Read his story here.

4. US ballet star Misty Copeland 

Pioneering black ballet dancer Misty Copeland wants to keep destroying stereotypes and changing attitudes. In her first visit to Hong Kong earlier this year, Copeland talked about how she became the first black performer to be made principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre – and how in another life she could have been a chef. Read her story here.

5. Chiropractor Sampsun Wong

After three years of travel and study, Sampsun Wong Yat-tak developed Yide Therapy – a holistic approach that combines traditional chiropractic methods with other more gentle manual therapy techniques. Now he gives free aqua therapy treatment to old people in Hong Kong, runs a medical centre and travels around China offering help to the needy. Read his story here.

6. Canadian singer Joyce Cheng

Canadian singer and actress Joyce Cheng Yan-yee, daughter of late comedienne Lydia Sum and singer Adam Cheng, has faced her fair share of criticism, from comments about her weight to her Cantonese, but finally she’s come into her own. Read her story here.

7. Malaysian artist Engku Iman 

A prayer mat vandalised and cut into squares, an unsubtle commentary on the secular and the sublime – Malaysian artist Engku Iman challenges expectations of her as a Muslim woman. Read her story here.

8. Mountaineer doctor Harmony To 

An intensive-care doctor in Hong Kong who sees patients close to death and regretting things they haven’t done is determined to live life to the fullest, and test her limits, on peaks of the Himalayas. Read her story here.

9. Hong Kong teen bucks the social media trend 

Pia Sellery is not your average 19-year-old. Her only social media account is Snapchat, which she seldom uses. Excessive social media use has been linked to depression and anxiety among teens so it’s good to hear that there are some teenagers not running with the herd. Read her story here.

10. Chinese-American criminal turned youth counsellor  

Jailed for life in California and denied parole 12 times: how this Chinese-American found redemption after prison. Eddy Zheng spent 21 years behind bars. A model prisoner who, since his release, has helped inmates and at-risk youth, he is the subject of an award-winning documentary about his life. Read his story here.