AWE View with Melissa Leong
Melissa Leong came to our lives at AWE Conference KL 2013. She shared her knowledge on freelancing. She’s a freelance writer and editor, runs a company with her husband, manages film festival, and raising an adorable little girl in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. She again spoke at our second conference that was hosted in her hometown about being a new mother. She’s an inspirational woman and most of all, a great friend.
Here is her thoughts on women’s Empowerment.
1. How did you hear about AWE?
Through a friend, Noel Lau – he said there might be an opportunity for me to speak at the AWE and the rest is history!
2. Was it what you expected?
A chance to meet, network, share experiences and exchange ideas with women around Asia
3. What surprised you about the conference?
The range of people you meet! From homemakers to professionals; people who travel for a living, people passionate about their cause be it wildlife or literacy for children. But everyone shared the common goal of being authentic to your calling. I was also pleasantly surprised to meet so many women who have the desire to break out of their ‘controlled environments’ and pursue whatever it is they really love – sometimes you think, “I must be the weird one” and then AWE changes all that. It was so comforting to know I had a whole range of people to speak to and share ideas with – especially those who are on the same path and are living out they life they want. It motivates you to keep propelling forward!
4. Did you learn anything from the 2014 and 2015 conference?
Yes, definitely. Empowerment doesn’t come from your environment – it starts with you. You have to build your confidence and surround yourself with people and environments that support your ambition, not suppress it. And that the pursuit of what you love is never an easy journey – it shouldn’t be easy! Your experiences – both good and bad – are the best way to test what you’re truly made of. The keynote speakers particularly have great impact during the AWE – Lek Chailert, founder of the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai from 2014, stands out for me.
5. Are you planning to attend the 2016 conference?
If my writing-mummy-travel-film-festival-planning schedule allows it, yes!
6. What would you say to someone who’s not sure about attending AWE Conference?
Go stand in the corner! But seriously, if you have the chance, grab it. It’s a fantastic weekend of networking and until today, I’ve formed partnerships and friendships thanks to AWE.
7. “Asian Women’s Empowerment”: what does that mean to you?
Having a choice and being able to make a decision to fulfill your life. It doesn’t matter if you choose to be a stay at home mom or climb that corporate ladder – Being empowered means having the freedom to pursue the lifestyle of your choice. In Asian societies in particular, women face so much judgement and expectations.We fear being condemned and ostracised by our families and friends for not ‘fitting in a mould’ expected of us. To me, the Asian Women’s Empowerment conference is a excellent platform where women can take away these masks to reveal their true self and be authentic without the fear of being judged. And hopefully, inspire and motivate women to take a step closer to their dreams.