The Liebster Award


About 4 weeks ago much to my surprise, I was informed that Every Word Counts received a nomination for the Liebster Award. I am incredibly honoured.

Every Word Counts was nominated by Sherrie Beaver of I Sign. I Wander. Sherrie is Deaf and has just begun a new chapter of her life in Melbourne. She is passionate about travelling, and encourages other Deaf people to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world. Her blog posts captures that beautifully and gives readers an insight into the barriers that Deaf people encounter in their travels as well as their ability to move beyond them.

THANK YOU to Sherrie Beaver for the nomination.

Prior to being nominated, I had no clue about the Liebster Award. After reading up about it in greater detail, I think it’s an excellent concept – new bloggers recommending other new bloggers.This can be effective in helping other bloggers amass an online network with other bloggers and motivate them to continue writing.

Also, what a fantastic way to reach a wider audience and impact lives with your writing! Someone who read my blog said this to me in person a couple of months ago: “Never underestimate the power of words. It can reach out, comfort and touch the lives many individuals even if you have never met the person reading it. You never know, it might actually turn a life around and give someone hope.”

The rules of Liebster Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back up to his/her blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  • Nominate other bloggers for the award.
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer
  • Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.


I have been given a set of questions to answer…Here I go… 🙂

1. What is one travelling experience that has had a huge impact on you?

My two trips to South Korea in January and May 2012. I didn’t expect nor plan to go to the same country twice in the same year but it just happened. For those who know me well enough, I am capable of making decisions on the spur of the moment just to travel to a place, and I love the spontaneity of it all. I am glad I did as it was the combination of both trips to Seoul that was life-changing for me in ways I didn’t expect.

I travelled there in January wanting to catch up with Ji-Hye Park, a good friend of mine from South Korea. I also wanted to see South Korea for all it’s beauty after watching some of the Korean historical drama TV series. The beauty of the country had captivated my heart. My love for Korean food that had grown over the years was another push factor in me going.

But all those reasons why I went, was not what impacted me. I had a fabulous time engaging in heart-to-heart conversations with Ji-Hye. It was what she shared with me about her involvement with Justice for North Korea (JFNK) and her role as a human rights activist fighting for the rights of North Koreans  and providing aid to North Korean defectors, that left a lasting impression on me. Her passion was so contagious!

In May, I made a second trip to Seoul for the Asian Pacific Deaf games to write an article for publication on the DiVine website. During this time, I stayed with Ji-Hye again and also had the opportunity to visit the JFNK office in Insadong where I was introduced to Peter Jung, another human rights activist, who risked his life helping North Korean refugees hiding in China to escape and to get to South Korea eventually. My interest for human rights and social justice grew and I found myself increasingly passionate about the topic and looking for ways to be involved in the area.

And then last year in October, I received a grant to attend the World Federation of the Deaf conference in Sydney. There were two presentations that left me pondering. After the conference, I started questioning everything I was doing in my life and asking myself what it was that I really wanted to do. This led to my decision to apply to the Master of Arts in International Development course at Gallaudet University which I will be commencing in the fall.

Going back to the question, I can’t say that it is ONE travelling experience that has had a huge impact on me. It took a few different travel experiences- two to South Korea and one to Sydney. Also, not forgetting I’ve been to the Philippines twice where I did an applied cultural anthropology field work course with Wycliffe Bible Translators and visited Deaf schools. I believe everything I’ve learnt has helped me put the big picture together and given me a clear idea of where I am heading career wise.

Amazing how a single decision or a series of events can alter the direction of your whole life!

2. Why do you enjoy travelling?

I love travelling for the unexpected encounters and events that will inevitably arise in every trip. No matter how well a trip is thought out, it will never go according to plan. Thus, it is important to go with the flow and always expect the unexpected! 😉

3. What barriers have you encountered during your travels?

I recall walking into a Korean eatery in Hapjeong by myself wanting to buy lunch in May 2012. It wasn’t one of those upmarket restaurants that had proper menus with photographs. Anyway, the menu was written in white A3 paper and put up on the walls. And, they were all written in Korean without any photographs! Also, having met many Korean people in Brisbane, I assumed that every Korean could speak at least some English. However, to my dismay I found that many of the locals could not speak or write a word of English. And what was even harder, was that I went in to several eateries along the same street and all the menus were displayed in the same way!

It turned out that the lady tending the eatery did not know a word of English. Initially, I tried pointing to items in the menu and asking her to bring out food ingredients to show me what they they were. This attempt was not successful and I was becoming increasingly frustrated. I also didn’t feel comfortable just pointing randomly to something on the menu and settling for it not knowing what I was going to get. In the end, I just recited the names of the different Korean food in the Korean language that I had learnt and memorised from Korean friends I had met in Brisbane until the stall owner told me she had that particular food. Much to my relief and finally, I settled for something familiar known as Bibim Myun – a bowl of kim chi noodles served cold and only available in the summer months!

4. Do you have any advice for Deaf people who are thinking of travelling?

Just go! Don’t even think about it. Don’t hesitate. Just go!

Many people think you need a lot of money to travel but the truth is you don’t, depending your destination. Even if one doesn’t have the cash, venturing to new places even within their local vicinity is a step forward and an enriching experience. You will be surprised at what you discover! Even in Singapore, my home country, I am always discovering new places.

And, you learn even more when you move to a new state or country. You have to adapt to the culture, problem-solve and confront numerous challenges but the experience is worth it and will change you in ways you never imagined.

I’ve lived 11.5 years in Australia and each year brought with it lessons, memories and personal growth. I know I am not the same person I was last year, nor the year before that, 3 years ago or even 11.5 years ago! My outlook on life has broadened and my thinking and attitudes have been refined. I have also outgrown situations and learnt to view past events of my life both good and bad in a different light. Today, I feel profoundly different from the person I was before! 🙂

A favourite quote of mine by Nelson Mandela:

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

5. Who are your inspirations?

There are three people who have been my inspirations.

The first person is my father. He one of the most hardworking people in the world that I know and also one of the most generous. When we have been blessed by much, it is a call to live simply and generously in ways that bless the lives of other people. His life is a living example of that.

The second person is my Korean friend, Ji-Hye Park who is someone who lives for something that is bigger than herself. I admire her courage. As to how she has inspired me, please refer to my response to question 1.

The third person is Joni Eareckson Tada. She doesn’t know who I am but many people around the world know who she is. When she was 18 years old, she became a quadriplegic from a diving accident. Joni went through so much in her life but has overcome them. Despite her disability, she has written several books, done several paintings with her mouth, composed songs and set up an organisation called “Wheels for the World” that distributes wheelchairs and Bibles around the world in developing countries. She has touched many lives. A few months ago, I read a book that she wrote with her husband and how they battled the odds together in their marriage. The book is titled “Joni and Ken: An untold love story”. What a beautiful love story. It had me in tears! What inspires me is her deep, abiding love for God and her faith despite all that she has gone through.

6. What is your life motto?

Keep my mind open to change while holding on to my core values. To live for something larger than myself and live my life aligned with my Christian beliefs.

A quote that will stick by me in the years to come:

Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

7. What is your favourite thing about sign language?

I love how that no matter where I am in the world, it is so easy to connect with Deaf people anywhere because of sign language. It’s the one thing bringing Deaf people together regardless of their cultural background. Recently, a Deaf Singaporean friend introduced me to 3 Gallaudet students who happened to be travelling Singapore. I had an awesome time going around Singapore with them and also learning a couple of ASL signs.

8. What would you like to see the Deaf community achieve?

I hope that the Deaf in developed countries who have had many opportunities in their lives will seek to find ways to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of other Deaf in developing countries who are often left behind.

9. What do YOU hope to achieve out of your travels?

I think travelling is much more meaningful when you actually engage with the locals in their communities and uncover stories instead of only going with the aim of sight-seeing. In my future travels, wherever I go, I want to have a bigger focus on getting to know the locals, their communities and the culture on a deeper level instead of only seeing places. I wish to write the stories I find in my travels in this blog.

10. Describe your travels in one sentence.

My travels are life-changing and filled with adventure.


Now for my nominations!

Cats and Chocolate – Lizzie Ward-McLaughlan is from London. She is a Deaf blogger, journalist and creative writer who loves to travel and explore new places. Her blog contains insightful articles related to deafness and deaf identity, the writing life, feminism, women’s studies, body and self acceptance, and the arts, as well as anything else that captures her interest. Her writing contains depth and authenticity that reflects how in touch she is with herself.

Racheal’s Realm – Racheal Missingham is from Brisbane.. She is a Deaf circus artist with Vulcana Woman’s Circus. In her blog, she explores the arts from the perspective of a Deaf person.  An avid traveller, she also writes about her travels and anything that is of interest to her such as health and wellbeing. Racheal shares her insights on life and deafness in her blog as well as the challenges she encounters. Her writing reflects her tenacity and perseverance despite life’s obstacles.

Now that you have been nominated, it would be wonderful if you could find some time to answer my set of questions and post it in your blog. 😉 I look forward to reading them if you do.

1.  Share 2 insights that you have gleaned from your past travels. What did you learn? How did it impact you? 

2. If you were Aladdin who rubbed the lamp and the genie granted you 3 wishes, what would you wish for right now?




3. What are your aspirations for the future?

4. What steps will you take to achieve those dreams?

5. What do you hope to see in the Deaf community 10 years from now? 

6. Do you have a favourite quote? What is it and why is it your favourite?

7. Who has inspired you and how did they inspire you?

8. What principles do you live by?

9. If you were offered an open-ended book project, what would you write about?

10. How would you define the concept of “Deaf identity” in your own words?


Let me know when you have done this on your blog as I would love to read your responses! 😉


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