• Annie Bocock

In Digital Discussion with: Yongpian Cai

When Yongpian Cai first arrived in the UK she became silent, repressed by the culture shock, and now she knows how to speak out she’s unstoppable...

Yongpian Cai joined the TEDxBrayfordPool stage in December 2019, at our Women event, talking about how she found the power in speaking out in all areas of her life. She currently is a student at the University of Lincoln working towards her Masters in Events Management, she’s a member of the Digital Students Ambassador Group (DSAG) where she’s been given the opportunity to speak on panels and enact more change, she’s a digital marketing freelancer, has been featured as a case study for Prospects and is an experienced dancer of ten years! You can find out more about her and what she does through her website: https://pinpinchoi.com/.

I see her dancing on the Brayford Pool bridge (I don’t, this isn’t a physical interview) and I call her name, she smiles (she doesn’t, again not a physical interview).

“Hello Yongpian Cai, who are you?”

“I was born in the south part of China, Guangzhou, near Hong Kong. I can speak English, Chinese, French and Cambodian, and has been a hip-hop dancer for 10 years. My bachelor’s degree in the study of the literature of Cambodia, inspired a two-year stay in the beautiful south-east Asian country. Now I study MSc Events Management at the University of Lincoln.

Yet despite travelling and volunteering in 14 countries in Asia and Europe, I faced culture-shock in the United Kingdom. Recognising considerable diversities among the cultures of the world, I began applying my critical thinking skills to individual variation and feminism in society.

I jumped out of my comfort zone to come to completely different countries, becoming a bold and brilliant woman in the process. I am brave enough to express myself in the whole world and discuss my ideas of feminism from a different cultural point of view.

Sometimes it might feel safer to stay silent. Being asked, ‘What do you think?’ seems like an opportunity and a permission to speak out your own thoughts, making you more likely to talk about your feelings. However, if everything needs permission, how can we generate change, creativity and innovation in society? Women should be brave enough to claim their rights and eliminate misunderstandings of feminism. After all, everyone wins when men and women have equal rights.”

“That’s really touching and inspirational, thank you for sharing that! What would you say first inspired you to give a TEDx Talk?”

“1. ‘Give it a go.’ As I mentioned in my TEDx Talk, I prefer to jump out of my comfort zone and explore different opportunities in my career. I joined a workshop held by TEDxBrayfordPool in October 2019. At that time, I even felt scared speaking out my opinions in front of 8 people in the discussion session. What surprised me was that at the end of the workshop, a lady came to ask me if I want to apply for a TEDx Talk. I rejected at the very first beginning with the reasons for being scared and not knowing what to say. However, this offer has been stuck in my head for a couple of days. Sometimes, you just need to act like you know what you are doing and give it a go. I started to visualise myself speaking in TEDx Talk, which is such a wonderful image in my head. Then I started to think about my topic which comes to my second inspiration.

2. Responsibility definitely plays an important role in encouraging me to give a TEDx Talk. I have transformed myself from an ‘invisible’ person to a public speaker while many people still choose to stay silent when facing difficulties or unfair treatment. I want to use my authentic story to generate sympathy with them and encourage them to speak out their opinions bravely.”

“How has your life changed since you learned to speak out?”

“I became more confident and proactive in talking with people and feel more engaged within the community. I embrace every chance to join different events to expand my networking. It is so interesting to learn from others while also share my ideas. During the lockdown, I have joined Resilient Lincolnshire as a guest in the panel discussion to share my digital engagement experience, I also have gained lots of business insight from SIEMENS. Soft skills such as resilience, interpersonal skills, networking skills and communication skills gained from the TEDx Talk have been transferable to different perspectives of my life.”

“You’re a very inspirational woman with a plethora of side-projects such as your vlogs, hip-hop dancing, and taking part in other opportunities to further your career. Where do you find inspiration to create what you do and how do you manage your time?”

“I just love doing it. I enjoy dancing since I can find the connection between my body movement and musicality. This is where my passion is, and I am so in the zone whenever I dance. My coach has asked me if I can’t insist on the things I love and make it better and better, what else I can do better than this? I think this is why I am so keen on dancing no matter what I am doing and where I am. It gives me the motivation to do my best and realise my value in different perspectives.

My website and vlogs are inspired by TEDx Talk, which makes me realise that my story can bring some positive impact on the others. Therefore, I find my new passion on running my website.

I like to catch every opportunity to explore the world. There is always something new that can surprise me. Besides, I think now is the best time for me to make a progress. Hence, I make full use of every day to up-skill myself.

For time management, work-life balance is very important to me. Identify the priority in different period and get my head down to do it the best while a short break is vital to make myself productive and happy through dancing and doing sports. After all, a to-do list is essential in arranging my work and life. “

“What are your plans to change the world?”

“I don’t know if I can change the world, but I would like to do my best in my career, take social responsibility and realise my value. I will use my experience and strength to make a positive influence on others and contribute to the community.”

”Okay quick fire! Three words to sum up the TEDx experience?”

“Relief, Enjoy, Proud.”

“Favourite TEDx Talk?”

How to gain control of your free time | Laura Vanderkam. This TED Talk has provided a guideline for my time management. We can build the lives we want by choosing to do different priorities in different time aligned with our goal and value. There is time for what matters in our lives, which also remind the importance of the balance between work and life.”

“Favourite book?”

“7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book helps me reflect on my attitude towards life and behaviours and responses within different contexts. In particular, during the quarantine period, this book has made me become more positive and productive in this tough period.”

“On a more topical note, what have been your favourite songs during lockdown?”

“I love music and I listen to different types of music every day such as Hip-hop, R&B, Pop, Jazz, etc. During this lockdown, one of my favourite songs is “Good Job” by Alicia Keys, which shows gratitude to the heroes around us. This song raises the strong sympathy of people and makes the world more connected. Maybe we will feel frustrated during this period but when I think of the massive effort of the frontline workers, I will become more positive and grateful. I am thankful for the frontline heroes to keep us safe. “

“That's lovely! Thank you for talking to me!”

She physically can’t respond because this isn’t a verbal interview and she didn’t hear me say that.

You can watch Yongpian Cai’s talk here.



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