Not many people would have guessed that 23-year-old Bryan Chong, a strapping young man in his final year at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), was a victim of bullying in primary and secondary schools as he was the only student with profound hearing loss in class. Today an Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation scholar, Bryan shares the challenges he faced growing up with a hearing impairment and how overcoming them shaped his outlook in life.
My name is Bryan Chong, the only child of a small close-knitted family. I was born with profound hearing loss in both ears in 1993. I was diagnosed before I was one and was fitted with a cochlear implant at four before attending a mainstream kindergarten at the age of five and a half. Since then, experiences both good and bad have shaped the person I am today.
When I was growing up, one of the challenges I faced was bullying. I experienced all aspects of bullying – social, psychological, emotional and even physical. Initially, it did get me down and I would often feel worthless. My crushed ego and diminished self-esteem affected my sense of identity. The situation was exacerbated when peers often made fun of me using derogatory remarks centralising around my condition and my cochlear implant. Once, a student even flicked my cochlear implant off from a height of six storeys. Although the device was not damaged, the incident made the then 14-year-old me feel very small and worthless as it seemed that in my life ahead I was destined to be made the butt of all jokes. The good thing was that this only reinforced my fortitude to work harder and to prove to others, and more importantly myself, wrong.
There were many other challenges too as I was growing up but now I only recall reminding myself constantly of my goal to use the bad from my past to fuel myself towards the future and to make myself a better person in all aspects, hopefully also to serve as a motivation to others. It was not easy and I had many goals at different points, such as making it to a local university from polytechnic, taking up bodybuilding to participate in a physique competition and training hard to better my breaststroke timing.
Today, I am a 23-year-old final year psychology undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). I love to get involved in various social activities. Looking back at my growing up years, I now believe that challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. That being said, I beseech anyone, regardless of abilities, to do their best in whatever they do and to never let anyone or any adversity get them down but rather, to use them as motivation to fuel them in working towards their goals. As of now, I am passionate about cheerleading as I have found fulfilment in improving myself and helping others improve in the sport.
Signing off with my latest love, “Cheerleading”, which I have been pursuing for the past nine months. No, the girl’s name is not Cheerleading but yeah, got you there 😉