Update: I just got word from Suzanne that the Soft Launch of the World Peace Mission has been postponed, and that newer details are coming soon. I'll post them up when I get them. In the meantime, read on to see what this amazing woman is doing…
I am a big supporter and advocate for the promotion of youth initiatives. There are so many youths out there that are doing amazing things with their time, earning and distributing knowledge in all sorts of ways – and they could use all the exposure they can get. They are the perfect example of what education should be about: learning from various sources and putting that learning into action.
This next person here truly exemplifies the power of youth and initiative; she blows minds in more ways than one.
22-year-old Suzanne Lee has accomplished so much in such a short time. She's a model and an outdoor guide (amongst other things) and has travelled all over the world, but her clearest strength is her photography. With her crisp and crystal-clear shots, she really captures the energy and essence of all that she sees – from the people of the indegenous Penan tribe of Sarawak, East Malaysia, to the natural landscapes of Europe seen through a backpacker's eyes.
What's most amazing about her, though, is her natural drive and passion. Suzanne has had a pretty normal livelihood – she lives with her family in a small flat in Puchong, and went through the usual Malaysian school system. However, she didn't let that limit her or her interests. According to her response in Tony Pua's writeup on her in Education In Malaysia:
I graduated SPM with a grade one but what really kept me sane and individualistic is the extra-curricular activities and other self-searching activities I do after schooling hours. I did 9 types of self-defense art and a whole lot of track and field sports plus singing, dancing, disc jockeying, literature/critical thinking articles/poetry writing and socializing. I read the encyclopedia, the dictionary, many factual books and the newspaper. That was the only way I could’ve satisfied my inquisitions to the vast world ahead at the time.. until now, when I actually get to see, feel, smell and touch the actual places I've read about. It's a dream come true.. a dream I've been trying to make real.
So how did she manage to do all the things she's done? By following her strong "Work. Save. Plan" ethic. She's worked hard at all the jobs she's done – from carrying sacks at a Chinese herbal shop at age 14, to juggling 4 jobs to earn enough money to travel and photograph all that she sees. She's also very smart with her money – while on the road, she lives with host families (saving money and earning new friends), she does part-time or freelance work, and the only bills she has to worry about are for insurance and the telephone. She's put her degree in marine biology on indefinite hiatus to focus on her true passion. Her philosophy:
The world is my home and my legs are my transportation.
She will soon explore that world even further, and bring peace along the way. Through the World Peace Mission, she and a pilot will be flying solo across the world to 150 countries (including the Poles!) bringing along a petition for world leaders to sign for peace. They aim to set a few world records in aviation and travel, and they have the support of the United Nations, UNICEF, the Malaysian Government, and various NGOs to make this project happen.
If you're interested in learning more about the project, do come by for their Soft Launch at:
- Date: Tuesday, 9th May 2006 Update: Postponed
- Venue: Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
- Time: 10 am – 12 pm
You can find more information about the launch on PhotoKaki's thread, or contact Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do also read The Sun's article on her to find out more about her, as well as get some nifty backpacking tips.
From personal contact with her, as well as reading up about her, Suzanne truly strikes me as someone that is intelligent, fiercely independent, and so full of passion and life. She is truly someone that will go so far in life no matter her circumstances. She has taught herself what she needs to know and is now teaching the world about the power of initiative.
This is what alternative education is all about.
Links in Post:
- SmugMug: Suzanne Lee
- Education In Malaysia: Supergirl
- photokaki.com: Peace Mission (RSVP for invitations)
- The Sun: U!: Travel Tip: Carry a big camera