At age sixteen, I won the gold medal and became the World Champion of Sport Stacking with a record of 1.915 seconds. I thought that if I were determined to achieve something and practiced every day, everything would happen just as I had planned. I was wrong.
I won the championship after five years of non-stop obsessive daily practice. Sometimes I would practice for over eight hours to improve my time by as little as a thousandth of a second. I suffered hundreds of fumbles, pain from numerous of elbow injuries, and being bullied by classmates. Winning the championship wasn't easy; I never thought it would be. However, I did not expect that winning would set me on a challenging road of self-discovery.
(Photo taken by Benjamin Lurie)
Spending five years of focusing only on winning made me realize that I was only paying attention to my own achievement; I was not giving anything back to society. Therefore, after winning the championship, I gave a speech at TEDx Taipei and then began touring around Taiwan to give talks at schools to young students hoping that my story would inspire children to pursue their dreams. I have given speeches at twelve schools each year since 2015. I find great pleasure in knowing that young people see my story as inspiring and motivating. While motivating young people to pursue their goals was fulfilling, it also made me realize that it was time for me begin to work towards my next goal.
Professional photography has always been one of my dreams, and the time finally seemed right to seriously pursue that dream. I took a gap year after graduating from high school and spent 110 days traveling around the world to make a documentary film about sport stacking. Although the trip was filled with joy and inspiration for me, there were also many setbacks: I was robbed in Germany; I missed my train in Italy; I was in the middle of the terrorist attack in Paris; my flight was canceled due to the labor strike in Chile.
Even though my family encouraged me to return home after every setback, I refused. I knew that I needed to face my challenges independently. Facing those setbacks taught me that I have the tools within myself to overcome anything, and I returned from my trip even more determined to continue my schooling in the arts and become a photographer.
My adventures in sport stacking and world traveling has made me realize that having a lofty goal is not the scariest thing in the world; the scariest thing in the world is having no goals at all. Sport stacking inspired me to explore the world, follow my own path, and achieve my own success. It has been six years since I won the champion, and I am excited to be moving on to the next chapter and become a photographer, where there rules for “scoring points” aren’t as finite. While I haven’t yet figured out how to remain in the “champion’s seat,” I’ve finally come to recognize life doesn’t always give us a set of rules to play and win by; however, I feel confident that I can navigate my course and become a successful photographer in my own right. This newfound confidence in myself gives me the tenacity to rise above my fears, overcome challenges, and face an unknown future head on.
2019-2021 Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Major in Photography
2017-2018 University of Hawaii, Kapiolani Community College, Honolulu, HI, USA
Major in Liberal Arts (Focusing on Art)
2012-2015 Song Shan High School of Commerce and Home Economics, Taipei, Taiwan
Major in Data Processing
Awards & Achievement
2020 Eddie Adams Workshop XXXIII
2020 Winner, SPJ The CCC Awards
2018 Honor Student of Art Department S.T.A.R Awards
( S.T.A.R. -Students Thanked And Recognized is an award banquet for Honolulu Community College students who have excelled in academics, campus involvement, campus student organizations, or as student campus employees)
2015-2016 Travel Around The World - 10 countries in 110 days
2013 Champion, World Sport Stacking Association:
2013 World Sport Stacking Championships3-3-3 in 15-16 Age Division
2020- Present Photojournalist at The Columbia Chronicle, Chicago, IL
Visual coverage for wide ranges of news and events.
AP style writing for articles and captions.
2017-2018 Video/Film Production Assistant at Sika Films, Taipei, Taiwan
Pre-production, assistant director and assistant cinematographer
2016-2017 Assistant of Fulbright Scholar Richard Cornelisse Film Project: Taiwan Street Stories
Assist with filming, interview and translation
Selected Public Speech
2019 Aegon Life Annual Conference
2017 Design For Change Israel Annual Conference
2016 Design For Change Annual Global Celebration
Nike Taiwan Marketing
2015 Amway Taiwan Annual Conference
AIESEC Taiwan Winter National Conference
2014 TEDx Taipei: What Matters Now