Ling Ling is an intercultural psychologist, a seasoned learning and development professional, and a former electronics engineer. She comes alive when discovering diverse perspectives and illuminating insights from within. Ling Ling deeply cares about connecting people from diverse backgrounds, exploring the richness of life, and fostering inclusive and compassionate communities.
Since 2005, Ling Ling has designed, developed and facilitated various corporate programmes in technology, travel and humanitarianism across four continents. In 2017, she founded Culture Spark Global (CSG). Initially, CSG was focused on the professional development of intercultural skills and competence. Over the years, CSG has evolved to offer personal and professional development in psychological and sociocultural skills to enhance the well-being of talents, leaders and teams. Today, CSG's mission is to empower talents and leaders to positively impact the world with inspirational and actionable learning.
What was your intercultural challenge?
Not long ago, a friend asked about my first experience as a migrant. But I couldn't recall because I have been a migrant all my life. I've lived in 8 countries - Australia, Canada, the USA, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Serbia, Portugal and Malaysia, my birth country. Apart from my loving family and dear friends, I have not yet experienced what it is like to be "local". The struggles of a foreigner and the systemic discrimination in my birth country meant that I had lived experiences of exclusion, disrespect, neglect and various forms of aggression.
Humanity can no longer continue to divide itself, for one day, there will be nothing left to divide.
With these lived experiences, I seek to foster a humane, inclusive and compassionate world where people treat each other with dignity, respect and loving kindness, no matter the differences in their age, gender, race, religion or socio-economic status. Slowly but surely, my work evolved from being an engineer in a multinational organisation to a global learning and development professional and, today, an intercultural psychologist.
What was your inspiration?
In 2011, I volunteered with the British Red Cross as a facilitator for a psychosocial support program for single refugee mothers. We organised weekly afternoon sessions for mothers to learn English and British culture. Also, our team of facilitators babysat their children and prepared food packs for the week. Despite their experiences of human rights violations, separation from their families and harsh living conditions, they exuded joy.
Their smiles and laughs showed resilience. They worked hard to build a home and a community in their new country. Their courage and strength shook me powerfully and stayed with me for many years. As a migrant, the struggles of a refugee to find a "home" resonated with me deeply.
Ten years later, in 2021, I had the opportunity to research and work with refugees in Malaysia, Portugal and Serbia for my master's program with ISCTE-IUL. During my research, I met NGO and refugee community leaders, giving their best to serve their communities with what little they have. I admire and am in awe of the compassionate and selfless talents and leaders I have met and befriended. I've discovered a consistent need for continuous personal and professional development, which is frequently discussed in many conversations.
Deeply moved by their life of service, I'm inspired to support talents and leaders from all walks of life and at all levels of society. With nearly 20 years of learning & development experience, coupled with my expertise in intercultural psychology, I'm ready to use my skills to support talents and leaders in workplaces, non-profit organisations and communities in their personal and professional development so that they can effectively solve sociocultural issues, elevate humanity and cultivate inclusion and compassion everywhere.
How are you pursuing this?
I will be working on two things: the continuous personal and professional development of talents and leaders related to intercultural skills and refugee adaptation research.
After graduating from my master's program, I've decided to pursue a PhD in social psychology focusing on refugees' psychological and sociocultural adaptation. I hope my 4-year PhD project will result in the development of an assessment that can better determine refugees' adaptation in their new country. This assessment is an essential tool to support communities, third-sector organisations and government agencies in supporting refugees globally.
Additionally, I have evolved my business from being an independent trainer to becoming an online learning platform to empower talents and leaders in their diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts. Learners are encouraged to be self-directed and complete bite-sized lessons based on their specific needs and unique experiences. The platform also includes sharing the journeys of talents and leaders to inspire and encourage others to change their communities positively. One day, I hope this platform grows to become a global community where people from all walks of life can connect, discuss, learn, share and support each other in their unique journeys.
What did you wish you knew before embarking on this endeavour?
As with most others, I had been advised to follow my passion. But I didn't know what my passion was. I kept searching for the one career that would make my life happy. While I finally arrived at my dream career, it didn't turn out as "fantastic" as I had hoped.
So I kept searching. One day, it hit me. All the times I felt the greatest joy was when my work helped someone else to achieve their goals or spread happiness.
I wish I knew that passion and purpose are two different things. And pursuing purpose leads to a more fulfilling career and life than passion.
Passion is a powerful feeling of desire toward an activity, a person, or a cause. But passion is an emotion, and emotions are fleeting and ever-changing. Passion directs its attention towards the self and fulfilling personal desires.
Whereas purpose is the intention to achieve a long-term and meaningful goal. Purpose focuses on other people and how you can bring value to them. Happiness comes from striving to achieve your purpose rather than chasing your passion.
My advice is to pick a purpose that profoundly resonates with you and stay persistent. As you stay on course, the right people and right resources will fall into place. You will succeed! Blessings to you, and all the best in your journey.
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