Broadened horizons


I graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1991 with a bachelor in education, majoring in English. As far as I am aware, there are no other graduates of SFU in Hong Kong with this qualification.  

When I first arrived back in Hong Kong, I cast around for a job and worked for a few months in a primary school. But then I got a job teaching in a prestigious girls’ school. At this time I was fortunate to be accepted into the Hong Kong City University to study part-time for an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. It proved to be a perfect supplement to what I had studied at SFU. When I graduated, I found a post teaching English in a matriculation class in a boys’ high school for two years.

The school I was teaching in was in the process of moving from Kowloon to the New Territories. Unfortunately, they were not able to give me a post in the new school but, based on my English qualifications, I was able to secure a post as the head of the English department in a nearby school. I remained in this school until I retired. 

In my spare time, in the evenings, I also took up teaching English part-time at different times in the Open University, Baptist University and Hong Kong University. I can indeed claim that I have taught all levels of English from primary school to university! During these years, I was even able to produce some English language textbooks for students in Hong Kong. 

After I retired, I took up a post teaching English in a post-secondary college mainly focused on the use of English for vocational purposes such as nursing and social work. The salary was about one third of what I had previously been earning but I felt it gave me an opportunity to help less advantaged students who were unable to get into university. The post required a considerable amount of travelling and basically meant that I was working six days a week. It was a very taxing schedule. Fortunately, my former school principal headhunted me and I returned to my old school to teach the senior classes – which is where I am today. 

I must say that my studies at SFU not only helped me to build a successful career as an English teacher in Hong Kong but had a great influence on my personal development.  All my professors were knowledgeable, passionate and supportive so that I eventually fell in love with English literature. 

My studies at SFU broadened the horizons of my life and enlightened me to see the wisdom of human experience. I love the poetry of Wordsworth, Blake, Milton and Shakespeare. I also love the novels of female authors such as Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austin. These great poets and writers led me to love English literature and English history and broadened my horizons to include Russian literature, European and Greek philosophy and European culture generally. I would never have expected that my experience at SFU could have created such a miracle in my life. 

I will be eternally grateful to SFU and the teaching staff who taught me so much. My student number is still etched on my heart and my memories of SFU are always fresh. 

Virginia Li Lai-hing
B.Ed. 1991

Read all the stories from the 1990s