Lingnan Stories

Prof Lau Yin-ping, Grace
Professor, Department of Chinese

Prof Grace Lau

There is no other way to better inspire students than sincere communication.

Prof Grace Lau

When Prof Grace Lau Yin-ping joined Lingnan University, she could scarcely have dreamed of the dramatic changes she would be able to make to the lives of her students and Hong Kong’s younger generation.

Soul cultivation

One may ask how a teacher of the history of Chinese classical literature, classical fiction, mythology and literature like Prof Lau could make a major impact on students. The answer is simple: be sincere and believe in the power of the arts.

"The classroom is the arena for teachers to enlighten and challenge students intellectually," she says. "They should be encouraged to exercise their critical thinking and become their own teachers. If we focus too much on the pedagogical approach, students will be alienated from the real meaning and value of the text and merely consider it material for assessment purposes, which will be quickly forgotten afterwards. The complementary approach of soul cultivation, therefore, induces students to read the text more closely, and with a deeper appreciation. Students will then be drawn much closer to the authors. This has been shown to be effective in learning critically from the wisdom of the masters, and practising it in life."

She has numerous stories to tell but if she is only allowed to mention one, she says, it has to be the student with mobility difficulties, or in the eyes of many, the one who was "handicapped".

"He suffered from a rare disease. He was not only confined to a wheelchair, but also had to rely on a ventilator to sustain life," Prof Lau recalls. "He could neither walk nor move between bookshelves in the library in his wheelchair. He also had difficulty speaking, because of the ventilator. Moreover, he had to go in and out of hospital for treatment from time to time. Yes, to us, his studies, and, more importantly, life, was a challenge. But he didn't feel disheartened, nor want to give up. Rather, he worked even harder and graduated with good results." Without persistence and a passion for learning, the student could never have achieved such success; without the help and inspiration of Prof Lau, his path may not be as smooth as it was. "Not every student can deal with adversity with perseverance and an indefatigable spirit," Prof Lau says. "As a mother with teaching experience in secondary school, I may be in a better position to understand the difficulties and anxiety students often face."

Reaching out to students

Having served at Lingnan for 22 years, Prof Lau has undoubtedly inspired and taught many. "I could not look after every student, but I am always trying my very best to help those in need," she says. To walk the walk, despite her heavy workload in teaching, research and administration, as well as family matters, she always takes the initiative to reach out to her students, "to listen to their inner thoughts and feelings", and keeps her door open. "There is no other way to better inspire students than sincere communication," she stresses.

Prof Lau has received a Certificate of Merit for Teaching and the Teaching Excellence Award three times, and was also the first recipient of the Master Teacher Award at Lingnan. Her desk is surrounded by appreciation cards, souvenirs and photos with students and friends. They speak volumes about the close and affectionate bonding between teachers and students built on Lingnan's liberal arts ethos of "inspiring lives with lives".