Lifestyle

Finding yourself in the changing world

For Ben Sir, 2017 was a year of change. After finishing his contract as senior lecturer in CUHK's Department of Chinese Language, Ben Sir started a new career as a media personality, appearing on TV and other platforms as a promoter and educator of the Chinese language. Leaving academia and becoming a freelancer in the creative industry not only gives him the opportunity to explore more possibilities, but also helps him understand his role in the society and the value that he can provide to others.

 Playing volleyball and basketball in high school, Ben Sir has always been a playful and adventurous person; he later pursued his love for sports and became a primary school PE teacher. However, the stable job didn’t provide him with a lot of fulfillment, as he gradually realised that while playing sports was his hobby, language was his true passion – it was the oxygen that he couldn’t live without. During his time as a primary school teacher, he studied in an undergraduate programme for Chinese language and got his bachelor’s degree, before pursuing a PhD and becoming a lecturer of Chinese language and literature at CUHK. In the classroom, Ben Sir would reference topical issues when analysing texts with his students. He believes that using real life examples as a tool to dissect the meaning behind texts is instrumental in helping students gain a deeper understanding of the Cantonese language.

Everybody has had that feeling that they’ve reached a bottleneck in their life. To Ben Sir, that signals an urgent desire for a breakthrough. His promotion to a senior lecturer prompted Ben Sir to ask himself how to take his interest in and understanding of Cantonese outside of the ivory tower. At the time, he was invited for a shooting of the TV series “More Than Words”, where he talked about the idiosyncrasies and nuances of Cantonese with winning charisma and a sense of humour.
The audience’s overwhelmingly positive reception led to a string of Cantonese-related TV appearances, from variety shows to property programmes. As time went on, these opportunities awakened his urge for change, and it’s a voice louder than his fear of leaving the comfortable campus life. Eventually, after much consideration and plenty of discussions with his wife, Ben Sir made the big decision to leave academia and express himself in a different role. Without a fixed schedule and steady income, Ben Sir was inspired to figure out a way of working and living that would be perfect for him. He wants to build a career that’s cross-discipline and cross-media, and has the ambition to make a documentary on the Cantonese language in the future.

With his first dive into real estate investment in the 1990s, Ben Sir has always preferred living on Hong Kong Island. Currently residing in Causeway Bay with his wife, he explains that transport and the level of convenience are his two priorities when choosing a place to call home. As a person working in the creative industry, he enjoys a simple and minimalist interior and doesn’t want complicated designs to be a distraction from his work.

Ben Sir has a short-term goal of retiring at 55, a way to motivate himself to take on as many challenges as he can in between now and then. A self-admitted “natural born performer”, Ben Sir is committed to keep promoting the Cantonese language to the public in the future. With an entertaining and accessible approach, he will continue to strive to popularise this unique and beautiful language, and at the same time, enjoy every moment in front of the camera.