Den Hotdog: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

So I hear that you are leaving this year. What convinced you to do so?

Well, to put it in the simplest way possible, my grandmother is in poor health, and she needs someone to stay close to her. It’s not as if this was sudden; the administration had agreed that I would come back only for this semester. If you want it philosophically, there isn’t a single reason that convinces us to do certain things; the simplest answer only makes the reasons behind actions more complex.

What was your favorite class to teach?

I can’t exactly decide on a single class that was my all time favorite. I really have too many to choose from: philosophy was my major, speech was simply a fun class, worldview, in my opinion, is an important class. Freshmen are the best class to teach, and I can’t say that I really like English.

Where are you planning to go after leaving this school? What are you planning to do?

I don’t know… Raise pigs. Become an ice cream taste tester. Start a dating website.

What was one of the more memorable moments in your class?

Back when I first started teaching in ICS, I gave the freshmen class an assignment on their first week with me. They were to write a short biography about themselves; I set the assignment with a due date of Friday, and my expectation was for all of them to turn the assignment in late. What astounded me was that the entire class had written really well and not one had turned it in late. I was amazed, humbled and just fell in love with ICS and especially that class. I was just super super happy to be here. I believe I have a similar event for every single class that I taught, but that was the just the first.

I’m sure that you have garnered much wisdom over your many years of experience. Care to share any with us?

I used to think that the purpose of education was the acquisition of knowledge; be it head or practical knowledge, like how to analyze and speak. Now I know that education is not about gaining knowledge, but gaining morality. Education in essence is moral teaching; the main problem with school today is that grades measure knowledge, not morality. Really, the purpose of education is to make good citizens, and that involves moral teaching.

What advice do you have for us students?

This ties in with the prior question: prioritize morality and build character.

What was your favorite book of all time? Do you have one that really blows you away, and puts all the rest to shame?

I like different books for different reasons. Honestly, I’m still enthralled by the book of Genesis. This may seem cliche, but the Bible is really a rich book. In terms of literature, One Hundred Years of Solitude is the most creatively written book I’ve ever read. A few other good books would be The Once and Future King or East of Eden. A book that I have read over and over again since reading it is “The Chronicles of Narnia”.

Do you have any hobbies not related to academia?

Well, I really like to draw, and just art in general. I’m rather artistically interested, be it paintings, sculptures, architecture. When I was in China, I spent a fair amount of time developing my interest in art, but I don’t have such opportunities in Singapore. What I see about modern art is that when one draws, one captures something, and the realism of the art tends to determine just how good the art is. However, I feel that doesn’t need to draw an accurate picture; it should capture what I am. Art is spiritual; it is able to go beyond the physical. That is the main problem I have with modern art; simply drawing the physical is bad, while transcending  reality and drawing truth is good.

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