USJ students talk about their submissions to The Young Post

2023-11-06 03:21     BY Rui Pastorin    Comment:0

In the past four editions of The Young Post, readers were able to read essays on various topics from the perspectives of eight different writers, all of whom are students enrolled in different majors at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ), learning English with Principal Lecturer Prof. Jason Chan.

From reading about recovering from a sport-related injury, raising awareness of mental health based on personal experiences, knowing what it’s like to live far from one’s home, to even adjusting to living on the sixth floor in a completely different environment, there was no shortage of interesting topics. And last week, The Young Post was able to catch up with Prof. Chan and his students to talk about their submissions, as well as the inspirations behind them.

A task with a purpose

Prof. Chan originally came up with the idea for an office tour of The Macau Post Daily and to teach students how to write for a newspaper, which then developed into making submissions to The Young Post. Being a very task-based approach teacher, Prof. Chan said he wanted to give students more than just a task, but something with a purpose to make it much more interesting.

Prof. Chan then worked with his students on their essays, going over their drafts with them and helping them organise their thoughts, a critical aspect of putting an essay together, he said. 

“It’s a very rewarding process. You don’t become a great writer overnight, and I think that’s very important also for them to know”, Chan said. 

Being very proud of his students, Chan pointed out that what he found to be most interesting was seeing how excited the students had become upon seeing their work published. “I think for all of them, this is the first time that anything they have written is published. And this is something they can always remember”. 

Chan noted that activities like this were great as it allowed people, students in particular, to “do something that they can actually see”.

“Without being able to see, then you don’t know the purpose. Without a purpose, then it all comes down to somebody making you do something”, he underlined.

Talking about sport and living away from home

Speaking about what inspired her to come up with her topic, Alice Simões, who wrote “Sport Symphony”, noted: “We [the students] were encouraged to write about something personal to us, and I never really shared my injury journey with anyone, not even my coach. So, I took this as an opportunity to be more open and as a thank you to my coach”.

Simões added that she had always enjoyed writing, but had not had the experience of having her work published before, which was very intimidating, but has since shed her fear and feels that the activity opened more opportunities to try again.

Moreover, Elnora Fontanilla, who wrote “Living Away From Home”, pointed out that she has lived away from the Philippines for “quite a long time”, with her background leading her to decide on writing a “very personal” essay that talks a little bit about her journey beyond just her experiences as an international student. 

Fontanilla added that although writing is something that she loves to do, it is a struggle for her, but with the proper guidance and after seeing her article published, she said: “This is something that I would like to invest in and continue doing. I find that writing is also a great way to reach out to people”.

A student named Jana Quejano, who has submitted an article for future publication, also enjoyed being able to write while noting that it was a fun experience, adding that the activity encouraged her to write more and gained inspiration.

From rest to giving up one’s seat on the bus

Peter Nyi Nyi Aung, who penned “Can Money Truly Buy Rest?”, noted that given the topic he chose, which he said might be controversial, made him both nervous and excited about submitting his essay. “The current environment demands people prioritise financial security among other aspects of human life. I think it is not only important to make money all the time, but we also have to take care of ourselves”, leading to his topic. Although it is only his first article, Aung said that he liked to write, especially thought-provoking articles, and was encouraged to write more in the future. 

Neri, meanwhile, explored human beings’ search for happiness through his essay, “Looking for True Happiness”, where he pointed out that he wanted to try to let others know how they can try to find true happiness within themselves. Like Aung, Neri felt nervous about making a submission, but upon seeing his article in print and hearing how some of his friends liked his work, he felt happy and considers writing more in the future.

Sharing the same joy as Neri in seeing his work in print, Henry Saw Min Khaung Htet, said that he felt encouraged to write more after submitting his work, “Back to Uni as a Mature Student”, which talked about his experiences in going back to university, the challenges and what inspires him to keep going.

Moreover, Xaverio Boe Bo’s “Living on the 6th floor in Macau” delved into his experience of coming from Myanmar to suddenly arriving in Macau, adjusting to the city’s living standards, buildings and the new environment, noting that this was an experience that he really wanted to talk about. “I’m not really good at writing, but this kind of activity kind of encouraged me to work hard”, and to take part in activities outside of school, which he said was very good for students and encourages them to do more. 

Kuok On Ho, who wrote “Why You Should Not Give Up Your Seat on the Bus”, noted that he usually gets inspiration from daily life experiences, “especially something that I think is ridiculous at the moment”, he said, adding that when he sees behaviour that might not be rational, he tries to think about whether it is right or wrong, which he explored in his essay. 

The students pointed out that they overall were happy to see their work published, all of whom emphasised that they were grateful to have their professor work with and guide them, as well as offer encouragement and resources to them all throughout the time that they were writing.

Professor Jason Chan (first row, centre) poses with his students on the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) campus in Ilha Verde district last week. – Photo: Rui Pastorin

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