Dear Poet,


I heard the good news from your aunt on the way to work the day before Teacher’s Day. She was proud of you, and of course I am no less proud, Poet.

pen and paper 03 

What you have achieved so far on the journey is proof that you have not wasted the college years. You have taken advantage of what is available and made the best of it. This is an attitude most successful people carry. Stick with the positive outlook and fight on.


I checked my email box the day after Teacher’s Day and found your message there. Thanks for your greetings. Through the technology we can still be in touch with each other though we are in different locations. I received the photos that you took while you were staying in Venice, Italy. I love them and they are still in my email box.


The English used in your email messages has been getting better. The latest message reads well. It sparkles with idioms and collocations. Your progress must have resulted from your hard work and from exposure to varieties of English found in the real world. Please continue to learn from the world as well as from books.


The internship that you will go and accomplish in the UK has been coveted by your contemporaries. Your excellence both in character and abilities has helped you outshine them. I have no clear idea what the interviews were like. But I bet your confidence and your ability to talk in English must have impressed the interviewers. I remember the evening you spoke with me on the mike for a few minutes. You were already good then. And you are much better, I dare say. By the time your internship is completed in the UK, your English will be of high calibre.


Not everyone has an opportunity to go and experience a different culture. You are wise to know what to do when you are there. I would like to highlight a point. This stay will enable you to be immersed in British society. It is more than an opportunity to learn English. Rather it is an opportunity to observe their ways of being and reflect upon our own. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are ours? Should we Chinese learn from them? Should they learn from us? Similar questions should give you a balanced picture of them and us. I don’t think you will be lost on that land. At the end of the day, we should come to realise that we live not only for our OWN nation but also for all humanity. Human experiences – love and hate, affluence and poverty, greed and generosity, for example – are universal.


Be confident, and be modest as well. Do not let your confidence be killed by those negative guys in this world. Around us, we do have such people. They are always whining. In their eyes, everything is wrong and nothing is right. They try to weigh you down with their sick mentality. Let them complain and do not subscribe to their ideas. One should realise that his potential is there and is to be tapped. Grumbling does not help him get anywhere. Your success has proved it. Where was your primary school? Where was your high school? Where was your university? And where are you going? Believe in yourself and fight on!


Every day is a day for work and reflection and self-improvement wherever we are. Heaven is not in Tsinghua or Beida. It is not up there in the sky, either. It is right where we are. We create heaven. Work hard with your experience, knowledge, and creativity. When you have a moment of leisure, reflect upon your day. Did I progress? Did I err? Where should I do better next time? When we learn and improve ourselves every moment, we are HEAVEN.


Thanks again for frequenting my blog. This little personal space has grown a lot in the past two years. A simple attempt at blogging has made a big difference to my English studies. I did not have an idea what role the blog might play until one day a message came from one of my epals. He took it seriously. His constructive comments gave me a fresh perspective on the role it is playing. Although I prepare the entries in my spare time (I do not stray from work in the office hours), I try to be meticulous about the process. After I write an entry, I do not hasten to post it as I did in the beginning days of the blog. I read it a number of times before publishing it on the Web. While re-reading an entry, I spot errors, inconsistencies, and oversights that managed to creep into it despite the care I took with the first draft. Each reading sees improvement in some way. The final draft materialises when I can shine it no more. What I do with an entry before publishing is called revising, which I learned when I was reading some American and British manuals on the craft of writing. In a sense, Shengliver’s Garden has changed the writer more than it has done the reader. I will keep up the blogging effort in the years to come. I hope it will have some positive influence.


I am writing the letter on my laptop in my study at home this moment. 45 minutes ago I did my daily talking. Dinner is almost ready. I have to close this letter, Poet. Good luck in the UK. And do keep in touch and send in your messages. I may not answer all the mail but I will read everything you write on the Web.


Enjoy your adventure.


Yours truly,




If you like, get The Little Oxford Dictionary and carry it along. It is published by FLTRP in Beijing, China, in collaboration with OUP, UK. It is monolingual and handy.


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