Renie Leng, English Teacher
What is your happy space?
In the past, it’s this small little beach near my childhood home that eroded away but has since been restored in Penang, but lately, it’s a rainforest bath on my Saturday morning hikes on the quiet bike trails of Bukit Kiara.
Tell us a less-known fact about you.
I spent an invigorating summer doing a creative writing course at the University of Hawaii many years ago and truly fell in love with the rigours and craft of writing as well as the hiking trails.
How and why did you get into the teaching profession?
Both my parents are retired educators so growing up, I never thought about it as a career. I wanted to work as a museum curator or become a journalist! I worked for an airline in guest relations, I was a private banker with a Singapore bank with my own office, and I fell into teaching when I was doing my Masters in Literature and thought I would have more time to write. Boy, was I wrong but I have come to love and respect the profession and the gratification it brings. I can’t imagine doing anything else!
What is your favourite activity/project at GIS?
One of the projects closest to my heart would be the poetry anthology for 14 years- mentoring students in poetry writing, editing, publishing, designing the anthology and organising the poetry evening. I love how GIS students are so creative, and are passionate about writing. This year, I am working on a Discovery Week anthology, with more travel writing involved. The creative writing CCA -which I started in 2000 with only two students, had one kid who thought we were working on fancy fonts! That’s such a hilarious and fond memory! (No pun intended, and sorry, that’s 3 favourite activities)
What is the greatest thing of being a teacher?
The students from my early years here still keep in touch- they take me to nice pub meals in London, invite me to their weddings, show me their babies’ photos, share with me their career goals, aspirations & frustrations, have come to my house for ‘makan’ and I am very proud of every single one of them. The ones I have had to discipline the most, are the ones who come back for frequent visits and hugs! Through the years, I may not remember which classes they were in, especially the ones in the years in between, but when you meet them on the street and they say hello and wish you well, it’s the sweetest feeling in the world! And reading some of my students’ writing gives me goosebumps as they are so brilliant!
Describe GIS in three words.
A dizzying cornucopia!
What do you do in your leisure time?
As a full-time teacher, and proud mother of three, every second is precious. I write a lot of poetry on my iphone & notebooks; I try to read for leisure- mostly poetry and some fiction, which for an English teacher can be such a treat as we read so much for work; I always try to make time for family and friends by entertaining at home. I am working on two manuscripts of poetry. I recently made a plant terrarium which I’m very proud of; I also write articles for some magazines like Harper’s Bazaar on travel and design, having maintained a magazine column some years back.
I wish…for people to be kind to each other all the time.