In Class: 9 Poems, 3 Stories & 1 Article about School Life & Education by Young Asian Writers (Asian Voices)

These poems and stories about education and school were originally posted on the AsianVoices Website (1997-2006), a site I created that featured poetry and fiction by young Asian writers. I’m now in the process of uploading an archived version of the works that had been published.


Pitter-patter rain, again
I hear him drizzle, I fizzle out, out
This learning? Droning, moaning
I feel a scream, a shout, within, without.
Silence is no monotony,
Unlike this instructional agony.
A boring worm lives better, better
And when it rains; is wetter, wetter
This rain, this pain, this pitter-patter
I Wish this tutor was a bit, ‘errr…better.

~Mohammad Said bin Rahim (Singapore)


A Limerick

I sit in here thinking and thinking
And dreaming that I am out drinking
In lecture room three
He’s torturing me
My heart, it is sinking and shrinking

~Kitty Yip (Hong Kong)



A dreaming student.
I sit in front of the screen,
with nothing to say.

~Parkin Woo (Hong Kong)


English is…

English is a thief; it steals my life.
English can make my tongue twist into a knot.
English is a hard rock; we must break through it.

English is a symphony, so marvellous.
English is an art.
English is a slice of bread I eat every day.

English is a hunter; it kills many students.
English is very, very troublesome.
English is A for apple, B for boy and C for cat.

English is trying your best.
English is a never-ending game.
English is a bowl of herbal tea.

English is a very big cake; we must eat it bit by bit.
English is tests and quizzes.
English is money, people should have some.

~Gigi Wong (Hong Kong)


Crying is Such Sweet Sorrow

Beautiful Ms Swift’s voice
her turquoise eyes
her smile so tender.

She has always made me cry
Cries that I enjoy, will always treasure,
Cries for exquisite beauty quivering
of the soul the most fundamental of
human feelings,
Yet so precious in this world.

Ah, we are to part
Teacher and student.
Though the distance cannot come between us
Allow me to cry once more,
And sweetness is this.

~ by Belle Ho (Hong Kong). She writes: “Ms Swift has been my English Literature teacher since I was a secondary four student. Now I’ve completed my A-level exam and am going to enter university. I wrote this poem because Ms Swift is not going to teach in Hong Kong anymore soon. She has been the dearest teacher to me so far in my life. She taught me literature, and is the first to have touched me so deeply—simple words or glances from her may move me to tears. Beauty always moves people to tears.”




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~Kitty Chong (Hong Kong)


Just Come to Our Class


If you want to go to a noisy room,
If you want to meet lazy students,
Just come to our class,
And enjoy the booms.

There’s our monitor, who’s standing on his chair,
And our monitress, who’s carefully brushing her hair.
There are students always sleeping,
And there are students always running,

So come to our class.
Don’t worry, for there’s no one unhappy

~Ming Sin-yee, Pang Nga-lee and Law Wing-wah (Class 1E)



If you want to meet friendly students,
If you want to drink with us,
Just come down to our class
And bring along some cups.

It’s the funniest class
In the whole of our school.
There are girls playing,
And boys singing.

There’s Sam, who’s always fighting,
And Paul, who’s always eating.
There’s Alan, who thinks he is flying,
And Ben, who plays with ink.

So come to our class.
You’ll just want to scream,
For there’s never a dull moment.
Won’t you join our team?

~Wong Sam-lap and Chung Tsz-hei (Class 1E)


If you want to meet students
Who are only good at games,
Just come to our class
And wait and ask the names.

It’s the naughtiest class
In the whole of our school
There’s windows always slamming
And students always fighting.

There’s Ha, who’s always laughing,
And Ting, who’s always talking.
There’s Man, who’s always shouting,
And Yin, who’s only looking.

So come to our class.
You don’t need the names.
You’ll hear the loud noise
Telling that it’s us again!

~Cheung Kit-ying (Class 1C)


These poems were written three years earlier in Zita Yu’s English class in Tin Ka Ping Secondary School in Fanling, Hong Kong. Zita has written the following poem about her first day at school:

First Day at School

Will you wait for me here, Grandma?
From the classroom you can get a little chair.
Why are you going away?
You’ve promised to stay!

“Waa Waa Waa” I go
That stops the singing of the other three-year-olds.
In her gentle arms the teacher holds
This panicking little devil.

Her soft, sweet voice,
Her comforting words,
Made this day less painful,
Sets the future teacher a good example.

~Zita Yu (Hong Kong)


The Paper Chase

generation of anger
of all assets, animals
loves and hates ritual
but tamatgotchi the toy
a fragile egg. a feign chick
click, click, feed, feed
feeds and forgets face
the paper chase
divides the soul chaste
nature screams at lecturer.
We get out of pressure
and seek natural pleasure;

parents disapproval
and many barriers
choke our pleasure
sparkles above
but buckles’ condemnations
water pouring down from the nations
Can’t stop exploding
our inner

In the gogglebox’s censure
power is riddle
on the paper,
we chase correctly
we may chase blindly
the final happiness may be
a           jacket          covers
tamatgochi       and        our
on     a      sheet      of      paper
a piece of paper
that we fear
barely standable
after graduation–
X-ers’s xenophobia
becomes a dragon
to eat us up and our future

~Kucinta Setia (Singapore)

Commenting on his poem, Kucinta writes, “Our undergraduates are overwhlemed by the language of success and pressure. We risk losing our sense of future direction by misappropriating interest.”


Treadmill Bounce

      The sun cuts arcs across the tops of the hills at the end of the day. Checkerboard shadows of window panels stretch out over the grey floor tiles, rising up over his shins, up to his waist as he watches from the stairwell. The top windows bring the blind to his eyes. Wincing a little he watches below him, a group, mostly his students, playing with enthusiasm. The sides of the building, tiered like a dirty concrete cake, drop in steps down three sides of the court. One of the sides he is standing in, five floors up, gazing. The green clay, slashed with white and red lines, clashes with the bleakness of the college floors; of the buildings beyond the open end of the square. The Hopewell Centre protrudes in the background like a naff Doctor Who set. The cheers and halloos and guffawing banter contrast with the grumbles and moans, whispers and snores of five dozen classrooms at the end of the day.

      The end is nigh on, the last class is about to finish and tired souls, teachers and students, are glad that they can give up and go home. But down there the basketballers run, dodge, weave, barge, cry foul, laugh, shoot and celebrate. They’ll play sweat and shout til the lights have gone out and the ball passes unseen hands, eyes strain, time to go home; or find another court.

      At ground level, the inner city gloom has set in an hour before twilight starts. A few backs can be seen leaning over the first and second floor terraces. Encouraging laughter, a few calls and jeers, rise up.

      On his way out from his last lesson, he stopped on the stairs to watch his students play. Two final hours out of six in the classroom today. A tired couple of hours. Last night’s exuberance making this morning’s weariness. By afternoon, head clear but body flagging. Two hours with day-release construction students is a hard thing to drag through, specially when you believe that bounce makes the lesson so much more fun.

Continue reading Treadmill Bounce by Andrew Doig (Hong Kong, Scotland)


The People Who Must Walk On their Hands

“Education makes a greater difference between man and man,
than nature has made between man and brute.”
John Adams

“By nature all men are alike, but by education wildly different.” Chinese Proverb

In the Harbourview Room of the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, my eyes roam photographs taken in China’s smallest province, Ning Xia. Beside me at the display board is an immaculately dressed Chinese man with little more height than my own five-foot-two. I am correct in my guess that he was born in China rather than Hong Kong. He points to a picture.

“I too, went to school in such a place.” He nods as if to say, “Can you believe that?”

I return his nod. “So did I,” I reply. “Only the coal was in buckets instead of piled in the corner.” His gaze questions me. “It’s true,” I assure him.

“How is this so?” He is genuinely puzzled.

Continue reading The People Who Must Walk On Their Hands by B.J. McLean

Memories of Primary One

One fine day. With tender breeze and a sunshine, it was a perfect day to have a walk. The stony road leads to the school where I had spent one year of my childhood. Small mountains covered with trees embrace the school.

It has been such a long time. I have not been here since I was six years old. In my memory, there was a very beautiful garden with different colors of flowers and plants. I could hear the melodious songs of birds and smell the sweet scent of fresh grass. I often imagined that it was the scene of heaven when I was small. Only in my dreams I added a mountain spring to the scene.

Continue reading Memories of Primary One by Doris Cheung Yim (Hong Kong)


Read and Thou Shalt Receive

The teaching profession has been on the defensive ever since the results of the language benchmark test were released. Parents, students and public alike are quick to lay at the teachers’ door the whole blame for the plummeting language standards of HK students.

Why our society likes to view teachers as the lynch pin is a curious question. Were these teachers not once students like ourselves, who >suffered the very same educational process the current generation is going through? Should this not suggest that something is amiss with the way we learn?

As our society hastens its pace to keep up with the modern age, a wide array of high-tech gadgets, such as computers, cell phones, and DVDs, have been invented, in the name of electronic media, to assist and hurry students into taking in information as quickly as possible. With a flick of a switch, or a press of the mouse, a stream of pre-processed images and data are ready to be uploaded to the minds of schoolchildren. No communication is necessary; no thought process required. Beep! Data zip-driven into their cranial storage. They do not even need to stir—except maybe to click the screen away. In a society where time is money, pupils would love nothing more than copying and pasting data onto megabytes of brain cells.

Reading, on the other hand, initiates an intimate discourse between the author and the reader.

Continue reading Read and Thou Shalt Receive: Essay by Julie Lai


AsianVoices Archives: These poems and stories were originally posted on the now-defunct AsianVoices website (1997-2007), which featured poetry and fiction by young Asian writers. Copyright belongs to the original authors. If you are the writer and would like to remove, add or edit this work, please contact me at and I will promptly carry out your request.

Go to the main Asian Voices page

Poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction about family
Poems and stories about love and heartbreak
Edible Words
Delicious poems and stories in celebration of food
Poetry and prose about death and remembrance
The Journey
Poems and stories about innocence and experience
Poems and stories about self-reflection and spirituality
In Class
Poems, stories and articles about school life and education
In Transit
Poems about travel and transportation
Poems and articles about places
Poems, stories and drama about the creative process
Poetry, prose and drama about everyday life
Kids’ Corner
Poems and stories by and/or for younger readers


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