Apart from spending time remembering names and making detailed notes, Wu also makes an effort to look the part. On the day he spoke to Varsity, he was wearing a typical outfit for work, which includes a nicely fitted blazer, a shirt with a tie and, he deliberately points out, “a pair of red socks.”
He says his attire is one way he shows his respect for his profession. “I find that students evaluate teachers on how they look, so I try to look my best,” Wu says.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed – he was shortlisted as one of the finalists for the university’s Teaching Excellence Award two to three years ago.
Wu’s dedication to his job and to his students extends outside the classroom. Apart from teaching, he has also been assigned to be in charge of student affairs, which includes organising internship and exchange programmes for the entire English Department.
This involves a lot of mundane administrative work but Wu thinks it worthwhile because he benefited greatly from overseas experience when he was a student.
He remembers how his semester as an exchange student in Canada and a short-term English education programme he did in Australia gave him an edge over other job-seekers when he first came to Hong Kong.
“Students with such overseas experience can ask for 10 to 15 per cent higher than the average fresh graduates,” Wu says.
Wu says his 15 seconds of fame after winning the Amazing Race Asia has helped him a lot. “I think it’s been so meaningful and blessed to use my Amazing Race experience to enhance students’ learning through my media contacts.
Given Wu’s devotion to his students both inside and outside of the classroom, it is hard to see how he manages to make time for himself. He highlights the importance of balance. “Once it [work] starts affecting your personal life, then you need to pull yourself away.”
During his leisure time, Wu enjoys going to the movies. “But I never, ever go to watch a movie on my own.” Wu finds it “pointless” if there is no one to share the joy and experience with. As a result, he never drinks alone, dines alone, or travels alone. But he prefers more intimate settings of four to six people, where he can talk to everyone properly, to large crowds.
Having lived in Hong Kong for almost 10 years, Wu has made plenty of local friends, with whom he practises his Cantonese. “I don’t speak Cantonese very well but I am not the kind of foreigner who comes in and feels like I don’t need to learn any Cantonese,” Wu says. He believes that in order to get the most out of the local culture, he needs to learn the language.