How do you keep yourself busy these days?

I enjoy traveling, so I went sightseeing in Europe, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. I also still give lectures at universities around the world. I also enjoy seeing old movies and operas and watching plays.

What are your initial memories of the Department of Asian Studies?

When I first came to teach at UBC, Asian Studies was in Buchanan, and I enjoyed it because I could see the mountains and ocean. After this building was built, we moved to the building we’re currently in. After the move, we sank down (laughs). But the surrounding of this building is beautiful, I do love it.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the next 50 years for the Asian Studies Department?

My hope is that someone could teach ci poetry again which is more like song lyrics, but can have very deep yet subtle meaning. Most scholars in North America are only interested in shi poetry. That is because most of the Westerners have difficulty understanding ci poetry, thus it is difficult to find a teacher. One of my former studentsJerry Schmidt teaches shi poetry only at UBC currently.

You were recently awarded an honour by the Chinese State Council for your contributions to Chinese literature by Premier Wen JiaBao. Tell us about that:

In Canada, I have been a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 1989. In China, I have been given an honorary title as a research fellow of the Institute of Literature and History since last June. I am the only foreigner who has this honorary title. That is because I have been teaching at Nankai University for more than thirty years.