Meet the Killester Team – Mr. Lam

This week we’d like you to get to know Mr. Lam, our devoted ICT and Media Teacher, a bit better. Here’s his full interview: 

We all have a favourite book that we come back to time and time again, what’s yours and what do you love about it?

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys when I need reminding to cherish what I have. My second would have to be Way Station by Clifford Simak because it managed to make the universe seem immense and small at the same time. It’s just a quiet little story that is full of hope to relax with.

What was your favourite subject at school and why?

It was Art before I discovered computers and film. I understood Maths, but alas, it did not understand me.

When you were growing up what did you want to be?

Nothing clear, but being an immigrant kid, I wasn’t aware of the possibilities at the time. I did aspire to make my mother proud and make enough money to take care of her.

What was your first paying job?

At thirteen, I got an after school job at a restaurant in Springvale. The first thing they got me to do was chop a basket of chilli. I can still remember the chilli acid burning for days under my fingernails. I got paid 16 dollars for the night and I did not return the next day.

What was your worst job and what did you learn from it?

You would think cutting chilli was the worst job, but there were many others worse than that. The worst was working on the farm when I was at University during the summer holidays. Under the 35 degrees sun, I learned that a 65-year-old grandmother was tougher than I was and I wasn’t cut out for manual labour.

What’s the best concert you’ve been to?

I’ve been to three Bob Dylan concerts. I did not understand a word he was singing and it sounded like he sang the same song for two hours and it was absolutely mesmerising. Because it’s Dylan – the only songwriter to win the Nobel prize for literature.

What would your ‘spirit-animal’ be and why?

My name in Chinese means Dragon. When I was born, my mother got a soothsayer (that’s right, my mum believed in voodoo) to critique my name and birth signs. He concluded that I would have a lot of trouble with water, so he added a ‘wood’ character next to the ‘dragon’. So my spirit animal is a dragon, clutching a log of wood, drifting in the ocean, trying not to drown. On a side note, I did have a lot of trouble with water, but that’s another story.

Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?

I can do the moonwalk, but going forward, otherwise known as walking.

Which historical figure would you like to meet and why?

I would love to meet Franz Kafka, just to get a sense of how weird he was and then have tea with Laozi to calm down.

What are the three items you would take with you on a desert island?

My guitar, because on a desert island no one can hear you sing. The Brothers Karamazov because it’s one of those books that you lie to people for having read, to sound smart. Maybe with nothing better to do, I’ll actually read it. If I can cheat a little, I’ll also take the complete collection of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I would happily escape to Pratchett’s universe to pass the time. Maybe even then, I’ll still be pretending to be reading The Brothers Karamazov, but is actually reading Terry Pratchett.

Have you met anyone famous?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, when my son won the cup stacking competition he was sponsoring. We shook hands, he congratulated Rui. I drooled a little because it’s Arnold! He was smaller than I imagined, but I imagined him being a giant.

What is the favourite part of your job?

It has to be interacting with students, if it isn’t, you shouldn’t be teaching.

What motivates you at work?

Students are a work in progress, they are full of potential and once in a while, you get to play a part in uncovering that potential. The feeling you get is all the motivation one needs.

What is your favourite thing about Killester?

Our enthusiastic students and dedicated staff, what else?

If you had advice/words of wisdom for our girls what would it be?

Be conscious of time, it is precious.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the Killester community?

Did you know that Stephen Hawking was buried between Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton? How cool is that?