An English Writing Seminar was held on 22 March 2006 by Professor King-Fai Tam and his son, David Chapman Tam. Professor Tam is an associate professor of Modern Languages and International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA. David is a seventh grader at Foote School in New Haven, Connecticut, USA and aspires to be a journalist. Professor Tam and David write a weekly column together, entitled "Notes from New England", which appears every Monday on the English page of Ming Pao, discussing the various aspects of life in the northeastern part of the United States.
They shared their writing experiences with the Form One to Three students who attended the seminar. They introduced the idea of writing as a record of one's experiences and of making sense of these experiences. Moreover, our experiences could be divided into 'immediate experiences' that happen directly to us and 'indirect experiences', which are things that do not happen to us directly but still greatly affect our lives and thoughts. As students and teachers, our immediate experiences will mostly be related to school, family and social life, at the same time, we also experience many things indirectly through books, newspapers, television, conversations we overhear and so on. Yet, sometimes we might find our lives too dull or unremarkable to write about or we might not have enough information about certain big events that indirectly affect us, such as the Iraq War or avian flu.
To solve this problem of having nothing to write about, our speakers suggested 'writing from the heart' to make sense of and reflect upon our personal experiences. As for our indirect experiences, we should learn to cultivate a curious mind towards everything that happens around us and to do research on these topics.
To further illustrate how to 'write from the heart', Professor Tam and David read aloud an article that they wrote for their column at Christmas time. Though, nothing remarkable happened to them during Christmas, both father and son were able to write an interesting, heartfelt article simply by reflecting on how they felt and what they observed around them at the time, simply by 'writing from the heart'.