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St Mary's #teachereffect: Mrs Wenyan Lu

When did you start at St Mary’s?

I started at St Mary's in September 2020.

What did you do before you joined? (i.e. how long have you been in teaching/short bio etc.)

I have been a teacher of English as a second/foreign language and Mandarin Chinese for many years, both in China and in the UK. I also have experience of working in radio while in China.

Were you always interested in teaching? What fuelled that interest?

Yes, I was always interested in teaching. I had two amazing English teachers when I was at secondary school – I enjoyed learning so much, so I wanted to be just like my teachers!

What have been your highlights of working at St Mary’s?

There are too many highlights of working at St Mary's! I enjoy the atmosphere in the classroom – our girls are so talented, hard-working and well-behaved. My happiest moments are when they make progress and have more confidence, and the trust between us often touches me.

Why do you enjoy teaching?

I enjoy teaching because it is not just about teaching knowledge, it is also an opportunity to encourage young people to discover themselves and to meet their full potential. I believe in young people and I hope that we will have a bright future because of them.

What do you like to do in your free time when you are not teaching?

I love writing, reading and cooking. I also enjoy knitting. I love Leonard Cohen's songs, and I listen to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata every night!

You have recently won a prestigious award – the SI Leeds Literary Prize – when did you start writing, and how long did it take you to write your novel The Funeral Cryer? Have you written any other stories?

I enjoyed writing from a young age. However, I started writing novels about ten years ago. It took me about 10 months to write The Funeral Cryer. I have two other completed novels, one of which was longlisted for the Leeds Literary Prize in 2018 and Bridport First Novel Prize 2019.

What do you enjoy about writing?

When I am writing, I feel I am free in my own world and I can hear my own voice. I would like my voice to be heard through the narrative of my protagonists, expressing my thoughts and opinions of the world.

How did you feel when you won?

I was very excited when I won, but I felt more grateful than anything else. I also felt that creativity was strong and magic, and the fairness and equality which led to my winning was inspiring.

What advice do you have for all the students you have taught – past and present – to help them on their journey in life?

I would like to say – it's never too late to learn. The ability of learning could be a life-changing skill. I acquired a Master of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge in my early forties and the experience has boosted my confidence.