• Junto HKIS

Feature a Teacher: Mr. Zen

Adit Gorawara

November 14th, 2021


Let’s start by getting to know Mr. Leo Tseng - that's Mr. Zen’s real name. Although we know it as Mr. Zen, we should know that his family name is Tseng, but once his parents emigrated to Hawaii, “their name was anglicized. The immigration officer heard ‘Zen’ and spelled it as ‘Z-e-n’”. Knowing that he wanted to be a teacher, Mr. Zen kept the same last name because it was “easy to pronounce, and it was easy to read.”


Mr. Zen was born and raised in Hawaii and lived there throughout his childhood. He attended the University of Hawaii and only left the United States after graduation. He came to Hong Kong for a summer teaching program and during his visit, he remarked that he ”fell in love with Hong Kong, the city and the students here.”


Mr. Zen's teaching career began in Hawaii, where he taught for three years. At the time, he thought that if he were to move to another city, “it would definitely be Hong Kong.” The opportunity arose nine years ago and since then he has been teaching in Hong Kong. His twelve years of teaching have all been at public schools, and teaching at an international school is a new experience for him.


Mr. Zen studied English at University and noted, “I knew I wanted to teach English, I think it was the summer program I did in Hong Kong. Also because I was very interested in literature growing up, I loved reading, I loved stories, I loved narratives and I liked writing a lot.” Moreover, from his experience at the summer program, he learned that in general, he enjoyed teaching, working with students, talking in front of people etc.


While Mr. Zen said he was somewhat nervous about teaching Humanities since he had never formally taught a History course, he was still very “happy to get the job”. He admitted that "This opportunity will be a new experience for me as I am still learning how to integrate both (history and English)”. He relishes the opportunity to teach history, as all of these things on the historical side are things he wishes he could’ve learned more about, so he “almost feels like a student again”.


Mr. Zen commented on the “beautiful campus” of HKIS, and sometimes, has to pinch himself when he’s walking around this campus! Every morning, Mr. Zen reminds himself that “it feels good” to work at HKIS. He often walks around the campus just to embrace the enviable location and wonderful scenery. Mr. Zen is very appreciative and grateful for some of the simplest things, like the view in the Humanities office looking into the reservoir - a major difference from the view in his old school, located at Mong Kok. He sincerely feels “blessed” to get the job and wants to express his gratitude towards everyone for their kind welcoming to the school. So far, Mr. Zen is “liking everything” that he sees.


We would like to wish Mr. Zen all the best for his journey at HKIS. Mr. Zen, we hope this journey through HKIS is a fun and fulfilling one for you!