By Foo Ming Li
Writing and sending letters to our loved ones, pen pals, acquaintances or peers residing overseas is a tedious process as the letter might take a few weeks to arrive at their doorstep. With the help of instant messaging applications and emails, the messages today can be interacted and exchanged quite rapidly.
Han Chiang University College of Communication (HCUC) Year 1 Semester 1 student, Kim Rui Yu from Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Chinese Studies has won third place for her essay titled “From Home Letters to WeChat”. Participating under the college category, she wrote for the “My love, my connection between China and Malaysia” essay competition.
She decided to participate in the essay writing competition because she has never participated in a major competition before, hence, she capitalised on this opportunity to gain new experiences.
When Kim was contemplating writing an interesting essay for the competition, she was inspired by the background story of her grandparents’ historical roots who originated from Fujian, China. She was told that her grandfather used to write letters to her grandmother and aunt back in China.
“When my grandfather arrived in Penang by boat in 1946, he continuously wrote letters to my grandmother about his life in Penang. Along with the letter, some money was sent to her and my aunt. 10 years later, my grandmother and aunt migrated from China to Penang to start a fresh new life with my grandfather,” she explained the inception of letter writing practices between her grandparents.
In contrast, the digital world of today with the aid of internet connectivity may be able to do more than sending messages through instant messaging apps like WeChat and WhatsApp.
“For example, there are many features in WeChat that can be used instantaneously such as audio or video calls to friends and family. More than that, the technology is even supporting the functions of monetary transactions using WeChat Pay, available in the app itself,” she adds.
After winning third place in the college category of the “My love, my connection between China and Malaysia” essay writing competition, she was taken aback as her primary goal was to merely experience participating in a large competition.
The competition was held to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the 46th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia, and the 5th anniversary of the establishment of the Consulate General of China in Penang. The essay writing competition was organised by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Penang, Sin Chew Daily, Guang Ming Daily, China Press, and Nanyang Siang Pau.
It was opened to high school, university and college students, as well as the public. The competition requires the contestants to write an essay on various topics between China and Malaysia such as food, education, culture and arts, film and television productions; memories, expectations of China or participant’s hopes between the two countries; or describe the interactions between China and Malaysia on families, organisations, and individuals.