About Kathleen Ahrens
Kathleen Ahrens was born in the suburbs of New York City and aspired to be an astronaut and to live in a skyscraper. Poor eyesight led her to forgo the first dream, but her move to Hong Kong allowed her to finally fulfill the second.
As a child, she read constantly — often in very dim lighting — leading to her poor eyesight, and she could often be found with a book in one hand and a dictionary in another, now clear precursors of her love of both literature and language. Her favorite subject in high school was Latin, but her aptitude in math led her to enter UMASS/Amherst as a computer science major, later switching to a degree in Oriental Languages after she grew bored writing computer programs that mimicked war scenarios.
While in college, she spent a year abroad in Taiwan, teaching English and studying Mandarin Chinese. After graduation, she returned to Taiwan to teach English and to study for her Master’s Degree in Chinese at National Taiwan University. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in Linguistics from UC San Diego and returned to Taiwan to teach in the Foreign Language Department at National Taiwan University.
During this period, she was invited to write short stories for secondary school textbooks and she found that she enjoyed creative writing immensely. She has since has taken part in a number of leadership roles in the field. In 2001 she founded the Taiwan region for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She was later invited to be a member of the Board of Advisors and the Chairperson for all international regions in SCBWI in 2008. She also served as the Director of the International Writers Workshop at HKBU from 2012 to 2017 and as the Programme Director for International Poetry Nights Hong Kong in 2013. In 2012, Sun-Ya Press in Hong Kong published two of her co-authored bilingual picture books, “Ears Hear” and “Numbers Do.”
Kathleen is now a professor in the Department of English at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where she teaches linguistics and creative writing. She is also is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Humanities, and lectures around the world on her linguistic research in conceptual metaphor theory, as well as on creative writing, picture book evaluation, and the use of children’s literature in language teaching.
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