My image on Mr. Deli as a history teacher

I have known Mr. Deli for about three years. No doubt, he was a remarkable
history teacher and scholar.

As I remember, Mr. Deli was a responsible teacher with encouraging support to students, only not academically, but also psychologically. He took an active part in communicating with students and gave considerable support to students activities, both financially and practically.

His passing away is definitely a loss for history students, department, university and the field of history itself.

Adolf Ng
Chairman of History Society aahkusu (1997 - 98)


This is the most difficult assignment I have ever been given. I cannot begin
to express how I feel at this very moment. Peter Deli was so much more to me than just a teacher, educator or professor, he was my friend. From the moment I entered his class he set out to impart on me his life experience, not his judgements, or his system of beliefs, just his thoughts on life. Yes, as a professor one is supposed to teach and that was exactly what he did. But, it was the way he taught that made him so special. He shared stories, talked of his son, his friends and his wife and how they related to the subject at hand. And the joy he had in doing it was awe-inspiring.

Peter Deli was one of the least organized men I have ever met. He would arrive at class, files in hand, notes strewn about on a desk, sometimes not even knowing where he had left off in his previous lecture. The reason for all of this was simple, he didn't want to be bound by notes or a lesson plan, they were just there to act as a framework. His mind worked feverishly and I remember more than once he anticipated my reaction to one of his statements before he even had the chance to complete his sentence. He just knew that I would counter his point, ask a question or for a clarification, and he knew this just by looking at the expression on my face. He knew me for less than a year, and yet I felt that with each student he attempted to gain an insight into our thoughts. For him there was nothing more interesting than learning what we thought about a subject, whether it was Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Marx or our opinion regarding a movie we had seen. Being an exchange student, learning in a new environment and attempting to get a glimpse into the minds of people from a different cultural background was fascinating for me, and doubly so for Mr. Deli. I could never get over the fact that I have never met a professor who was as interested in our perspectives on all aspects of life, not just academics, but life, as he was. He genuinely cared about our views, even with regards to a subject that he had covered a hundred times before. For me this was one of his most telling attributes.

The man must have been born on a tangent, because that is where he was at his best. It was his stories about France, May 1968 that were some of his most entertaining. He would talk of revolution and gage our reaction to subjects like civil disobedience, police brutality, anarchy, art and philosophy. He taught as if setting a scene, and attempted to cast the student in the role they felt most fit to play, while ensuring that we attempt to see the plot through the lens of one of our least likely allies. His passion for teaching and his students was boundless and it was this passion that most impressed me most.

I cannot begin to describe how I feel today, if only to say that I will never forget one of the most selfless, sincere, and kindhearted people I have ever encountered. Peter Deli inspired me to see the world, experience it with my eyes wide open and not be afraid to dive headlong into it. He made me embrace life and for that I will be eternally grateful.

He will be missed, but not forgotten.
Paul Ungerman


Hi Mr. Deli,

Like most Hong Kong people, I have been very much preoccupied with, and worn out by work in the past few years. Not until recently did it occur to me that I had been spending very little time on people I care about. This reminded me that it had been a long long while since I last contacted and talked with you.

I can still remember very clearly the first time I saw you: you are busy chatting with a large bunch of "female" students in the Main Building.Honestly, I was then very amazed that all these students looked so charmed by you, even though you were not the most handsome lecturer on campus. Your cartoon character is a perfect match of your "great eyes", long beard, curly hair and a sweet smile.

I finally got a chance of getting to know you better when you became my tutor in my Year 2 (1990 -1991). And this made me understand why you were always crowded by students. I was very impressed by your office desk and "user-friendly" style, which obviously was not widely shared among teaching staff. You were always willing and ready to discuss and to explore with students a wide range of issues, even those which seemed not the main focus of our syllabus, like red wine, French culture, Jazz music, Audrey Hepburn and so on. I did learn an awful lot from you. Nothing too shocking was that you and we, whole class of 1992, got on like a house on fire. We always had a great time at the parties you organized at your place. When the term ended, we just could not wait to tell you what a pleasure it had been with you. And we took gorgeous photos by making you look so funny !

After finishing my final examination, I travelled to Europe for almost 2 whole months. You may not know that without your support and encouragement, I would not have even considered the idea of having such a trip. And I must thank you for having shared with me your extremely intriguing travel experience, which no doubt helped make my own trip marvellous!!

In fact, I have always found you very inspiring and insightful. You once said that if you were responsible for organizing the university graduation ceremony, you would make it much more respectable. You thought that when the M.C. announced our graduation, it should be one of the most honourable moments in our life as we had spent a lot of time and effort to get there. Therefore, you believed that at the ceremony we deserve much more respect than the stupid 5-second-spot-light arrangement, which I could not agree more.
Sure, having known you is one of my most unforgettable things in my life. I cherish the moments I had with you. Thank you very much for all the knowledge, joy, and laughters that you have brought to my university life. Your lovely memory will always stay with me.

Daniel Lau
1992 Graduate


In memory of my respectable lecturer and friend, Dr. Deli

Your friendly smile and warm approach with students warmed our hearts.

What a good story-teller! I enjoyed being a little child, listening to your vivid stories about France and Germany. I liked going to your office for a chat, joking with you and listening to your comments about my assignments. It was always a wonderful experience! The big French posters in your office always reminded me of your passion and love for History.

I will stay as curious and adventurous about History as I was in the past!

With deep regret,
Your student,


It was not until the moment that Mr. Deli suddenly passed away that I really
perceived how much he meant to me. In my undergraduate life in HKU, I took all the courses offered by Mr Deli. He was very intelligent and erudite. He was so enthusiastic in teaching and history that he always wanted to teach us as much as he could. This made his lectures fabulous and full of surprises. He could get very excited when he was giving lectures. No one can forget his loud voice, beaming look, and his thirst for students' response in the tutorials and seminars. He always stimulated his students to talk and then gave them encouragement, which gradually built up their confidence.

What made Mr. Deli so popular and respectable was his love for students, which was by no means less important than his intelligence and knowledge. This is also the reason that I respect him even more. He cared about and supported his students because he regarded them as a major part of his life. He remembered names of his students and what they had said. Whenever he saw his students, he would warmly said hello to them. Even to those students that Mr Deli had not taught he smiled or greeted friendly. I believed that most of the students who always appeared in Main Building had got the chance to receive such warm smiles and greetings. His concern about students taught me how generous, benign and spacious a person's heart could be. I had once mentioned my personal problem to him not too long ago before he got sick. I could not believe that during the time he was under treatment in the hospital and remained sick and weak at home, he still asked me about it to see whether I had solved it or not. Should a person be so sympathetic when he was supposed to be egotistic? I remembered that Mr Deli had once said that even though he was not a Christian and he was not sure whether he would go to the heaven or hell, he was living a moral life. It was true that he possessed such a good soul that would enable him to enter the gate of heaven.

Mr. Deli, even though you have left us, your life can never be forgotten as you shined among us. I will remember what you taught me about history, ways of thinking, and above all, to forgive and to be considerate. By this time, I must bury our plan, discussion, wine, and meetings in your cosy office in my heart. Farewell!

Agnes Lin


When I heard the news about Mr. Deli's death, I was deeply saddened. I did not expect to hear it because I visited him few months before in the Queen's Mary hospital and he was still as talkative as usual although his voice was a little bit softer. Undoubtedly, Mr. Deli's death is not only a great lost to the History Department, but also to all his students.

I knew Mr. Deli when I was a year one student. As majoring in history, we were required to take the course "Introduction to the Western History" in which Mr. Deli gave four lectures. My first impression of him was his extraordinary loud voice. He had the loudest voice among all the lecturers I have met. However, since it was a big class and he was just one of the lecturers in the course, I did not know him much. It wasn't until I was a second year student and I took his courses on the twentieth-century European history that I became familiar with him.

During his lectures, I found that his knowledge was exceptionally wide. He taught from ancient Greek history and historiography to the twentieth-century history, as well as intellectual history such as Marxism, Russian intelligentsia and even Freud's psychoanalysis theory. Although the knowledge of a lecturer is of importance, his personality may be even more essential to his students. I believe none of his students would disagree that Mr. Deli was a nice lecturer. In fact, he was too kind to us. He would not be angry to those who came in late during his lecture; rather, he would immediately tell the student what he has said with patience. For those who only sat in his lectures, he not only welcomed them attending tutorials, but also let them give opinions. When finished marking our essays, he would not just return them back, but spend time in giving comments to us individually which was particularly helpful.

Since Mr. Deli was such a good lecturer, I did not hesitate to take all his three courses: the two on the history of twentieth century and the one on intellectual history, even though I could only take eight courses in History Department because of having double majors in history and music. Although he was demanding (once he required us to read three thick Russian novels for writing an essay), he gave us opportunity to learn more. It is gave amazing that after writing the essay, most of us in the class enjoy reading Russian novels.

Although we cannot see Mr. Deli anymore, his smile will always be in our minds. I remember once he said his aim was to open the gate for us to learn as wide and as much as possible. Now, I can tell you, Mr. Deli, you should not have any regret because we all learned a lot from you.

By: Edmond Tsang,
2000 graduate.


After the first year of my studies in HKU, I thought that I'd never like this
university, nor would I ever develop a sense of belonging here.

"Hello, Yan! How are you?" I could still hear your voice vividly echoing in the corridor of the Main Building, as I was standing in front of your office. Tears swamped my eyes. Although the door was locked, it could not stop the memories trapped inside of your office from unleashing.
Behind this very door, I could still hear you sharing with me all those fascinating stories about people you met in the youth hostels; about the anarchists and the young working class activists; about your exciting experience in the Mai 68, You carried with you the vivid memories of the 60s, the images of aspired young activists and their vitality. I could still see your lips curved upwards as you were recounting these funny stories. At times, you burst into laughter as these stories were reliving in your mind.
The sounds of Paris, the music of the "little sparrow" of France. I could still hear "Milord", "Mon Dieu", "La Vie en Rose" and your "Je ne regret rie rien" (Yes, this song should be yours.) I could see that you loved Paris a lot. "After your graduation, I can bring you two to a pleasant cafe in a rough area in Paris," you said in a gay voice, "But IÕll be in Germany when you two visit Paris this summer. Please send me postcards from Paris. Send it directly to the history department. I'll read them after I come back."
As promised, we did send you postcard from Paris. But it is still lying on your desk, locked behind your office door, unread.

You were lying in your sickbed, as you told me all the details on how sick you were during your stay in Europe. I was on the verge of tears. (But I had definite faith in you that you'd carry on until the last moment. And you had done a good job.) Your students were an important source of strength for you. Although you were not in the campus, you embraced us with love and care. I'll never forget how you helped writing me an excellent reference even when you were suffering from the illness. You could never imagine how I am touched by you. Thank you very much Mr. Deli. How blessed and honored we are to be the students of yours, for you did not only give us knowledge, but also touched our lives.

The memories that you gave me reminded me of the fact that I belong here!K It is you who brightened up my humdrum campus life and gave me a sense of belonging, which I thought I would never found in HKU. Thank you very much Mr. Deli. You are always in our hearts.

Third Year Student, Department of History


What makes me feel impressed is your smiling face and your gentle
manner either in the classroom or during leisure time. Your humorous character is another attraction to transform the original boring classroom into a live one.

One of the events I won't forget is the group lecture and photo in the "lotus pool" where we felt relaxed and how harmonious we are. It is so great to have the lecture held in such "open area". We really learnt too much from you as we just had all the lectures in classroom during the secondary schooling.

Peter, you are so charming and your beard is so sexy so that I cannot help touching whenever we meet. Sometimes, I would rather you were my father more than my lecturer. You are so naughty and were always embarrassing me in front of the class by making use of my love affair with one of my classmates. Thus, I like and dislike you simultaneously.

Another occasion was the cocktail party in Peter's home in 1992 when all who turned up enjoyed too much. We had been put to extreme joy by the delicious food, red wine, meaningful chat and especially the dancing performance near the end of the gathering. Although that was just a few hours, we had a feeling as if that is our house.

After we graduated, we never forget you. Daniel and I have been trying to organise a gathering with you and other classmates these years and perhaps this will be held in other format in future.

Peter, your spirit will stay alive in the heart of all of us. Peter - be good and we miss you!

Eric Mak
Feb 2001


"Wonderful" is the word I want to use to describe Mr. Deli's European
History lectures. As many people know, Mr. Deli was a man full of wit and humour that made all of his students enjoyed so much in the lectures. In my three years university life, Mr. Deli's course was the only one that I had 100% attendance even there was a 9:30 morning class once a week! I really miss the time that everybody laughed in the Main Building classroom. He made me know that a joyful learning atmosphere is very important. Now I am a teacher, I will continue Mr. Deli's spirit by enlightening my students with warmth and joy.

By Yip Wan Lan
Former student of Mr. Deli
(Class 1997-98, Europe Since First World War)


Deli, this is what people have told me:-

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was
smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you're the one who is smiling
and everyone around you is crying. Deli, I can see you are smiling at us now.
your student forever

Ka Lai Christy, Lee


I will always miss you - MR. DELI

It is my honour and pleasure to be your student. In 1991-92, I took your course on modern European history. I still remember clearly the moment of the first lecture. That day, I was late for some reasons. When I entered the lecture room. I saw you, a husky guy, talking about European history in an extremely rapid pace. Though I did not fully understand your words, I was deeply impressed by your sonorous voice and lively body language. Since then, I had been captivated by your vivid lectures. You created a harmonious ambience for teaching and learning only by your sincerity and vivaciousness, without depending on any high technology. You were so charming that I did not want to miss any one of your lectures. My love for European history was largely attributed to you. You were not only a great teacher; you were my friend too. Your care and concern for your students was amazing. I have learnt from you how to love my students now. You have taught me how to be a genuine good teacher. Many thanks for you. I will always miss you.

Wu Kwok Shu, Derek
1992 Graduate


The news comes as a shock to me. Words can hardly convey the pain of
losing dear Mr. Peter Deli. He is not only our reputable teacher, but also our cherished friend and mentor. His passion towards life, his enthusiasm towards teaching and his sense of humor are impressive. His readiness to accept students' ideas and comments encouraged us to be outspoken in those days. Although I have graduated for nearly 9 years, the ways that Mr Deli conducted the lectures and tutorials are still vivid in my memory. His enlightening comments and energetic teaching style certainly contributes to my incessant interests in European history.

Friendship between Mr. Deli and his students extends beyond college days. His friendship is truly treasured in my heart no matter where I am or how many days have passed away.

His smiling face and glamour will long linger in our memories. He will be sorely missed by his students around the world.

Mr. Deli is gone far away to a silent land. May he rest in peace. May God comfort the hearts of his family.

Fenny Wong
A graduate in 1992


A Letter to Mr. Deli

April is not the cruelest month. It is February. When I read the cruel sentence announcing your departure, I could not believe it. How could anyone? The last time I saw you, you said hopefully that you would win the battle. You were looking so confident and cheerful that I believed you completely, as I had believed every word you said in lectures and seminars. Once I panicked and instantly asked about your news, and you were fine. Afterwards I had no doubt that when I came back we would go for that cup of coffee you promised us so long ago. How could I believe that this promise would remain unfulfilled?

To me, you are a perfect teacher despite your sometimes indecipherable handwriting. You must love life so passionately, that if anyone should live, you should. Why you of all people? If you were here, would you perhaps direct me to the writings of Dostoyevsky and Camus for an answer? And all the discussions we had on the Intellectual History course? I still remember your teaching well.

And I remember the first time we met on a staff-student conference when you recommended me The Seventh Seal. I went immediately to the library to watch it reverently, understanding very little of it - a fact that I never mentioned to you because I was anxious to impress you. And I remember your typewriter brightly resonating as you typed a reference for me, and the slip you made which we both laughed at as a Freudian slip - we had just done Freud in a previous seminar. And how proudly you showed me a photo of you in Paris, 1968. That picture remains vividly in my mind. And last Christmas I had ransacked London's card shops looking for a perfect Christmas card that I thought would be worthy of you. Cartoons were out of the question; as to cards with mass reproductions of art masterpieces I was afraid that you would think me vulgar and corrupted by commercialism. Alas I failed to find one that would do justice to my belief in your intelligence and taste. So I put off writing at all. My regret.

And I remember how spirited and energetic you always were in lectures, how you fumbled with your pile of notes. And your fantastic office! You yourself smiled at its disorderliness, but insisted there was order under apparent chaos. Indeed you always managed to find what you needed. How that made us smile! I thought it a manifestation of intellectual's casual nonchalance. Great minds are not for small things.

Dear Mr. Deli, wherever you are, please continue to be happy. And oh, I never minded that you remembered me without remembering my name. And I must tell you that a cultural course is not too bad after all. I had meant to tell you this over our cup of coffee, but you were gone too early. Much too early.

Leung Wing Kan


It used to be great fun passing by Mr. Deli's office in the Main Building with
my friends. I told them it was the most impressive office one could find in the university. My curious friends stole a quick glance through the narrowly-opened wooden door, stunned by the chaos, then laughed vehemently.

I was lucky. As a student of Mr. Deli's, I had the privilege to enter the office and have a careful look at its disorderliness. Whenever Mr. Deli was reading me the comments he had written on the last page of my essay, my attention strayed from the comments to the lump of books and papers spreading all over the table. I remember that one of my pens was buried in the volume and not found again!

Mr. Deli is one of the teachers whom I will never forget. He embodied the qualities of the best teachers - intelligent, caring, witty and experienced. I would like to emphasize his love and care for students. He apparently enjoyed company with us, and was always ready to chat with us, talk about himself and show us photographs. And he loved taking photos with his students at the end of the courses. He also showed much enthusiasm in responding to our requests. I remember that he repeatedly assured final-years students of writing good references for them, and he spent much time discussing and drafting my research topic with me. And his friendly smile was always there. He was both a loving teacher and a dear friend.

With all these reminiscences in my mind, I am now having an urge to thank Mr. Deli heartily for everything I have received. I have not done that in time, and now it is too late. My deepest grief and regret.

Shortly before his departure, he told me on the phone that he liked the photos my friend and I sent to him. This compliment has comforted me a bit. At least I can be sure that my little deed has cheered him up.

When I told my friends that Mr. Deli has left, everyone was shocked and grieved by the loss of the charming teacher. I passed by his office with its closed door and felt its emptiness.

But "emptiness" is not an appropriate word to end a piece of reminiscences of a man who loved life and enjoyed every moment of it. Mr. Deli's life is worth celebrating. His was a life so blessed with wisdom, love and joy, things he readily shared with everyone known to him. Memories of him will live forever in our minds.

Shirley Wong


Mr. Deli is one of the nicest teachers that I have ever met. His pass-away
is not only a great loss to his family, but also to his friends and students. We all like his lecture, seminars and films. Most of all, we love him as a teacher and as a friend. When I first saw him, I had the impression that he resembled much to Santa Claus. It was not just because of his physical appearance (his beard and his belly), but more because of his warmness and cheerfulness. He is strong and tough for he is outspoken and direct in his arguments, opinions and actions.
When I had more contact with him in my second year, we became friends and shared a lot. I will never forget his kindness and the time we spent in the corridors outside the History Department, in his office and in Super Sandwich. When he was not feeling well in the past few months, he still concerned us and helped Yan and me to apply for a scholarship. He said that he would help us to have a brighter future. His words were so touching that I was on the brink of tears. I remember that he said he would celebrate our graduation (and his "graduation" - his retirement) with us. Though he won't be with us in our graduation ceremony, we will all remember him. I feel sorry for his pass-away. I will remember forever his voice, his words and the moments we shared together. I don't know how to express my feelings but I wrote this with all my heart to pay my last tribute to my dearest teacher and friend.
Adieu, Mr. Deli.

His student,
Bianca Cheung