Saturday, June 05, 2010

Chris and I are here in Korea.  We just finished our working part of this travel, and began the tour part. It was a gratifying experience to come back to my alma mater, Kyung Hee University after 36 years.  It has changed a lot, and yet many things stayed the same.  

As soon as I walked through the front gate, I saw the same tower with the same logo greeted me.  You can not avoid the logo even if you try not to ignore it, "문화세계창조", it can be translated into "Creating the Cultured World".   I couldn't find another logo that was a part of the campus at that time. "세계는 경희로경희는 세계로", it can be translated into "Kyunghee leads to the World and the World leads to Kyunghee".   

Some of the students snickered at this audacious logo. This was the time when few people could be on an airplane and go to abroad.  Come to think of it Koreans at that time didnt' travel much even within Korea.  We didn't have good roads and also decent transportation to get around the country.  The person who created that logo is a dreamer, and that person was Dr. Cho who was the founder of the university.

The education I got from Kyunghee wasn't about learning the content,   Although, it gave me a qualification to teach English at a middle school, I even taught ESL in America for 3 years in 1970's.  More importantly, I think I learned to dream.  I loved to strolled the campus and dream about what I wanted to become.   Since the University was pretty new,  construction was a part of the campus landscape and different academic disciplines were created all the time.  Something was in the air.

Dr. Cho Young Shik was the President and he was also  the founder of the University.  I never personally met the President of the University at the time, but his presence was everywhere on the campus.  He spoke to students once a month at the main building (see the picture above). We complained at the time as we stood under the hot sun, but even then I sensed that he is a dream catcher.

Dr. Cho was definitely trying to teach us more than academics. He often talked to the students at an assembly which we loathed, and we had to attend in order to get PE credits.  I didn't like it at the time, standing under the scorching sun and listening to him talking about utopia.  He talked about being a global citizen, contributing to humanity, living a worthy life, creating a great society through education,  and asking us to serve the nation and the world.

As I look around the campus, I am marveled at Dr. Cho's accomplishment.  One man's dream that is realized can changed lives of so many, and even changed the nation.  Anyone who has an interest in Kyunghee University's history, they can see Dr. Cho Young Shik's  hand prints everywhere.  I was sad to hear that this great man is very sick and he is hospitalized