Professor, 89, aims to inspire hope in his students

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Professor, 89, aims to inspire hope in his students

Cho Yong-kee, who owns the Wooam Institute, an educational foundation that opened 65 years ago, delivers a lecture titled “Cho Yong-kee Anthropology” every Monday for two hours at Nambu University in Gwangju.

He has worked as a teacher for 70 years now, having started his career in 1945 at Soongil Middle School in Gwangju. And although he will turn 90 next year, his voice is still strong enough to deliver his presentations.

“There is an old saying that goes, ‘Many drops make a shower.’ It means if you concentrate on one thing, you can succeed,” said Cho.

“A 60-year-old still has 30 years before he or she reaches my age, but you can still achieve something great at my age even if you take on a challenge now.”

As his voice boomed through the lecture hall on Aug. 14 at Nambu University his students - around the same age as his grandchildren - nodded earnestly.

In his presentations, he aims to impart his wisdom.

Additionally, each Tuesday, he gives a lecture about life at Chunnam Techno University in Gokseong County, South Jeolla, which also belongs to the Woonam Institute.

In each, he talks about his own life and encourages his students to dream big, emphasizing the challenge in trying new things.

Cho is also renowned for thoroughly preparing for his lectures. To ready himself for a two-hour speech, he makes an effort to read books and documents for seven to eight hours.

“I want to instill a sense or hope and ambition in my students by giving well-prepared lectures,” he said.

Cho was born in Okgwa-myeon in Gokseong County and graduated from Suncheon Agricultural High School, going on to study politics at Chosun University.

He received his doctoral degree in educational administration from Pacific Western University in Hawaii in 1997, when he was 71 years old.

During Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Cho, a middle school student, opened a night school.

When he was 24, he established Okgwa High School, formerly Okgwa Higher Agricultural Technical School.

Over its 65-year history, the Wooam Institute has grown into an educational foundation with two universities, a high school and a middle school.

BY CHOI KYEONG-HO [koo.yurim@joongang.co.kr]

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