Repaying a debt, former student donates $10,000 to college
For some people a debt of less than $100 incurred over 16 years ago would seem insignificant. That was not the case for former Cowley College student Chi Hyun Park, who often thought about the debt and recently made an incredibly generous donation to his former school.
Park, who was born and raised in Seoul, Korea, attended Cowley College for one semester in 1993. Prior to coming to Cowley, Park studied German Literature in Korea, and English at Wichita State University. He took English, speech and business management classes at Cowley.
“I still keep the essays that I wrote during the class,” Park said. “I loved English and Speech a lot. I always handled our traditional issues and my classmates loved to hear it.”
While at the school, Park and four other male students shared a pair of rooms in the women’s dormitory due to a lack of dorm space.
The five students shared one telephone line that was registered in the name of one of the students. Park cannot remember the name of the student, but he would pay his friend for making phone calls back home to Korea each time they received the phone bill.
However, once the semester ended and Park had completed his English class, he headed back to Korea to finish his studies.
When he was ready to leave the dorm, he had to pay the pending telephone charge to the student, but did not have the money to do so.
Park informed his friend he would send him a check when he got to Wichita, where he planned to stay for a month before returning to Korea.
Unfortunately, Park was unable to send the check. So, when he made it back to Korea he wrote a letter to his friend in an attempt to pay the debt. He did not receive a reply.
“Until now more than 15 years have been passed and I could never forget about this,” Park said. “The amount was very big to a student (during) those times. I could not forgive myself whenever I thought about how he was disappointed with a Korean friend.”
With Park being unsuccessful in his attempts to locate his friend, he decided to make a $10,000 donation to Cowley College as compensation for the disappointment he believes his friend must have felt.
“Maybe he forgot about this and I teledo not need to find him anymore,” Park said. “However, he and I were the students of the same school. By any reasons, we all owe to our school, teachers and the society during our lives. This debt cannot be measured by numbers; I just donate what I can afford.”
Park e-mailed Shannon Massey, Cowley College executive director of alumni and development, in the beginning to share his story. Massey wrote back informing Park the college would be happy to start an endowed scholarship in his name.
Park and his wife have (twins) a four year old son and daughter. The couple live in Venezuela, where Park is the manager of LG Electronics.
“Someday, when my kids grow up a bit more, I want to travel to Wichita and Ark City,” Park said. “I want to show them where their father spent his time when he was young.”
Despite being the only Korean student during his one semester at Cowley, Park enjoyed his time at the school.
“The school was very nice and I enjoyed my stay in the school and town (such a lovely small town),” Park said. “I was a bit lonely, but I had a couple of very good friends and they treated me like their family. This is why I can not forget those times.”