Korean Elder Education

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When some folks retire, they search out a good recliner, a pair of comfy slippers and a remote control. But as Reed Galin reports, a group of Korean immigrants in Georgia is tackling retirement by attending school and learning more about their adopted country.

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(Locator: Duluth, Georgia) 

They don’t jump and jostle their way onto the school bus. The driver never has to scold these students back into their seats…because, by the time you’re 60 years past middle school, it’s not the bus ride – it’s the actual classes that are the fun part.


At the United Methodist Korean Church of Atlanta, Yoohie Sohn (YOU-EE SAN) helped organize a school for immigrant seniors. He teaches the English class.

“My favorite sport is baseball…”

And a little American culture along the way.

“Who is your favorite singer?”

“Ray Charles!”

Sohn was a successful engineer, now retired.

Yoohie Sohn/United Methodist Shalom School: “I make the curriculum myself. Think of average age of 70 or better. How could any existing commercial program off the shelf satisfy that kind of student’s needs?”

Nom Hyum Shin (NOM-HOOM SHIN) is familiar with the expression “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

(Interpreter’s voice): “If the old dog has a mind to learn, she still can. Without school, I would stay home depressed and isolated.”

The day includes “recess” – senior style. Physical education is a critical part of this school. And, there is computer instruction.

Yoohie Sohn/United Methodist Shalom School: “These people, they need somebody to come to them and bring what’s left in their lives out so they can enjoy more.”


Mr. Sohn began by laying out the course work meticulously. But, a 91-year-old woman urged him to speed it up. He realized his students didn’t have any time to waste waiting for him. He says there comes a point where, like the shoe company says, you just “do it.”

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