Joyful Comeback to CNU!
By Kim Sun-woo, Tribune Reporter
How many people on our campus can picture an image of Chonnam National University (CNU) about 30 years ago? There will be, of course, only a few people who can remember our campus back in the 1980s -- apart from several senior faculty and staff members who started their careers early at CNU. But, how would you feel if you knew there was a foreigner who has vivid memories of our campus back then? Luckily and interestingly, the Chonnam Tribune found a foreigner who remembers the CNU campus in the early 1980s. With much curiosity and high expectations, I met this special person, Professor Robert David Grotjohn.
On August 11th of last year, CNU appointed Robert David Grotjohn as a full-time foreign professor in the Dept. of English Language and Literature. This appointment to CNU has a special meaning to him: Professor Grotjohn’s relationship with CNU goes back to about 30 years ago. From 1981 to 1984, he taught English conversation and composition at our school, and he loved teaching the students at CNU and living in Gwangju, his second home. Prof. Grotjohn has special memories about CNU and Gwangju, and he witnessed many changes at CNU and in Gwangju since that time. I asked him what kind of changes he has witnessed at CNU and in Gwangju from the past to the present.
He said “About 30 years ago, students at CNU acted more politically because of the 5.18 incidents. So many lectures were canceled and I could often smell tear gas all over the campus.” Mentioning the absence of political consciousness among the students in the present time, he said “Of course, though Korea has achieved a much advanced democracy in the last 30 years, I hope CNUians continue to be as sensitive to social and political justice as their predecessor were.” Additionally, regarding the relationships between boys and girls on campus, he added that, “There were hardly any couples on campus then, so every group of students was divided into boys and girls. But these days, lots of couples hold hands on campus and I think it is a good thing.”
In the end, when I asked what he wants to do at CNU, he answered, “Since my academic field is Asian-American literature, I want to help students develop transnational and global perspectives, because we are living in a more global world. Compared to the 1980s at CNU, when there were hardly any foreigners on campus, nowadays I see foreigners everywhere.” He stated that, “I would like to help CNUians develop their global awareness and cross cultural understanding.”
Professor Grotjohn finished the interview with this advice to CNU students: “I hope that all of you CNUians study hard and prepare for your own future, and be open to new and challenging experiences. I also hope you feel thankful for living in a democratic country.” During the interview, I felt that he has kept loving memories of CNU and Gwangju and thus wished to join our campus as a full-time professor. I hope he continues to enjoy teaching on our campus and living in Gwangju as he did 30 years ago.