Skilled business advisor and international consultant Dr. George Koo spent his early days in southern China. He was the child of special parents, special because they were both educated.
“In the days of my dad (early 1900s), there were very few college graduates (<1% of population.) And even more rare was for both parents to be college graduates.”
Koo's parents met while both studying Marine Biology at Xiamen University (then called Amoy University) in Xiamen.
The university was funded by one of the “famous patriots and rubber barons from China,” Tan Kah Kee. He couldn’t afford to go to school himself, but when he made his riches in rubber in Malaysia “he took that money and, among other things, funded Amoy University and made it tuition-free.”
Upon graduation, Koo’s father went onto Linnan University in southern China for his Master’s Degree, but didn’t have a chance to continue his Ph.D. Instead he returned to Amoy University to teach biology.
“The leadership at the university could see that war was coming, and Xiamen being a very important harbor was going to be occupied for sure. So they picked up and moved (the university) to the interior of Fujian province (a city called Changting). And you heard stories of students traipsing through enemy lines to get to college.
"Picture a circular zone in the remote area of Fujian. Technically everything outside of it is Japanese territory. It’s just that it was not worth occupying so nobody ever showed up. Every once in a while they would send a plane over and drop a bomb or two to remind us that they were still out there. It was very close to where Mao hung out when Chiang Kai Shek was after him (Jinggangshan) in such a remote area that the Japanese couldn’t spare the troops to occupy it.
“In today’s world you can drive it in three hours on the super highway. But in those days—you might as well be the other side of the earth."
(Next: Curious Dr. Koo Shocked by Well-To-Do Family)