Greater Kaohsiung’s Hungmaokang Elementary School alumni late last month successfully raised enough money to purchase books and establish a new school library in honor of a former teacher whose spirit of dedication to his students included crimping and saving to help students purchase books and supplies.
Lee Shu (李澍) was a military veteran from China’s Shandong Province who began teaching at the school in 1964.
Wu Rong-ching (吳榮慶), a professor at I-Shou University’s Electrical Engineering Department and a former student of Lee’s, said about a third of the people in Hungmaokang were taught by Lee at some point.
Hungmaokang is a traditional fishing village with many students from poor families.
Lee gave free after-class tutoring and even became a skilled barber, keeping his students neat and clean, locals said.
During his 36 years of teaching, Lee was always the last to leave the campus, locals said, adding that he often called students to ask about their achievements after graduation.
Lee Kao-ching (李高進), a former warden of Haifeng Borough (海豐), recalled that after he won the borough election for the first time and returned home after thanking the voters, he was surprised to find Lee Shu waiting for him at his office.
Lee Shu simply wanted to tell him that he should always keep up his passion for serving other people and should avoid being greedy.
The elementary school, originally called Hai Shan Elementary School (海山國小), changed to its present name six years ago when the village was relocated and it became part of Cianjhen District (前鎮).
At the time that the school was torn down for reconstruction, Lee Shu initially wanted to donate his life savings, NT$1.6 million (US$54,500), toward the building of a new school library, but the discovery of a brain tumor made it difficult for him to communicate his wishes.
He passed away in 2009, at the age of 83, when the students at the new school still lacked a proper library.
Many villagers have scattered to different places after the village relocation, and the wish of establishing the library remained unfulfilled until a Hungmaokang community page was created on Facebook three years ago.
Alumni mentioned Lee Shu’s wish while chatting, which prompted Wu to begin raising funds for books and materials in the name of Lee Shu.
Although most people in Hungmaokang are considered “green” politically, they said they fondly remember the Chinese veteran.
“Lee Shu always took care of Hungmaokang villagers, so even today, some villagers will gather to pay respects to him at his grave,” Wu said.