|Lee teaches students of Department of Sex in Passion College, which is now recruiting students for its 10th semester. He also gives lectures to outside organizations such as Durex. Photo provided by Passion College.
Are you going to pursue a career that is related to your major? If not, have you decided what kind of work you want to do after graduation? Living in a society where one’s major is no longer a dominant factor in one’s choice of career, many students feel lost when the time comes to choose a career to pursue. Such confusion is mainly due to the lack of opportunities to experience diverse fields of study and work even after entering university.
However, there are young people who have seized the opportunity to try out everything that they once vaguely thought to be interesting but have not had time or courage to actually explore. For example, a group of students is discussing what kind of meat goes best with different type of beverages. Another group is talking about true happiness. These young people who have decided to invest their time in things that are seemingly useless at first are the students of Passion College.
Passion College is not a real school but a social venture that provides activities, lectures and programs that help young people in their twenties find their true passion and talents. At Passion College, students are not mere passive learners who receive education like they would in standard schools. Passion College students actively choose what to study from various unique majors such as majors that study meat, death, happiness and sex. Making a bucket list is required when entering Passion College, and students have to complete some tasks written on their bucket lists. They can form a group with other students who have similar interests to create an optional course, and if they desire to study more in depth, they can even establish a new major based on their bucket lists.
While students can literally study whatever they want, they have to take reading classes as a prerequisite. Yu Deok-su, the founder and president of Passion College, believes reading is tremendously important as it enables students to indirectly experience and learn about various fields. Even a small library for students was made to encourage students to read. In addition, a mentoring program with approximately 28 experts from different professions is provided for students to receive realistic and specific advice. He is also planning to include a program called “Journey in Search of Who I Am” in which students can have an opportunity to think about who they are and essentially why they want to make a difference in their area of interest.
In fact, Yu started to come up with the idea of Passion College after participating in the lecture “Journey in Search of Who I Am” held by a different organization when he was 30 years old. Yu originally ran an agency that helped people to study abroad, and had made a fortune out of it. However ironically, his wealth and success did not make him feel satisfied.
“I wasn’t happy like I thought I would be. Instead, I felt empty,” Yu confessed. “My motto back then was ‘If I drink soju today, I will drink whiskey tomorrow.’ I was obsessed with material success. But when I went to the “Journey in Search of Who I Am,” I found the real Yu Deok-su in me for the first time, not the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates that society demanded young people to become.”
As his view on life and dreams had changed, Yu left his own agency to start a different business with his new revelation. He planned to establish an organization that could help young people in their twenties find their real dreams, not something society had embedded in their minds.
“I am not saying that the existing education system is entirely wrong or needless,” Yu emphasized. “The current system maintains the society and is doing a good job at teaching a specific subject in depth. But what I want to do is to teach students why they are studying that subject. The aim of Passion College is not to exclude or substitute the existing education but to coexist with it.”
Yu has encountered many young people while working for Passion College, each one of them with their own passion or dream. One of his most memorable students was Lee Seok-won, who founded the Department of Sex. Lee started to study about sex after upsetting his girlfriend with a sex-related conflict. He realized that he had a distorted view of sex and thought he should know how to care and love his partner correctly.
“I originally wanted to be a recreation MC, but I thought if I combined this passion with sex education, I could create an enjoyable sex education program,” Lee said. “By witnessing the change in myself and other students while studying sex, I became sure that this was the right calling for me.”
Now Lee works as a sex education instructor. He is currently teaching people both in and outside of Passion College.
“It is important to make students discuss sex because teachers only talk through their perspectives in the current sex education system,” Lee emphasized. “Students are hesitant at first, but they quickly become involved. It is crucial for them to freely talk about realistic topics such as ‘what will you do if you are about to have sex and don’t have a condom.’”
Yu is also planning a program for senior citizens so that all generations can participate. This came as he realized that changing the views of few young people will not lead to the change of the whole society. He is working hard towards a coexistential ecosystem where students can study what they like, become experts, and teach others in turn.
“What I do, or what other people who are striving to achieve their dreams do, is not something unrealistic,” Yu stressed. “I hope young people do not give up their dreams in the name of reality. It is never too late.”