Studying in the birthplace of the Antigonish Movement – including credit unions – holds a special place for SeokJo Son.
The 2015 Diploma in Development Leadership program participant at the Coady International Institute works with the National Credit Union Federation of Korea (NACUFOK).
“It is very nice. I have been learning a lot, especially from my fellow Coady students,” the soft spoken Son said, noting they constantly share stories.
“It has been a great experience,” he added.
Son, the NACUFOK planning and co-ordination team senior chief, described studying here as a “great opportunity,” noting the deep relationship and history between his organization and the Coady.
“The seed of our Korean credit union movement began in Nova Scotia,” he said.
Son added the two credit union “pioneers” from his country studied under the guidance of Father Dr. Moses Coady in 1957. Three years later, the first credit union opened in Korea.
“Now, we have 920 credit unions and almost six million members (5.72 million),” he said, noting NACUFOK boasts $61 billion in assets.
Established in 1964, the federation is a non-profit institution that acts as a trade association, financial intermediary and business organization made up of all credit unions.
Son spoke to the Casket the day before receiving a prestigious honour, the annual Coady Family Global Bursary.
“I am honoured and very appreciative,” he said, with a warm smile, noting he was looking forward to travelling to Coady’s native Margaree to receive the bursary.
In a Coady press release, Son spoke further about the recognition, including thanking the family for its generosity.
“This support represents their deep commitment to the vision of Dr. Coady – a vision that continues through the work of thousands of graduates around the world,” he said.
As a “token of gratitude,” Son has presented two books to the Coady family; one about the two Koreans who studied at StFX, while the other is about the credit union movement in his country, which includes a reference to the importance of the Antigonish Movement.
June Webber, Coady director, said the bursary is an important example of local scholarship support that helps bring community leaders from around the world to the StFX campus.
The Coady Family Global Bursary, which provides an annual scholarship to a deserving community leader to attend the 20-week Diploma in Development Leadership program, was established by the families of the grand-nephews and grand-nieces of Moses Coady, in honour of the late Mary Jesse Coady and her husband Leo.
Moses Coady, grand-nephew of Dr. Coady, said the family is pleased to support Son with the annual bursary.
“It is fitting that Mr. Son is from the credit union movement, a very important component of the Antigonish Movement’s success,” he added in the Coady press release announcing the award.
When the 2015 diploma class visited the Coady homestead in Margaree Saturday (Sept. 12), the family presented Son with a certificate.
The Coady trip to Cape Breton is an annual highlight for participants “who are keen to learn more about the history of the Antigonish Movement, StFX Extension Department and Coady Institute,” the press release said.
More to do
Son said he has improved and strengthened many skills while at Coady, including his leadership abilities.
“There is much more to learn,” he noted of his remaining time at Coady.
Since his arrival, Son has visited the St. Andrews branch of the Bergengren Credit Union, while a stop at its head office in downtown Antigonish is on the to-do list, including a meeting with Bergengren CEO Dan Hodgins.
“I want to talk about the relationships each of our credit unions has with their members – the similarities and the differences,” he said.