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96-year-old completes masters in philosophy

A 96-YEAR-OLD Taiwanese man who will receive a master's degree in philosophy this weekend said he was able to compete with younger students by pulling all-nighters before exams.

Chao Mu-he, better known to his classmates at Nanhua University in southern Taiwan as "Grandpa Chao," said he began graduate school after being told he was too old to continue as a volunteer at a local hospital.

"I was bored after I left the hospital," Chao said yesterday. "I don't play mahjong or have other hobbies. I felt I had to do something with my life."

In London, a spokeswoman for Guinness World Records said she could not say if Chao is the oldest recipient of a graduate degree because the company does not keep records in this category.

Chao said the most difficult part of his studies was coping with a poor memory.

"I can't remember things as well as my fellow students," he said.

"So before a test I would wake up at midnight and study all night. That way, the material was still fresh in my mind when the test began."

He specialized in the works of Zhuangzi, a 4th century BC Taoist master.

Twenty-five-year-old classmate Liang Yu-chen described Chao as a polite and modest man who got on well with fellow students and paid great respect to younger teachers - making a deep bow before addressing them.

"Grandpa Chao is a living example of Zhuangzi's teachings," Liang said. "He is always at ease, not fighting anyone."

Chao, who lives alone, said he was uncertain about his future plans. "I just want to stay healthy," he said.


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