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  • On Courage and Difference: Excerpts From Graduation Speeches

    Chronicle of Higher Education - 05/28/2013

    Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank and former president of Dartmouth College, at Northeastern University: My father spent his childhood in North Korea and, at the age of 19, escaped across the border into South Korea, leaving his parents, his brothers and sisters, his entire extended family—everything he had ever known—behind. He had no money. Still, he managed to enroll in the Seoul National University dental school and became a dentist.

    He told me stories about how he had so little money he often could afford to buy lunch only from the illegal noodle vendors on the street. Once, when he was eating his contraband ramyun next to the vendor, the police came and chased after the vendors and their customers. But while he ran, my father kept eating his noodles because he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford another bowl….

    You see, my father knew all about uncertainty. He knew that it’s impossible to be sure about where you might end up in life. And [later] he worried that his own success might have deprived his children of the opportunity to understand deeply the meaning of running away from the noodle police while, of course, finishing your noodles.


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