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.

 

Read the article at Chronicle of Higher Education →