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The Experience That Changed Ban Ki-moon's Career

"We were hungry, but we were also hungry and thirsty for education, to learn more about the world." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had a life-changing experience in high school: he came to the United States and met President Kennedy. After that, he knew he wanted to make the world a better place.

Some of our favorite excerpts:

"Korea was totally destroyed after Korean War. I was one of many poor children at that time, and we were very hungry. At the same time, we were hungry and thirsty for education, to learn more about the world. When I was a high school student, I had the privilege, very rare privilege and invaluable opportunity of coming to the United States at the invitation of American Red Cross Society. As you know, I was chairman of the Red Cross Club in my high school. And I was selected as one of the Korean representatives. This was a group of 100 -- a little over 100 young people from more than 40 countries.

The most inspiring moment for me was to have an opportunity of visiting White House and met John F. Kennedy. He was looking across a group of people that he said that, people in this world are not getting along well. But you, young people, you can get along well. And there are no national boundaries. The only question is whether you can extend your helping hand to many people who are in need of such need."

On choosing your path:
"When I was a middle school boy, the principle of my middle school at that time told us that you have to set your aim high. And I tried to achieve it step by step. While you have high aims, you should put your two feet firmly planted on the ground and move step by step.

That has given me a clear idea how I should walk to achieve my goals. When I set my goals to become a diplomat, I just walked toward that direction. Frankly, I didn't think about of joining other business. Now that I'm Secretary-General, dealing with many different issues, even I'm meeting a lot of business CEOs.

Yesterday, I met the world class businesses CEOs talking about climate change and sustainable energy. I was wondering, had I sought some other career path, would I have been or could I have been as successful as they were? But I'm proud that I'm working for the peace and development and human rights of the world. This has been my dream and I'm happy that I'm able to contribute even in a modest way toward peace and development."

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