My Red Cross story - Ban Ki-moon

Published: 6 May 2014 15:40 CET

My Red Cross story starts in the dusty rural village where I grew up in war-torn Korea. Thanks to the American Red Cross, I was given the opportunity to join teenagers from 42 countries to travel across the United States visiting Red Cross chapters. The trip opened my eyes to the world. I returned to Korea a different person. In the newspapers and in my village, I was a bit of a celebrity, and became known as the boy who went to America!
But the trip was also a turning point on a deeper level. From small towns to the White House Rose Garden, where we met President John F. Kennedy, I was profoundly moved by the spirit of service. When President Kennedy told us, “There are no national boundaries; there is only a question of whether we can extend a helping hand”, I resolved then and there to pursue a life of public service.
My Red Cross story continues today with the fruitful partnership between the United Nations and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Our organizations share common values – solidarity, mutual respect – and together we brave danger to uphold them.
In crisis spots around the world, we work together to save lives, protect human rights and promote dignity. Our world has changed much, but the Red Cross remains as meaningful as ever.