World Bank president shows his caring side

Updated: 2012-12-05 10:45

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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His colleagues in the United States said Jim Yong Kim is a passionate and open boss, and Kim himself said he is just an "optimistic person".

World Bank president shows his caring side

As the new president of the World Bank, Kim paid his first visit to China recently. Like most of his Chinese colleagues, I met the head of the global institution face-to-face for the first time.

I followed him for a whole day when he inspected some of the World Bank's projects in Sichuan province, which is recovering from its devastating 2008 earthquake that left more than 80,000 people dead or missing.

What impressed me the most about the Korean-American man, who is also a physician and anthropologist, is his willingness to care and share with the people around him; his smiles; and his sense of humor.

At Deyang Yuyan Auto Maintenance Corp, when the founder of the company introduced him to its charity foundation, Kim immediately took $100 out of the pocket as a donation.

At Yanting Maternity and Children's Hospital in Mianyang city, he asked the head of the hospital to take him to the rooms to look at the medical treatment conditions of the newborns and the women who had given birth.

At the end of the trip, Kim asked his news officer to shoot a short video for him, in which Kim said how impressive it was to see the reconstruction of Sichuan in the aftermath of the earthquake with the assistance of the World Bank.

He told me that he has the habit of doing short videos on what he sees and feels about the development when he visits a country, and puts the videos on a website to share with others.

The World Bank is transforming itself into an institution that aims to help countries find solutions for their development challenges. His passion for knowing the people and sharing the development he feels together with his working experience in the university and the World Health Organization would probably prove that he is the right person for the job.

He always smiles, and has a lot of interesting ideas. In the 3,000-square-meter square of Yunxi town of Yanting county, he invited the women who sang and danced in the center to perform Gangnam Style, the K-pop single by South Korean musician PSY.

On the bus heading to Mianyang airport to go back to Beijing after the trip to Sichuan ended, I had the opportunity to interview him. Or, to be more exact, we had a nice talk for almost 40 minutes, twice the time we had agreed on earlier.

For me, he feels like an uncle or an older brother.

During the talk, Kim continually coughed, which made me nervous, but he answered all my questions and never interrupted me, although his news officer did so twice - in a friendly way. About halfway through the interview, I brought a bottle of water to him. He said "thanks" with a big smile but didn't drink, continuing the conversation.

I even thought the interview would probably have been longer, if I hadn't ended it.

His colleagues would agree with me on what I feel. "He is not a politician, but he is more of a scholar. He says what he means. He makes me feel close and relaxed," a Chinese colleague of Kim told me.