Bill Gates talks with PKU students on philanthropy
Peking University, June 14, 2011: Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and honorary trustee of Peking University, paid a visit to PKU on June 11 and talked with students on philanthropy.
Bill Gates (5th L) with PKU Council Chairman Min Weifang (5th R) and PKU Vice Presidents Hai Wen (4th L) and Li Yansong (4th R)
Bill Gates mentioned in his speech “Gates to Success” that he has shifted his focus from software to charity work. He entered Harvard University in 1973 where he created a programming language BASIC. Later in 1975, Mr. Gates dropped out of Harvard and established Microsoft Enterprise. In 2000, Mr. Gates and his wife founded Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which aims at eliminating hunger and extreme poverty in developing countries as well as enhancing health care and education.
Guided by the foundation’s principle “We all have equal value”, Mr. Gates said that he intended to help more people have access to a better life. He particularly mentioned “Grand Challenges Explorations” (GCE) program, which offers US$100 million to support bold and innovative research on major diseases in developing countries.
"If we look at the advances, whether in technology or medicine, we can see that it's very difficult to make sure that everybody gets the benefits on those advances. For example, vaccines, which are quite in demand, are invented and used in rich countries but passed and taken over the past 20 years before they get to the children who actually need them most in countries like Kenya, Africa”, Mr. Gates said.
Bill Gates answering PKU students' questions
Mr. Gates added that there were a lot of differences between his current charity work and previous business, but he also said that a lot of valuable lessons he has learned from his experience in Microsoft could be applied to the foundation.
“Microsoft was always about bringing innovation by hiring the smartest people, leading as many changes as possible and putting together great teams,” said Mr. Gates. “Sometimes, it takes 10 years to make a breakthrough. That kind of patience actually characterizes what the foundation is doing.”
During the Q & A session, PKU students were eager to communicate with Mr. Gates. A sociology student asked how college students could contribute to charity with limited capital. Mr. Gates believed that charity doesn’t simply mean donation; it is not the privilege of successful people. He said that young people can turn charity into a new social trend through study, work and volunteering with the faith in equality. Mr. Gates laid emphasis on the significance of the whole society’s full participation in charity work when asked whether the foundation would offer aid to China’s poverty-stricken areas. He said that it was not the government’s privilege to do charity, and the foundation was willing to cooperate with China’s non-governmental organizations to reduce poverty and diseases. At the end of the Q & A session, one student asked Mr. Gates’ opinion about seemingly impossible dreams. Mr. Gates encouraged young people to take actions and he believed many dreams may come true step by step if only youngsters try their best in everything they do persistently and bravely.
Bill Gates interacting with PKU students
Mr. Gates is an old friend of Peking University. He first visited the university in 1995 before Microsoft developed into a successful giant enterprise. In 2007, Mr. Gates received the honor of Peking University honorary trustee and in 2008 he watched the Olympic table tennis semi-final between China and the Republic of Korea in Peking University Gymnasium. And under his guidance, PKU School of Mathematical Science, School of Electronics Engineering and Computer Science, and School of Software and Microelectronics all have long-term cooperation with Microsoft. In addition, Bill and Melinda Gates pays close attention to China’s research and prevention work on HIV/AIDS and sponsored the AIDS prevention project of Professor Deng Hongkui from School of Life Sciences in 2006.
“The world is changing rapidly, and it is the younger generation who truly understand the possibility of new emerging things that can change the future,” Mr. Gates said. “Microsoft has excellent cooperative partners in China and many PKU graduates work in our foundation to make the world a better place.”
PKU invites Mr. Gates to visit the campus every year and talk to its students on a certain topic, sharing with them his life experience and encouraging them to work for a better future.