UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon puts a pin on Chinese pianist Lang Lang on Monday in the United Nations after he was designated a Messenger of Peace with a special focus on education. Lang Lang, the first person from China to receive the honor, will help with the UN campaign to use the "transformative power of education to build a better future for all". PHOTO BY NIU XIAOLEI / XINHUA
He has become an international star through his emotional interpretations of classical music. Now Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang is taking to the world stage to help the United Nations promote global education.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday designated the acclaimed 31-year-old native of Shenyang, Liaoning province, as a Messenger of Peace with a special focus on education. In the role, Lang Lang — the first person from China to receive the honor — will support the secretary-general's Global Education First Initiative. The campaign will use the "transformative power of education to build a better future for all" through raising education's political profile and quality, and generating funding through "sustained advocacy efforts", according to the UN website.
"Education is the key to development," Lang Lang said at a ceremony at the UN headquarters in Manhattan. "Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow. We must give them the necessary tools to reach their goals in life and make their dreams come true."
By putting every child in school, improving the quality of education and fostering global citizenship, the UN has said it can more effectively tackle child mortality, poverty and environmental degradation — problems prioritized by its member nations in 2000.
When he was asked whether he saw the appointment as an opportunity not only to do humanitarian work but to raise China's global profile, Lang Lang said, "China has become a very important global player. The next generation of Chinese will be much more open toward different parts of the world. The UN gives me the perfect platform to start looking at that.''
The pianist, who has been playing since age 3, termed it "a great honor" to be the first Messenger of Peace from China. "It's given me tremendous pleasure to stand up here today," he said. "I hope I can take the challenge and find a more meaningful place to work with people and to work with myself as well."
Following the ceremony, the pianist gave a stirring performance of Chopin's Waltz No 1 in E-flat major. He granted an audience member's request for more by performing what he said was a "new piece", a Chinese composition titled Seaweed.
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