In the first week of November 2014, a very special group of students celebrated their graduations from Nanjing Forestry University and Qufu Normal School in China. These students from underprivileged backgrounds were able to take advantage of financial support offered by Asia Symbol Pulp Co., Ltd., which operates some of the world’s largest and busiest pulp and paper mills in Shandong and Guangdong Provinces.
Under the direction of Sukanto Tanoto, the Indonesian businessman and philanthropist who founded the $15 billion RGE Group of corporations, Asia Symbol has become a positive force in the local communities in which it operates.
Thanks to the company’s and Mr. Tanoto’s generosity through the “Realize Your Dreams” project, a number of students now have access to educational and financial opportunities that were once only a dream. Having experienced a tarnished dream caused by financial difficulties, Sukanto Tanoto now ensures that he is able to help as many young students to achieve their dreams.
Working in partnership with the foreign affairs office for the city of Rizhao, and with the Shandong Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Asia Symbol has enabled deserving students from Guangdong and Heilongjiang Provinces, Chongqing City, and other locations to make their dreams a reality. The first graduating class of 2011 has received corporate assistance in the form of internships and training. The graduates have also gained the academic and practical skills to assume positions with companies throughout the region.
For Sukanto Tanoto, education is both a lifelong personal pursuit and a cause. The self-made entrepreneur was forced by family circumstances to end his own schooling in his teens, but he has since taken every available opportunity to educate himself. He reads widely in English and Chinese, including significant works of history, business, and philosophy. He has studied at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and has stressed the importance of a solid practical and academic education to his employees and his own children.
Through the Tanoto Foundation and direct corporate philanthropy through Asia Symbol and his other companies, Mr. Tanoto places a strong focus on giving back to today’s young people, who face the same kinds of challenging circumstances that gave him his start. The graduation ceremony at Asia Symbol represents the culmination of a dream for both the Tanoto family and for a new generation of students.