Collaborations between Harvard and the Philippines: The Beginning of Countless Opportunities

Upon hearing the words, “Harvard University,” one can surely associate words such as prestigious, extraordinary, quality education, and the list goes on. This could be from a biased perception of mine, but I sure am not alone on this way of thinking. The rigorous admissions process of being accepted in Harvard itself already sets the standard it beholds. However, beyond this process, Harvard has nonetheless has had its doors open to all, encouraging a wide range of ethnic diversities. With this in mind, it leads to the question; is the Philippines a major player in this wide range of ethnic diversities?

At current, the Philippines already has around 500 brilliant individuals who carry the name of the institution. These individuals who earned their masters in business administration, masters in public administration, and the like are now by majority practically running the country in both the public and private sector. Observing this kind of trend brought about the interest of Harvard representatives namely; Dr. Margot Gill, Professor Donald Pfister, and Theodore Gilman.

Last March 15, 2017, at the new elegant brasserie- style French restaurant, Mirèio Salon in Raffles Hotel, Makati, a breakfast panel discussion was organized by the Harvard Club of the Philippines to welcome their support towards the Harvard representatives’ interest in the Philippines.

The panel discussion first started off with Dr. Margot Gill, the administrative dean for international affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, with her warm gratitude towards the Harvard Club of the Philippines. Shortly after, she began to explain present collaborations Harvard has already established with Universities in the Philippines. Such collaborations involved affairs such as Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business Intercollegiate Convention; Harvard Project for International and Asian Relations (HPAIR); 2015 Asia Conference in Manila; and regular University of the Philippines attendance in Cambridge conference. Harvard has even also collaborated in various faculty research projects such as, the Philippines Initiative for Leadership and Innovation in Urban Resilience: A joint proposal from the Harvard Asia Center, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; Harvard Business School FIELD Global Immersion; and collaborations with several professors and specialists in the fields of biology, zoology, and history and literature.

These partnerships between Harvard and both institutions and individuals in the Philippines are yet only the start of countless opportunities. Hence, when the open forum segment of the event began, discussions began to arise. Several members of the Harvard Club raised suggestions to the panellists, some suggestions as simple as the need for lobbying, all the way to specific suggestions on how matching these individuals to their capabilities such as individuals who excel in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, a major focus of students in the Philippines, is critically essential.

After several suggestions raised by the present members, along with some of the members personal support towards further collaboration between the institution and the Philippines, the event came to an end of alliance and confidence in strengthening the bridge between Harvard and the Philippines.

About the author:

Kayleen Cheng graduated with honors from De La Salle University- Manila with a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies. Currently she is working as the club administrator of the Harvard Business School Club of the Philippines, where she coordinates among the alumni.