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

Written by Kayleen Cheng

Upon hearing the name “Harvard University,” one usually associates it with words such as “prestigious”, “extraordinary”, “quality education”, and so on. This could stem from a biased perception of mine, but I sure am not alone in this way of thinking. The rigorous admissions process of being accepted in Harvard itself already sets the standard it holds. However, beyond this process, Harvard has nonetheless opened its doors 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?

Currently, 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 City, a breakfast panel discussion was organized by the Harvard Club of the Philippines to offer their support towards the Harvard representatives’ interest in the Philippines.

The panel discussion started off with Dr. Margot Gill, the administrative dean for International Affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, expressing 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 the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business Intercollegiate Convention, the Harvard Project for International and Asian Relations (HPAIR), the 2015 Asia Conference in Manila, and regular University of the Philippines attendance in the Cambridge conference. Harvard has also collaborated with 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, history, and literature.

These partnerships between Harvard and both institutions and individuals in the Philippines are only the beginning of countless opportunities. Hence, when the open forum segment of the event started, discussions began to arise. Several members of the Harvard Club raised suggestions to the panelists — some suggestions as simple as the need for lobbying, all the way to specific suggestions on how matching individuals to their capabilities — such as those 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 pledging personal support towards further collaborations between the institution and the Philippines, the event ended as a summary of alliance and confidence in strengthening the bridge between Harvard and the Philippines.

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About the author:

Kayleen Cheng is a graduate of De La Salle University- Manila with a bachelor of arts 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.