Trek-king issues across Asia

  • Education
  • Sunday, 26 Jan 2014

Cheah posing with some of the trekkers.

THE Harvard Asia Leadership Trek 2014 programme saw 33 participants embark on a three-week journey through five Asian cities: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul.

The participants, all graduate students from Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and Tufts University The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, were united in their interest to explore Asia and go in-depth into the realities on the ground; focusing on this year’s chosen issues in public leadership, education and entrepreneurship.

In Malaysia, the “trekkers” facilitated a one-day public conference entitled “21st Century Malaysia: Public Leadership, Education and Entrepreneurship” that was hosted by Sunway University.

Jeffrey Cheah Foundation trustee and Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) founding president Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin Tuanku Muhriz was the keynote speaker at the conference.

There was also a Leadership Forum and 12 workshops for the 500 participants, including a special workshop on the application and admission processes to Harvard University for students who are interested to further their studies.

Among the trekkers were Teach For Malaysia co-founder Keeran Sivarajah and his wife Joanna Lim who are both currently pursuing their graduate studies at Harvard University in international education policy, and learning and teaching respectively.

Keeran’s research interest lies in the role education plays in poverty while Joanna’s research is focused on early childhood literacy.

“There is a lack of deep understanding of Asian issues which the programme seeks to explore through this year’s themes of public leadership, education and entrepreneurship,” said Keeran.

“There were some good questions at the forum and we had a very lively panel, which was made up of individuals from different walks of life,” said Joanna, adding that she was impressed by the participants’ enthusiasm.

“They were coming to the workshops with their own initiatives and wanting to give ideas and get feedback.”

Keeran and Joanna were joined on the trek by fellow Malaysian Nur Azlina Abdul Aziz who is Harvard Asia Leadership Trek co-founder and current Unicef-Harvard Programme on Equity, Quality and Leadership in Education consultant.

Apart from organising the conference, the trekkers also visited the Prime Minister’s office, Teach For Malaysia, Petronas and Ideas while they were in Malaysia.

Upon returning to the United States, the trekkers will document their experience, lessons learnt and insights in a joint publication.

In a continuous effort to partner with the world’s leading institutions to bring world-class education to Malaysia, Sunway Education Group played hosts to the trekkers during their stay here.

Sunway Education Group also recently established two Jeffrey Cheah Professorships at Harvard University and the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Research on South-East Asia in association with Sunway University, following the gift of USD6.2mil (RM20.6mil) to Harvard University by the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.

For more information on the programme, visit

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