Trekkers Journey into Second Leg of ALT Winter 2017

by Michelle S Lee & Ida Fazila

Last winter, twenty-two brilliant minds from the apex of postgraduate study – Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School, and the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management – embarked on the Asia Leadership Trek (ALT) 2017, an experiential learning journey through six countries and seven cities in Asia.

Throughout the one-month program, the scholars or Trekkers met with leaders of varying cultures, communities, and ages in a formidable schedule, and were exposed to valuable insight to Asia and invaluable experience from key leaders in an array of different contexts.

Malaysia marked the midpoint of the Trek; Trekkers began their Malaysian experience with a full day of culture in Malaysia’s northern state of Penang. In the morning, they participated in a session on the local heritage and business. They later paid a courtesy visit to Prof. Dr. P. Ramasamy Palanisamy, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II who gave the Trekkers an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing Penang. Penang, also known as the Pearl of the Orient is rich in culture, heritage, and unique architecture. In the afternoon, the Trekkers had a cultural visit to the famous Khoo Kongsi clanhouse, followed by a presentation on Penang’s tourism, art, and education and medical industries.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Prof. Dr. P. Ramasamy Palanisamy, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II briefing the Trekkers on challenges and opportunities facing Penang.

The Trekkers then kicked it into high gear the next day with the Penang Asia Leadership Conference 2017, hosted by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). The half-day Conference consisted of a TED Talk, workshops, professional development sessions, and career mentoring with high school, college, and university students up north. Besides taking part in engaging activities with the students, the Trekkers held a roundtable meeting with USM’s senior leadership to exchange views on the status and trends of education in Malaysia and other parts of the world. Still, the Trekkers found energy to round off their Penang visit with a tour of Hin Bus Depot, a former bus depot that has been converted into an art center. There, the Trekkers spent a relaxing afternoon participating in a charcoal drawing workshop, followed by coffee and cakes.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Students participating in a workshop at the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Trekkers taking part in a roundtable meeting with Universiti Sains Malaysia’s senior leadership at the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Penang.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Trekkers trying their hand at charcoal drawing at Hin Bus Depot art center.

After cultural Penang, came metropolitan Kuala Lumpur. The Trekkers left Penang the next morning and were feted to lunch, hosted by Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed, Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry. The Trekkers enjoyed a robust discussion with Datuk Seri Mustapha about current issues affecting Malaysia’s international trade and economic growth particularly U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its effects on Malaysia’s economy. They later went to Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform, to partake in a dialogue entitled “Transforming How Millions are Traveling: Building a Disruptive Business in Southeast Asia” with Ms. Wan Khye Theng, Head of Operations at Grab. The Trekkers called it a night with a generous dinner at the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, hosted by Datuk Muhammad Khairun Aseh, the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Political Secretary.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed, Malaysia’s Minister International Trade and Industry (standing) explaining to the Trekkers about the country’s international trade and economic development.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Trekkers listening to a presentation at Grab in Kuala Lumpur.

The Trekkers had a busy schedule the following day, beginning with a morning meeting with Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional Berhad to discuss the strategic investment fund of the Malaysian Government’s role in supporting the country’s long-term economic aspiration. Khazanah hosted a sumptuous lunch for the Trekkers before they made their way to the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. There, they met with Mr. Edgard Kagan, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, who spoke about the bilateral relationships between the two countries, and Mr. Nathaniel Turner Counselor, Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, who talked about the Embassy’s role in promoting economic relationships between Malaysia and the U.S.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional Berhad speaking to the Trekkers about Khazanah’s role in supporting Malaysia’s long-term economic aspiration.

The Trekkers had a packed day on their third day in Kuala Lumpur, imparting as much of their precious knowledge and experience they could at the Asia Leadership Conference 2017, themed “Becoming Asia’s Change Makers: Tools for Solving Problems and Overcoming Challenges.” Held at Sunway University, the Conference attracted its biggest participation ever with 1,000 bright young minds across Malaysia with the aim to cultivate and inspire the future leaders of tomorrow.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


One of the Trekkers conducting a lecture at the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

Continuing on, the next stop on the ALT 2017 was Seoul, Korea with an impressive line-up of meetings for the Trekkers. First, they met with Teach North Korean Refugees, a modest but vital organization founded by North Korean refugees to educate and support future North Korean refugees in their transition to a better life. Soon after that, the Trekkers were whisked away to meet Mr. Shim Jae-chul, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, followed by a tour of the National Assembly. After lunch, they visited CJ Entertainment and Creative Center for Convergence Culture, built to become the next generation hub of the Korean Wave. To wrap up their first day in Korea, the Trekkers had a presentation and discussion with Kim & Chang, Korea’s largest law firm, followed by a dinner and networking session with the firm.

The next day, the Trekkers experienced the unique relationship between North and South Korea when they toured the highly militarized Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). After lunch, the Trekkers headed to the Samsung Innovation Center, followed by a meeting with D. Camp or Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs, also known as Dream Bank, a non-profit organization that supports startup activities in Korea. After a month together, the Trekkers bid farewell to a few of their Trek mates over dinner as some would need to return to their studies earlier.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Mr. Shim Jae-chul, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (second from right) engaging the Trekkers during a meeting in Seoul.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Trekkers at the CJ Entertainment and Creative Center for Convergence Culture in Seoul.

The remaining trekkers then bundled up and headed for their final stop, Tokyo, Japan. To start with, the Trekkers had a meeting with Smart News, a media app that offers the fastest and most efficient way for people to get their news. After lunch, they visited Meiji Shrine before heading to the Nikkei, Nikkei Inc.’s flagship publication and the world’s largest financial newspaper, for a presentation and dialogue. The next morning, the Trekkers visited Riken, Japan’s biggest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific areas. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Kenji Tateiwa, Manager of Nuclear Power Programs at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Washington Office presented a case study of the Fukushima nuclear accident and shared his first-hand account of the unprecedented tragedy and lessons learned with the Trekkers.

Mr. Samuel Kim, Co-founder and President of the Center for Asia Leadership delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Asia Leadership Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.


Trekkers meeting with Mr. Kenji Tateiwa, Manager of Nuclear Power Programs at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Washington Office (fourth from left) in Tokyo.

The Trekkers attended a farewell dinner later that evening, marking the end of the eighth edition of the ALT. Thanks to the commitment of the talented Trekkers and hospitality of the global thought leaders of Asia, everyone had an enjoyable and unhindered month of intense educational exposure. We at the Center for Asia Leadership hope that all involved parties will come out of the Trek with more appreciation, aspiration, and motivation for a better Asia.

Till the next Trek!

2017-08-16T15:07:06+00:00