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5 Experiences Only CALumni Understand

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5 Experiences Only CALumni Understand

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by Lydia Cheah

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#5. You will describe the Teaching Fellows as awe-inspiring, extraordinary, and motivating sans exaggeration

I still vividly remember how I felt when Rajan Patel started his talk in a hall packed with eager and open ears. I listened intently as he spoke about his journey from Stanford University to India, where he and his team took on the challenge of designing an incubator for babies, the award-winning Embrace Warmer, which costs less than 1% of a regular incubator and has saved the lives of over 200,000 babies.

Rajan’s passion ignited a surge of determination in me to think beyond the norm and create something outstanding in the world, wherever and whatever I ended up doing. It is unbelievable to have the opportunity to learn from such accomplished people who have saved lives, led counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistanadvised European Finance Ministers during the Global Financial Crisis, and reinvented the way young musicians are educated. And I’ve not even mentioned the Harvard professors, one of which teaches Harvard Kennedy School’s most influential frameworks on leadership—Adaptive Leadership.

Click here to learn more about the Center’s Teaching Network!

#4. You are given a safe space to fail openly—but learn quickly

The program I attended in 2014 (and in future programs to come) required participants to prepare for a compulsory speech competition. Like many others, I did not feel entirely comfortable with the idea. Each day, we gathered together and Teaching Fellow John Lee had a session on persuasion and the power of story. We then separated into groups and guided one another to create our best speech possible. We’d write, give feedback, joke, ask for opinions, re-write, give the speech, and repeat, until we were comfortable with what we had.

We subconsciously created an exceptionally safe space for ourselves to freely make mistakes and get back up with pride. As one past participant put it, “the environment (is one) in which everyone is willing to be emotionally vulnerable”, and as one article puts it, “If learning happens through trial and error, then you need to try, and more importantly, you need to err.”

#3. Choosing a workshop topic will be one of the biggest challenges

Design ThinkingThe Art of Communication, Startup Garage, The Practice of NegotiationGlobal Change Agents—I struggled to choose from these topics among others and I will be frank, from the new fantastic topics to be offered this year, you will too.

We’re talking about learning skills that are never directly taught in the typical school or institute, thought-provoking talks that make you ponder on what never before crossed your mind, as well as realizations to doubts and questions you’ve always had.

The Center’s programs are designed to address leadership challenges that you are facing whether you are a high school student that is aiming to get into a top university, a college or university student preparing for the workforce, or a working professional expected to lead a change initiative.

#2. You are taught Harvard style

So we’ve gone through the intriguing learning material. But how is it taught?

  • Sticky notes, everywhere
  • Running around 
  • Reflecting Challenges 
  • Questioning each other 
  • Fast feedback.

The Center’s programs are designed to fully utilize the most innovative teaching methods taught at Harvard UniversityStanford University, as well as Philips Exeter Academy, among others.

Creativity, curiosity, and opinions are deeply valued during the programs’ interactive workshops and mentoring sessions—a massive step away from the traditional classroom setting.

#1. You will be fed, all-day, every day

It doesn’t matter if you are vegetarian or not. You can’t learn on an empty stomach, and the Center understands that better than any other educational organization out there. Particularly for the programs in Malaysia, there will be a diverse variety of great food—from Chinese, Indian, to Malay.

So prepare to be fed.

We are always pleased to hear about our alumni’s achievements and would love to keep in touch. Please do let us know of any accomplishments in which you believe we have helped, we’d love to hear from you!

The Center for Asia Leadership can be contacted at cali@asialeadership.org or +603 7491 8717.

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