Harvard Taiwan Leadership Conference

Yesterday I met up with some college friends who had just come back from the Harvard Taiwan Leadership Conference (HTLC). Listening to their stories about the conference this year made me sad to have missed it and gave me a desire to reminisce and write something about it.

HTLC is a week-long program that sends Harvard undergraduates to Taiwan to teach high school students ways of working effectively as a team, cultivating strong leadership principles, and recognizing the importance of social change. From small group discussions and extracurricular activities to public speaking and debate workshops, HTLC fosters an open environment of dialogue and learning among teachers, teaching assistants, students and volunteers. In my opinion this kind of exchange is the best part about the conference. We try to bring together a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds with various experiences, and the interactions and relationships formed are often rich and meaningful.

Here are some pictures from this year’s conference that I took from the HTLC Facebook page:

Small group discussions.

Our awesome teachers this year.

HTLC 2010!

I guess I would consider HTLC as my first venture into social entrepreneurship. Founded in 2008, HTLC has a vision of improving the education system for students in Taiwan. Because I was born in Taiwan, I identify strongly with its people, customs and lifestyle and I travel back every year to see family and friends. Growing up and seeing my cousins go through the education system in Taiwan has always been a point of interest to me and has made me compare that with my own education experience in the US. From what I knew, education in Taiwan was solely based on taking exams, whether it was an exam in school or to get into college. When I was younger I used to admire my cousins’ ability to memorize everything in school for an exam, from vocabulary words to math equations, and to a certain degree my parents subjected me to all of that as well.

But I began to recognize the limitation of learning by rote memorization for the sake of exams. Because I was subjected to a bit of that system as well, I personally felt that I lacked in critical and creative thinking compared to many of my classmates growing up. I’ve learned from talking to students in Taiwan that this education system discourages critical expression and extracurricular interests. My interest in Taiwan and this issue of education led me to start HTLC with a few of my friends. We all knew friends and family who had gone or are going through the education system in Taiwan and similarly felt a desire to give back to a society we still relate to as Taiwanese Americans.

Three years ago, HTLC 2008.

Through organizing and participating in HTLC, I feel that I have learned so much from the people I’ve worked with, both at Harvard and in Taiwan. It has taught me to be patient and to really value and appreciate the team of people you are working with. To everyone I’ve worked with for the past three years on HTLC, thank you for believing in our vision of improving education in Taiwan! Our modest start will hopefully continue thriving into the future. Now onward to HTLC 2011…

For more information about HTLC, you can check out our website or contact me.

One Response to “Harvard Taiwan Leadership Conference”
  1. jaxie says:

    best teamwork EVER! miss you guys!

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