My experience at Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR)

What is HPAIR?
The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR), is a recognized student-run organization of the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences. HPAIR organizes Harvard University’s largest annual student conferences in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since 1991, HPAIR has continuously gathered a growing pool of international students from top universities, renowned academics, business professionals, and political leaders to engage in our rigorous educational events. It offers a forum of exchange to facilitate discussion of the most important economic, political, and social issues relevant to the Asia-Pacific region. Past speakers at our conferences include former President of the Republic of Korea and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kim Dae-Jung, Governor General of Australia Peter Hollingworth, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, President of Singapore S.R. Nathan, former United States Ambassador to Japan John Thomas Schieffer, and former President of Goldman Sachs Philip Murphy.

The venue for the HPAIR 2018 (by Harvard University) Opening Ceremony- The Carcosa Seri Negara, served as the temporary official residence for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of England.


The experience I had at HPAIR was unique and satisfying. Not only did I meet people from different geographies and understood some part of their cultural and academic excellence but I got a chance to interact with the eminent speakers and the hostile organizing members. The ambiance around every place and event was both learning and fun-filled. It is a perfect getaway for someone who is looking to expand their reach of network or even for someone seeking a hideaway from their busy life and pour themselves with a splash of a party-like atmosphere. The events were organized in such a perfect manner that it was never a taste of too much involvement into the academia or playfulness but an air of freshness and enjoyment.

I met a lot of youngsters from different parts of India and I, in no time, got acquainted with them just like those from Pakistan and Nepal.

It was when I received a message on my Instagram, after posting a picture in his city, from a fellow HPAIR delegate, after three months of the event, I realized the kind of relationship/ network that I built during the conference. After such a long time, this fellow delegate took time to welcome me to his city. It felt satisfying to hear such words from people who you think are strangers, but they do not end up to be.

Not only HPAIR offered me a chance to get in touch with the fellow delegates but I got a chance to interact with the professors of the hosting university (this was not a part of their schedule). After five months of the event, I am still in touch with one of the excellent professors that I interacted with, in Kuala Lumpur. All it took for me, was to go to their information desk and ask about a meeting. I sent emails to the relevant professors and the next day; I got a phone call from one of the delegates that my name is being called by someone local; someone was asking for me in an unknown country/city. When I rushed to that place, I realized that it was one of the professors whom I sent an email the previous day.

All these experiences make me realize the importance of asking for things, plainly and professionally.

Also read:
How I crowdfunded the amount to attend HPAIR conference by Harvard University

It is often hard to imagine yourself in a new country with a bunch of strangers but isn’t that a straightforward way to figure out how to tackle hard or unknown situations.

If we don’t push ourselves out of our cocoon, how do we get to fly?

“With the world becoming a global village, and with national destinies more closely intertwined, a better understanding of each other’s different perspectives will be crucial. For much will depend on what you and your generation do as you take your positions in society in later years. I am hopeful that many of you will attain high positions in society as each one of you has been endowed with gifts of intellectual or personal leadership.”
– His Excellency SR Nathan
(President of Singapore)