This is the first installment of our Alumni Bios. These interviews were started with the intent that alumni and current staff members get a better idea of where our alumni are and what they are doing in their post-college, post-HCAP lives.
We have inaugurated this series with an interview with our last president, Yi Wei, Harvard Class of 2010.
Which years were you involved with HCAP?
The best 4 years of my extracurricular life!
What was your concentration?
Social Studies (or as I told potential employers – an interdisciplinary social science field with a focus on social and political theory)
Where did you go with HCAP?
Halfway around the world, 4 times — Year 1: All over Malaysia with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (and then hopped over to Singapore for a few days); Year 2: Delhi, Agra, and remote villages with Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (and stayed a few extra days to see Jaipur); Year 3: Tokyo and Nagoya with University of Tokyo (they exhausted me by the end of the week so I went back with the group); Year 4: Istanbul with Bosphorus University (stayed longer to see Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Ephesus)
What are you doing now? Where are you now?
I am currently on a traveling fellowship (get one! It’s really awesome) working for an NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia called International Development Enterprises (IDE). I work on all kinds of projects such as helping them develop a media for the water and sanitation program, help research waste treatment options, and even helping design a business plan to start a design incubation lab.
Here is a link to a video that Yi recently developed discussing waste treatment and its impact on development.
How did HCAP influence your career/ life plans (I know it did…)?
Before college, I never left the US (except being born in China, which really wasn’t my choice and going to Canada for a Model UN trip in high school…which some might argue the validity of an “international” experience…) So when I got the college, I made it my mission to see the world, and HCAP was the most attractive option. HCAP really cares about fostering meaningful, lasting relationships with its emphasis on a holistic approach to exchange. How can you not develop great friendships when you’re living, breathing, and discovering the world with someone for a whole week straight?! I’ve met up with many HCAP friends all over the world. Just recently, my Turkish friends and I met up in Istanbul for doners on my Silk Road tour into Asia. This week, I’m going to meet up with a friend from IIT Delhi at the Angkor Wat Half Marathon. Not only has HCAP given me access to a privileged view of the world through the eyes of our international peers, HCAP has also helped me develop lasting friendships that transcend borders.
What languages do you speak?
Tough one. English–Fluently; Mandarin–Fluently, but the locals know immediately that I grew up in the US; Spanish–Conversationally–Enough to retell the latest Telenovela episode without too much confusion; French–Basic–Enough to find the bathroom and ask for directions; Latin and Ancient Greek–Recitative
If you could give a student a piece of advice the first day of freshman year, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to ask a girl or guy to coffee/tea. It will make the rest of the Harvard experience much more interesting. And also – get out of Harvard Square…at least once a semester. It’ll help preserve your sanity.
What was your favorite HCAP Trip?
Oooo, that’s like asking who’s your favorite child.