On February 17, SAI Executive Director Meena Hewett spoke at the annual Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Conference held at Harvard University and the Ritz-Carlton in Boston. By bringing together student delegates from all over the country, the conference allowed attendees to engage on pertinent issues concerning the Asia region, including business leadership, entrepreneurship, health, and media through plenary sessions, panel sessions, seminars, and case-studies.
After learning about the many issues facing Asia at the conference, Hewett’s discussion at the closing ceremony about SAI’s work provided delegates with relevant examples of how an organization situated within an academic institution can capitalize on its intellectual resources and contribute to the countries and people where it makes an impact.
Speaking to a crowd of around 250 delegates at the closing ceremony of the conference, Hewett explained the South Asia Institute’s role of building, catalyzing and nurturing relationships between faculty, students and experts on the ground. Hewett explained that SAI is able to serve as a platform to bring these stakeholders together so that their knowledge can inform each other. She shared examples of a few of SAI’s current multidisciplinary projects in the areas of disaster management and mental health, urbanization, water, mobile technology and more, that cut across South Asia and has gained momentum at Harvard.
Based on the scope of the conference and the attendance of the event, it is clear that there were many people in the room doing great work and research on issues important to Asia’s development, but what is sometimes lacking is the ability to execute this knowledge with partners on the ground who can make a difference. Hewett said she sees the South Asia Institute’s approach to connecting Harvard and South Asia relevant to connecting with all of Asia as well.