Harvard President Larry Bacow told an alumni audience, following on the heels of the first-ever gathering of Harvard international alumni leaders in Amsterdam, that the goal of lifting the global community will be accomplished through commitment to facing global challenges and, perhaps more commonly, to addressing concerns closer to home.
“If you look around the world — and tonight is a great example — you find Harvard alumni who are actively involved in making the world a better place, in each and every community and country in which they are located,” Bacow said during a Saturday evening event hosted by the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) and the Harvard Club of the Netherlands. “As citizens of Harvard, but more importantly as citizens of our communities around the world, we each have to look for ways to try to make this imperfect, sometimes challenging, sometimes maddening, often difficult world a better place. Sometimes that’s by devoting one’s life to public service, but often it’s by helping just one person to lead a better life.”
Bacow’s visit coincided with the HAA’s International Leadership Workshop, which took place throughout the weekend and which drew more than 150 volunteers who run local and regional clubs and shared interest groups (or SIGs) spanning six continents. Those alumni, along with about 100 other local alumni, attended the Saturday evening event with the president.
Laura Birkman, M.P.A. ’12, president of the Harvard Club of the Netherlands, said in her welcome to the workshop that every School was represented at the session and attendees included graduates from the classes of 1970 through 2017. Birkman, whose work for the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies overseers a range projects in the fields of security and defense, described her Club’s cultural, academic, and social programming as “a way to provide a community platform that brings a little bit of Harvard to the Lowlands.”
Harvard’s nearly 62,000 international alumni live in some 202 countries around the globe. The weekend workshop provided opportunities for alumni to learn from each other’s experiences — to build on leadership and organizational skills and learn new approaches, share resources, and exchange ideas for addressing challenges and opportunities.