East Coast Trip Continues to Cambridge, MA: Towards the Good Life

East Coast Trip Continues to Cambridge, MA: Towards the Good Life

L-R: Dr. Danilo Petranovich (Abigail Adams Institute),  Gregg Tolentino (Universitas Foundation, Inc.), and Dr. Leonidas Zelmanovitz (Liberty Fund)

Cambridge, Massachusetts — After meeting various groups, non-profits, institutes, and families in New York, New Haven, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, Universitas Program Director Gregg Tolentino went back to New York for a short work period with the World Youth Alliance (WYA).

Gregg was welcomed by WYA President Lord Pomperada at the WYA Headquarters Office in Upper East Side Manhattan from August 1-5. During that time, he was able to review, proofread, and propose improvements in the updated version of WYA’s Toolkit for the Trainers of their Certificate Training Program. Incidentally, he was able to help in the onsite preparations for a fundraising activity that was held on August 4 at the office.

From New York, Gregg proceeded to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend the seminar Capital and the Good Life, where the theory of capital, wealth accumulation, morality, and the uses and abuses of wealth, among others, were discussed using a philosophical approach.

The seminar was headed by Dr. Leonidas Zelmanovitz, a Senior Fellow at the Liberty Fund. He has a law degree from the Federal University in Porto Alegre, Brazil and Master in Austrian Economics and PhD in Applied Economics degrees from the  Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. Likewise equipped with a strong background in raising capital through his business experience and calm demeanor, he was a perfect fit in facilitating the discussions throughout the thirteen sessions of the seminar. For Gregg, his participation in the seminar was an opportunity to gather insights on matters related to capital and capitalism. He commented:

Given all the perspectives shared during the seminar, I define Capital as the total value composed of money, property, and labor (time and ingenuity) allocated for productive use, ideally intended to gain profit. Since it is natural for a human being to care most for the people closest to him, the capital he owns will tend to be employed where the most personal benefits can be reaped to live the good life – the state of life where basic human physiological needs and welfare of himself and the people he care for are satisfied, such that there is time that can be spent on leisure worry-free. Pursuing greater wealth well beyond the good life I just described can be equivalent to taking what could have been allocated for other people’s pursuit of the good life.

After two to three sessions during the day, there were also scholar-practitioner sessions on the first, second, and fourth evenings. Dr. Plamen Nedeltchev, who has Master of Science in Computer Design (Saint Petersburg) and PhD in Networking and Communications degrees, and is a Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect of Cisco IT Borderless Networks and Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies, talked about the opportunities in the 4th Industrial Revolution, where artificial intelligence, big data, cloud, and IoT are seen to disrupt various industries. The participants were both optimistic and cautious in the possibilities these developments present – how can the balance between tech development and the fluorishing of the human being be maintained?

The second special session was with Mr. Michael Maibach, a seasoned corporate lobbyist and was an advisor to The Heritage Foundation, President and CEO of the European-American Business Council, and Vice President for Global Government Affairs at Intel. He shared anecdotes on his lobbying background and how it created an impact on the legal and regulatory support for the development of microchips in computers. He emphasized the importance of positioning industry needs in order for the private sector and the government to function harmoniously well.

The last dinner session was with Dr. James Murphy, who has Master of City Planning (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT) and PhD in Philosophy and Political Science (Yale University) degrees, and is now a Professor in the Government, Medieval and Renaissance Studies departments of Dartmouth College. He discussed a brief history of consumer activism in the context of Boston’s experience (tea dumping in the harbor and Harvard graduates wearing locally sown clothes), prompting the class to raise for discussion the modern day consumer behavior towards organic products, green lifestyle, and other products whose processes do not involve any inhumane activities.

During break times from the sessions, Gregg met with Cambridge-based institutes and individuals.

On Monday, August 6, he met with Dr. Danilo Petranovich of the Abigail Adams Institute (AAI), the host of the seminar held at Harvard University. Dr. Petranovich shares the vision of Universitas for the Philippines and its potential future leaders, and expressed his optimism and support for such vision. He shared, in turn, the initiatives that AAI takes beyond the summer courses they offer, especially for the student community at Harvard. The meeting went great for both parties. For Universitas, in particular, the Fellows Program has gained another prospective destination for its fellows, since AAI showed willingness to accommodate up to two Universitas Fellows in their summer courses with the participation fees waived.

The next two meetings Gregg had were with two Filipinos based in the City. First was with Dr. Juanchi Pablo, who is a research scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and afterwards, with Mia Lim-Jimenez, who is an incoming graduate student at the MIT. They agreed to help out by sharing Universitas to their respective networks, increasing the Foundation’s reach for potential donors.

Lastly, Gregg had the chance to meet with the group Optimal Work, which was housed just beside Harvard University. Dr. Kevin Majeres, MD, led the discussion on a principle which Optimal Work gives much emphasis on: That the meaning of our life is intimately linked with the meaning of our work, which depends on the meaning that we find in each one of our daily tasks. The mentoring framework that his group employs can be one that Universitas’ own mentoring program would draw inspiration from.

Beyond the seminar and the meetings, Gregg is grateful to have had the chance to meet and have exchanges with different people during the week.

The seminar’s participants came from different geographic as well as academic backgrounds: Gregg was the only Asian in the group, coming from the Philippines with an Economics background from De La Salle University in Manila; six were from the USA (Patrick, a seasoned lawyer and businessman; Gabby, an incoming freshman in Harvard; John Henry, from University of Notre Dame; Zoe, from the American University; Ben, who recently graduated from McGill University; and Jen, an incoming student at the American University); three from Brazil (Alessandro, an electrical engineer who works in an aviation company; Matheus, from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul; and Jose, who recently graduated law and has put up a non-profit that will specialize in education mentoring); three from Canada (Mario, an economics professor in Montreal; Charles, a history professor from McGill University; and Ella, a student from McGill University); two from Spain (Miguel, who has a finance background from Loyola University Chicago; and Noah, a recent high school graduate who intends to take up aerospace engineering); one from Montenegro (Nina, a PhD graduate from the University of Cambridge); one from Colombia (Marcela, from University of Toronto); one from Portugal (Eduardo, from Universita degli Studi di Bologna); and one from Venezuela (Jorge, a rising young leader of the Venezuelan Fight for Freedom).

L-R: Noah, Patrick, Gregg, Mario (back), Gabby, Alessandro, Ella, Marcela, Jorge, Nina, Eduardo, Charles, Miguel, Dr. Leonidas, John Henry, Dr. Petranovich, Matheus, Jose, Ben
Not in the photo: Zoe and Jen

The week ended with a dinner at Temple Bar near Harvard University.

Last Dinner at Temple Bar

The series of meetings with the various groups and persons mentioned, capped off the US roadshow set on by Universitas CEO Atty. Oliver Tuazon, CFO Dardecs Villanueva, and Gregg himself, at the beginning of the month of August. With the several relations forged through these meetings, the Foundation looks forward to maintaining durable international linkages that would help it in its mission of forming the Philippines’ future leaders, who are competent, with stable moral character and well-formed conscience.

NOTA BENE: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and the speakers mentioned in the article, and not necessarily to the Foundation.

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