Now in its eighth consecutive year, the annual Pan-Asia Reunion is one of the largest gatherings of Michigan alumni outside of the U.S. every year. Choon-Peng Ng, MBA’04, one of the members of the original planning group and lifelong Michigan supporter, talks about how the event has grown and changed over the years.
In 2010, I invited a group of the 2004 MBA class over to Singapore because we hadn’t seen each other in quite some time. About 17 of us got together and spent a weekend in Singapore seeing the sites. By the second night, we were all sitting down to dinner and I said, “This has been so much fun, we should do this every year!” We wanted to get more of the Michigan community involved and be inclusive of all alumni, so we chose to change the city and hold the following year’s gathering in Shanghai.
We went from less than 20 people in the first year to 70 people in the second year. From there, the Pan-Asia Reunion really began to take shape. That year, the Michigan band was playing in Shanghai and we managed to schedule our event for the same weekend. Our group went to the concert hall to see the band and we all sang “Hail to the Victors” together. That year we were able to talk with Steve Grafton, president of the Alumni Association, about coordinating our event with the Alumni Association’s annual visit to Asia. The next year we were able to hold both events congruently in Seoul.
After the third annual Pan-Asia Reunion in Seoul in 2012, where we had several overlapping events, we thought, “Why don’t we combine forces and have one big event for everyone?” That’s when the true collaboration between us and the Alumni Association began. At that time, a group of alumni in Taiwan decided they wanted to host a symposium that would be more than a social event, more than sightseeing, but an event that would have topics of discussion that we were passionate about. At first it was a very modest conference with a single panel of speakers followed by a dinner, but we got a lot of great feedback.
By the time we hit Hong Kong in 2013, there were multiple sessions with multiple panels over the course of the day. The Hong Kong event also marked the establishment of the Pan-Asia Scholarship. The addition of the university’s support at that time really added another dimension of sophistication to the event—you have the various deans and department heads contributing with their presence, which takes the whole thing to another level. In Singapore in 2014, we even had ministers from two countries, Singapore and Indonesia, which was very special for that year.
The subsequent events continued to grow from there, and now we’re into the eighth year, which we expect to be the biggest event yet. The number of alumni in Shanghai, and the many more across Asia that travel to the area frequently, we look forward to a very successful event this year.
Looking back, I think the common thread throughout these events is the Michigan spirit. This is something that we all look forward to every year. We kindle old ties and we make new friends. We share a common heritage, we get updates on Ann Arbor from the faculty, and we remember how Michigan has changed our lives.
This feeling is something we want to pay forward by contributing to the Pan-Asia Scholarship fund. While we’re so happy to know that thousands of students are walking the halls of the university every year, there is a burden in our hearts to see students who really wish to study at Michigan, but are unable to do so due to the financial burden. With Asia being an emerging part of the world, we hope to be able to help these deserving students to realize their dream, the dream that we’ve lived and the one they aspire towards. This is truly the heart of the scholarship.
My fellow alumni and I look forward to another wonderful Pan-Asia Reunion this year in Shanghai, and we hope to see you there!
For more information on the Pan-Asia Reunion, including how to register, click here.
This content was produced by the Office of University Development.