Nelson traveled to Mexico as part of the MIT Inter-national Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), which enables students to spend three to 12 months in labs and offices around the world. Last year, this urban studies and planning student worked as a transportation planner for the Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico City, where he helped to evaluate a bus rapid transit system.
“One thing I was made aware of was how political everything is,” Nelson says. “The most important thing I learned is to contextualize the experience and talk to people. Even the most simple tasks cannot be conducted without great care. It was a great opportunity.”
Those lessons are precisely what Sun wants MIT students to learn by working in other countries, especially if they are to become future world leaders. It is why he and his wife, Rosina, through the Anthony and Rosina Sun Fund, ensure that MIT students experience working abroad.
“Over the last two to three decades, I’ve gotten the perspective that being the best engineer alone is insufficient to educate world leaders, unless they have a broader view of what the world around them is like,” Sun says. “An internship abroad would have a great impact on future global leaders.”
Growing up in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and then coming to the United States to attend MIT, Sun benefited from experiencing life in more than one country. At MIT, he studied electrical engineering, earning a bachelor’s and a master’s in 1974, before attending business school and embarking on a career in venture capital. Today he is a managing general partner of Venrock Associates in Menlo Park, Calif.
“I believe every student should have experience abroad,” Sun says. “To stay competitive, you need that perspective.”