The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unforeseen pandemonium. One Turlocker, Henna Hundal, is on a mission to change that. The Turlock High and Harvard College alum is bringing world leaders together to cooperate on pandemic policy solutions.
Hundal is the co-founder of the Bridging Borders Project, an online program featuring interviews with 40 heads of state and government, among other experts. Global leaders that have joined the project for interviews include the likes of Thomas Greminger (the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), Lotay Tshering (the Prime Minister of Bhutan), Nicos Anastasiades (the President of Cyprus), and George Vella (the President of Malta).
“It’s been an invaluable experience to speak with leaders about how they’re tackling the COVID- 19 crisis in their respective countries as well as how they’re coordinating with neighbors to stem the spread regionally,” says Hundal.
One example that Hundal cites for this coordination is the President of Tibet, Lobsang Sangay, who described working with the Indian government to extend health services to Tibetans in his interview for the Bridging Borders Project. Hundal underscores this case as an illustration of how pragmatic policy must meet innovation to bring the pandemic to a close.
“From our conversations with these leaders, it’s become clear that a challenge as expansive as the pandemic cannot be sufficiently managed without an expanded perspective on good governance,” she says. “In times like this, good governance means working with each other.”
Hundal met her co-host for the project, Sai Rajagopal, while they were both undergraduates at Harvard College. Rajagopal’s interest in the project derives from his time studying the pandemic’s effects in his home country of Canada.
“When international students were instructed by colleges to move back home, I started comparing how Canada and the U.S. were approaching the pandemic differently,” says Rajagopal. “This project makes it possible to think critically about these differences and encourage legislators to draw inspiration from the policies that have worked.”
Both Hundal and Rajagopal agree that the Bridging Borders Project offers hope that the world can successfully find its way to the other side of this crisis.
“Although we’re facing challenging times right now, seeing how a number of countries have stepped up is an encouraging sign,” says Rajagopal. “If we can continue to foster these policy conversations between leaders, we have a chance at putting the worst of this crisis behind us.”
Individuals interested in the Bridging Borders Project can follow the initiative on Instagram @bridgingbordersproject and on Twitter at @bridgingproject.