The globe trotter‘s journal: Lessons from Tatra Tiger
WE are ever so connected today, with technology and infrastructures that allow us to travel, exchange ideas and discover new experiences with ease across borders.
Globetrotters like myself are fuelled by adrenaline for adventure, cheaper transportation and easier access to information via the Internet.
So, accompanied by fellow youth leaders, I travelled to the Hungarian border. We wanted to visit neighbouring Slovakia, just across the Tisza river.
During the two-hour drive from the capital city, we witnessed a change of landscape, with more medieval buildings and remnants of ancient Hungary welcoming us along the long winding highway.
I was to meet some youth leaders to learn more about the history of booming Slovakia, now widely regarded as the Tatra Tiger and one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union.
The word Tatra is derived from a mountainous region in Slovakia, while tiger implies the aggressiveness of its people. As a country which harnesses the growth of its economy from the services and manufacturing sectors, it would be an eye-opening experience to study the methods that raised it into the advanced economy it is today.
I was welcomed by the youth leaders at a town across a green iron bridge, built between the borders of Hungary and Slovakia.
I learnt of the country’s struggle in the early days and how it transformed its economy to focus on developing highly skilled and globally competitive talent.
Backed by public transformation policies and an aggressive drive to grow, the capital city of Bratislava had risen to become a commercial hub in the EU.
It is also a cultural capital, where medieval castles, folklore and ancient caves and landscapes colour the environment.
Education is Slovakia’s main thrust, with the country keeping an eye on requirements from booming industries in the EU. The curriculum is drawn up to meet the demand for specialised skills.
Students are sent across the EU to hone their expertise before returning to contribute to their home country.
Slovakia is connected to its neighbours through highways and high-speed railways that allow local enterprises to move their products and services across borders easily.
Businesses are encouraged to go regional and offer competitive pricing to other EU countries.
Despite adopting the euro as currency, cost of living is low and attracts investors.
With a culture of respecting elders, youth leaders look up to Slovakian icons who have placed their country on the global map.
The youth leaders are reminded to portray themselves in the most positive image. When they shared stories about Slovakia, I was inspired by their passion.
But I am also reminded that Malaysians are not very different. From the calls of Malaysia Boleh! to the current economic and government transformation plans, we too have transformed the country into a booming economy.
Now we have to do our part to maintain our country’s stability and contribute to the growth of society and the nation.