Connecting and nurturing intelligent minds with Mensa

Mark Ryan Raj
Mensa members from all over the world gathered at Hilton Kuala Lumpur last weekend to share and exchange ideas during the annual International Board of Directors Meeting. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Mensa Society

PETALING JAYA, Oct 17 — Identifying and fostering intelligence.

That’s the goal of Mensa International, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world.

And that’s precisely what it aims to achieve every year when brainiacs from all over the world convene for the International Board of Directors Meeting (IBD).

This year, the IBD was hosted by the Malaysian Mensa Society for the first time since 1994 at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur from October 10 to 13.

“To host a second time was a great experience as we were able to bring together our volunteers far better than we did the first time,” Malaysian Mensa Chairman Tan Kee Aun said to Malay Mail.

 “Some even flew in from Sarawak for one day just to volunteer,”

Malaysian Mensa chairman Tan Kee Aun said that he was very proud of his charter’s dedication as the IBD and its accompanying events were a success. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Mensa Society

“This shows what Mensa is all about, the connection between members, using intelligence as a society to its full potential.

“A spark can be bright, but together it is a fire that lights up the night.”

The IBD brings together all Mensa members or “Mensans” from around the world, for a weekend of sharing and exchanging ideas on how to improve the society’s presence and efficiency in each region.

Apart from the meetings, there are also various activities and events for Mensans and the general public to participate in, like the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, Mensa International Treasure Hunt 2019, Mensa International Volunteers Network and the Inaugural Mensa International Youth Festival.

“We are the first country to host the youth festival,” said Tan.

“We used the format from the math festival as a framework to help students from around the world, to explore and enjoy problem-solving activities.”

Youths are guided by Mensa members as they take part in problem-solving activities during the Inaugral Mensa International Youth Festival. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Mensa Society

He added that events such as the youth festival and Julia Robinson math festival aim to develop the skills of gifted youths and enable to achieve their full potential.

“These activities are done with the hopes that at the end of it, develop their skills like how to use their intelligence in a social setting and work together with others to solve problems,” said Tan.

“The special part is that most of these children are very gifted, so problem-solving is done at a different level, when you put people of high intelligence and giftedness together, their full potential can be realised.”

He added that the public response for their events was excellent because Malaysia does not have a “solid and clear” structure to identify and nurture gifted children.

Some of the child participants at the Youth Festival working together to complete complex puzzles. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Mensa Society

“The public was excited because, in order to nurture a gifted child, parents would have them go for tuition, extra classes, accelerated learning classes, ballet or 75 other classes in the hopes that they can find their best potential,” said Tan.

“Sometimes the kids are put under pressure, or their parents are not fully equipped to meet the needs of their child, which is why our presence in Malaysia is of the utmost importance because we are best positioned to seek out and foster human intelligence.”

Tan, 32, also mentioned that the Treasure Hunt was more of a way to get his fellow Mensans to connect and enjoy exploring the sights of Kuala Lumpur, in an “Amazing Race” style hunt for clues around the city.

The Mensa International Volunteer Network is partially similar to the IBD, where Mensans from around the globe gather to share their strategies, ideas and solutions for problems they have faced, in the hopes that other charters can copy them to improve their own.

Tan expressed that he was very proud that his Mensans were given the opportunity to host such a momentous gathering, especially since this year marks the 35th anniversary of the Malaysian Mensa Society which was established in 1984.

The Malaysian Mensa Society was first established 35 years ago by Royal Selangor head Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Mensa Society

But they weren’t given the chance to do so on a whim, as Mensa International chairman Bjorn Liljeqvist, 44, said that they were selected because of their dedication and attention to detail.

“I wasn’t there when the decision was made because I’ve only been chairman for three months, but having seen the organisation of it, the meticulousness and the dedication of the volunteers, I’m sure it was visible when they put in their bid,” said Liljeqvist.

“I can’t rule out the possibility that Malaysia is a very nice place to visit, with amazing food, nature and cities, I visited eight years ago and liked it very much and now I like it even more.”

Mensa International chairman Bjorn Liljeqvist said Mensa is more than just a platform to identify and foster intelligence, as it also acts as a social platform for its members.

Having been a Mensan for 28 years, ever since he was 15 years old, Liljeqvist said that intelligence is too valuable to go to waste and that it was their duty and mission to help society identify and enable such intelligence so that something good can come of it.

“Intelligence does not always look the way you think it does, there are many intelligent people who don’t know they have talent because no one has told them or they haven’t been given the right stimulants and education that they need,” he said.

“Intelligence is a natural resource, just like the tin deposits in Malaysia, as long as it’s in the ground it’s useless, so like intelligence, it has to be fostered, nurtured, cultivated and connected.

“It’s when you connect the dots, connect the people, that something amazing can happen.”

If you’re interested to identify your talent and foster your intelligence at the Malaysian Mensa, which is one of the fastest-growing Mensa’s in the world with 1016 members, you can take the admissions test at

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