Twelve students swapped the prestige and privilege of Harvard University for an up close glimpse into the lives of Hong Kong's most vulnerable residents as part of an exchange programme last week. The students met asylum seekers and people from ethnic minorities at Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, and helped out at a shelter for the homeless. The students, part of the Harvard College in Asia Programme, were taking part in a nine-day exchange conference at the University of Hong Kong. Students from both universities met people from ethnic minorities and asylum seekers at the Christian Action centre. They visited the Home of Love of the Missionaries of Charity at Shum Shui Po, where they served meals and helped clean the shelter. It may have been far removed from the Harvard students' campus - one of the world's most exclusive educational settings - but they said the exchange helped them learn more about Hong Kong culture. 'We feel like we have really gotten to experience Hong Kong - its people, its grassroots, food, culture, perspectives, everything,' said Priya Gupta, a second year anthropology student. Stephanie Hon, a third-year East Asian Studies student, said the programme was a great opportunity for students from all academic backgrounds. 'Those interested in business can make networking contacts, and those interested in political science can engage in heated discussions about the one-country, two-systems policy.' In February, 10 HKU students went to Harvard for two weeks.