By: Lyda NGIN, Cambodia
The Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Summit has finished, yet our journeys have just begun. The expeditions to bring hope, smile, happiness and peace to our people, communities and nations.
September 11, 2016: From the very first trip to the United States till the second trip to Luang Prabang, YSEALI has always been something unforgettable to me as well as other members. Additionally, to the knowledge strengthening and building network around Southeast Asia, this fellowship program has opened our eyes and mind on how the world is working and giving us opportunity to exploring our passion, compassion and capability from the inside out. In other word, YSEALI is a life changing program, to us and continue spreading like the mushrooms to our societies.
Once again, I was extremely amazed to join the YSEALI summit in Luang Pranbang, together with approximately 180 academic and the professional fellows from ten countries in SEA. My heart melted with respect after the conversations with the different people there. Everyone has the special story that urge them to start doing their work. One of a story I was shared and I truly appreciated it was the goat raising project called “Telecom Food”. Chan Samai, 25 years old from Vientiane, won the Unified project during the summit, has been running this project with her team in collaboration with the local authority for about four years already. In 2013, the team started the project with only 60 goats. Now they are having 300 goats for future investment, while hundreds of people in several communities are now the owners of at least two goats in each family. Her very first intention was undeniably simply, she wanted the people in the communities having meat to eat because it was very hard for them to get meat. Other example that inspiring me was the dialog between the two talented Cambodian ladies from the Academic Fellow, Sea Lyhoung and Sok Sopheakpanha. Both are very fascinated on women empowerment. Each individual has their own problem they want to solve. While Lyhoung’s goal is to work with the women garment factory workers to improve their leadership ability in leading union and decision making, Panha is indeed very much interested in improving the condition of women mentality, as she identified numbers of Cambodian females are facing this issue, regarding their confidence, independence, abusing and bullying. These inspiration stories made me feel, “I am not alone.” Their potentials and wills are making the community anticipations becoming possible and achievable. Undoubtedly, there are many more talented and committed youth who are working hard at the moment. However, we would never know and be able to sharing one another experiences till we come together in this program. This program is actually the message that hope is here in front us and WE CAN MAKE IT.
I was not being picked for the questions by the President Barak Obama. Nevertheless, I am satisfied to see participants from the representative countries had the chance to raise their questions. I believe they have learned a great knowledge and understanding from Mr. Obama responding. I could see how excited they were to see and get a direct communication with him. One among all the significant answers was the future of the YSEALI. To some of us, who did experience it, we could witness how great the program is, and we wish many more youth from the SEA having the same opportunities. We were glad to learn Mr. Obama is committed to the program and pretty much willing to get involved even after his president term. I love to hear the answer because YSEAL, which was initiated three years ago by him, has made our dreams come true. The dream to be somebody, to visit United States; to talk with the USA president, and to becoming the helpful individuals to their nations.
Another fascinated point was the concept of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (SD). This perception has been long existing. Though, the genuine practicing seems facing high obstacle because SD requires time, human resources, and financial resources. What I’ve noticed and admired is his smart vision to see and fix the world problems in the future. So far, to me, Mr. Obama is the only person who could visibly define the meaning of “Sustainable Development” and made the solution happened. It’s the YSEALI! He has, unquestionably, stated the world problem, figured out an ultimate objective, defined the inputs and activities to bring out the real impacts. That is why YSEALI becoming successful each year and remain active. YSEALI is the SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.
As I’ve cited, ending of YSEALI Summit is just the beginning of our journeys to make peace for our community . Every one of us still have a long way to go, a lot of work to do and a great effort to give because through this program we have seek the potential we have the ambitious to reach. The world, particularly, SEA is smaller to us now that we can easily communicate, approach and reach for each other support in just a glance.
In my perspective, YSEALI is not a program that give us fish to eat but it is indeed teaching us how to get the fish, so you can survive by yourself and help your community in the future.