SSEAYP embarks on new journey

National 4 minutes, 5 seconds

MUARA

BRUNEI’S three decades of being a part of the Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAyP) produced numerous leaders now contributing to the country’s development.

Speaking during yesterday’s farewell event for the participants at the Muara Port, guest of honour the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar said: “ Over the past 30 years, nearly a thousand youth participated in the programme, some of whom I am happy to note have become senior members in the government and private sector.”

“ I am glad to know that many of them continue to remain active as leaders in youth and other volunteer associations,” he added.

The exchange programme, which has been carried out for the past 41 years, gathers young people with the objective of exchanging, understanding and cooperation, he said.

“For the Brunei Participating Youths, I’m hoping to see a more cheerful, happy and energetic and high-spirited version of you when you come back from the trip to further contribute to our nation,” the guest of honour urged the local contingent before the ship’s departure.

Brunei was made the first port of call for the 41st SSEAYP ship’s Nippon Maru to mark the 30th year of the Sultanate’s participation in the programme.

During the ceremony, family, friends and members of the audience were treated to an introduction of the ship’s administrator, national leaders and participating youths. Each contingent performed songs and cheered as they waved the flags of their countries.

The performances were then followed by a speech from a representative of Japan’s Participating Youth Masaki Nagao who said that the visit was beyond his expectations.

“This is my first time visiting Brunei and before this programme, my image of Brunei was very simple: oil and rich country. However I got to know that these words were not enough to describe Brunei.”

“I learned that the Brunei government and the people respect and preserve the traditional way of living. I also got to taste the local delicacy, Ambuyat and it was nyaman.”

He said that the overall experience expanded his knowledge and understanding of Brunei’s culture and tradition. He also expressed his appreciation to the Brunei government for the great hospitality.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Philippines’s Participating Youth, Christian C. Antiquiera said that it was a great experience to be in Brunei.

“It’s our first port of call and it already feels like our SSEAYP journey is complete. We’ve been through a lot of adventures with our foster families and the hospitality is very great.”

During the three-day stay, Christian said he had the opportunity to visit the national heritage of Brunei and also went trekking.

He added that he was surprised to see that Brunei is very rich when it comes to nature and not just in oil production.

“We also tried ambuyat which was the first food we tried here! It was a good experience and I loved the spicy sauce!”

Christian expressed that he had a good homestay experience and wants to come back to Brunei soon.

“The education system in Brunei is unique. Because I specialised in education, I would like to maybe work here and help improve my country’s education system.”

“I would like to thank the Brunei government for the warm welcome and even now during this farewell I can feel the warmth.”

Hjh Siti Salmah Hj Ibrahim, a retired teacher who has been accepting participating youths for 18 years now, said that the experience is always different every year.

“This year we find that the participants are younger. Back then we took care of participants who were already married and employed.”

“It’s always a fun experience because it feels like they are my own children! My family and I will definitely keep doing this as it does not only help us understand their culture, but we learn a lot from them as well.”

Sharing the same view was Hjh Zaiaini Hj Noorkhan, who became a foster mother for the first time.

“It was actually a last minute idea. We’re so used to accepting foreign students so we have all the necessities but this was decided at the very last minute.”

“I don’t regret it because it was really a fun experience especially since I was taking care of someone from Myanmar and Malaysia – who almost have the same culture as us.”

Hjh Zaiani said that she would gladly become a foster mother again next year if given the chance.

“This is not only good for them, but it is also good for us to get to know people from all over the world and learn about their way of life.”

The participating youths of the SSEAYP 2014 are headed to their next port of call, Cambodia, followed by Myanmar, Indonesia and back to Japan.

 The Brunei Times