US to offer more networking opportunities for young leaders

National 2 minutes, 42 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is set to offer more networking opportunities for young leaders across the region, following a successful first year with over 10,000 members.

 Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US State Department, yesterday said the US-led programme will continue to create more opportunities by facilitating a network among the young leaders in line with aspirations to build an ASEAN Community.

 “The programme has been very successful, because what we’ve done is tapped into very energetic, driven young people who want to make a difference,” he said during a meeting with a group of YSEALI alumni in Brunei at the US Embassy. 

He explained that YSEALI, the signature programme of US President Barack Obama, seeks to bring together young leaders from around the region and help them to build leadership skills whilst strengthening ties between the US and ASEAN.

 “The reason why we’re doing this is because, first, we want ASEAN to succeed. We think it’s really important. We also think that, for it to succeed, you have to really build a community. You have to link people,” said Marciel.

During the meeting, he highlighted that the programme was successful in connecting young leaders from various ASEAN nations including the Bruneian alumni whom he described as “very talented” and eager to “make a difference”.  “ASEAN is such a diverse group of countries. You have all kinds of different people, cultures, languages and levels of economic development. Trying to get everyone to work together is really a fantastic opportunity,” he said.

 Keeran Dato Paduka Janin, one of the Sultanate’s top young entrepreneurs in the growing IT sector, said his participation in the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit in Washington, DC, through YSEALI was an “eye-opener”.

 “It really changed my perspective on what I can actually do when I come back here… I realised that the tools that I make can really affect some people from different areas,” he said, adding that he was able to collaborate with another YSEALI member to advocate wildlife conservation in the country.

 Muhd Hazimi Hj Zaidi, Acting President of local youth-led Society for Community Outreach and Training (SCOT), was inspired to further raise public awareness of recycling after returning from the YSEALI Institute on Environmental Issues conducted in Hawaii, Colorado and Washington, DC.

 “It got me thinking that Bruneians are not as open to recycling as the Americans… It’s very hard to change the mindset, so what I did was (set an example at home). In order for you to make a change, you have to start with yourself and at home. From there, you can expand,” said the undergraduate.

 Another student from Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Amal Kasibah Bohari, valued the opportunity to partake in panel discussions on youth volunteerism and how to utilise social media during the YSEALI Generation: Power of Collaboration event in Myanmar.

Daniel Shields, US Ambassador to Brunei, said the programme participants can help to build an ASEAN Community. “In Brunei, people are starting to think on an ASEAN level, but I think there’s still a lot to be done. I think people like you can take it to the next level,” he told the alumni.

The Brunei Times