ASEAN Youth Fellowship expands to foster people-to-people ties

16:33 | 07/10/2019
This year's ASEAN Youth Fellowship (AYF) themed “Partnerships for a Sustainable ASEAN” focused on warm people-to-people relations to ensure social, environmental, and economic sustainability in the region.
asean youth fellowship expands to foster people to people ties
Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean took a photo with the 39 young ASEAN leaders at ASEAN Youth Fellowship

Most recently, 39 young ASEAN leaders gathered in Singapore to exchange ideas as well as discuss issues and opportunities to collaborate for sustainable partnerships at the second run of the ASEAN Youth Fellowship (AYF) programme organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and National Youth Council (NYC). Three young Vietnamese leaders also attended the event and shared their experiences across social and economic fields.

By 2020, more than half of the ASEAN’s population will be under 35 years old. This leadership development programme comprises next-generation youth leaders from the public, private, and people sectors (3P) who have been identified as having the potential to take on prominent leadership positions in the future and further contribute to the betterment of the region. The AYF programme aims to provide participants with the opportunity to share experiences, build relationships, and work together to establish a strong network of young ASEAN leaders who can influence positive change in the region.

asean youth fellowship expands to foster people to people ties
Nguyen Dong Anh, one of three representatives from Vietnam

Following the success of its inaugural edition in 2018, the Singapore-based AYF programme has also expanded with an overseas component to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this year to augment exchanges and opportunities for collaboration.

The week-long programme, lasting from September 28 to October 5, 2019, included a series of dialogues and learning journeys. AYF participants had the chance to interact with distinguished thought leaders and political office holders, including Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean and Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul.

Some of the activities included sharing sessions on sustainable business practices by DBS Bank and CapitaLand, and a visit to Semakau Landfill for the participants to learn about sustainable waste management in land-scarce Singapore. During the Kuala Lumpur leg from October 1-3, they were hosted by Malaysian social enterprises Native and Epic Collective on a cultural learning journey with the Orang Asli community. Participants also learned about the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre’s (MaGIC) work in building a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem in Malaysia, among other activities.

Jean Tan, executive director of the SIF, said, “The ASEAN Youth Fellowship exemplifies the value of cross-cultural ties in a global landscape that is rapidly changing. We see emerging young ASEAN leaders as trailblazers with the potential to promote mutual understanding and synergise individual efforts for positive and sustainable impact. The SIF is proud to be a part of this meaningful programme and to contribute towards our youths’ efforts to create a more united, cohesive, and sustainable ASEAN.”

asean youth fellowship expands to foster people to people ties

David Chua, chief executive officer of the National Youth Council, said, “The AYF provides a platform to forge strong youth-to-youth connections and cultivate a cross-boundary regional lens. We already see these outcomes actualised by the inaugural cohort last year. The young leaders continue to actively maintain their ties, activate their network to solve work-related issues, and some even collaborated on social impact projects. The Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund (SAYF) will support these ground-up initiatives which address important socio-economic-cultural issues for the ASEAN. My hope is for AYF to continue strengthening our youth to be Asia-ready, as they work towards building a fellowship of positive impact.”

The AYF is a nomination-based leadership development programme for ASEAN youth aged 27-35 from the 3P sectors. A collaboration between the SIF and NYC, the AYF is designed to empower youth leaders across the ASEAN to develop a strong network of peers, and collectively take the ASEAN community forward as a strong and unified entity in today’s volatile environment.

Since the AYF’s inaugural edition in 2018, fellows have been actively contributing to strengthening relationships in the ASEAN community. In Vietnam, 2018 Fellow Harry Phan was appointed as the SIF’s Representative in Ho Chi Minh City. In this capacity, he plays a key role in supporting the SIF’s mission to connect world communities – in particular, Singapore and Vietnam – and enable collaborations through meaningful projects that effect positive change, further strengthening the friendships between the people of the two countries.

The Singapore International Foundation makes friends for a better world. It builds enduring relationships between Singaporeans and world communities, and harnesses these friendships to enrich lives and effect positive change. The foundation is anchored in the belief that cross-cultural interactions provide insights that strengthen understanding. These exchanges inspire action and enable collaborations for good.

The National Youth Council believes in a world where young people are respected and heard and have the ability to influence and make a difference. Together with partners, NYC develops future-ready youth who are committed to Singapore by instilling in them a heart for service, resilience, and an enterprising spirit.

By Ha Vy

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