Recently in Singapore, the East-West Center realized a four-year goal to gather ASEAN-wide young environmental leaders to create collaborative project proposals in what was deemed “an incredible, innovative, and enriching workshop” by Eric Watnik, the Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.
Fifty-seven alumni from the Study of the US Institutes (SUSI) at East-West Center and University of Montana Mansfield Center (UMT) spent three intensive days crafting proposals for the chance to win $25,000 from the U.S. State Department’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund.
East-West Center SUSI alumni from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, and Singapore came together with UMT’s alumni from Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in the first such collaboration by two SUSI grantee institutions. The event aimed to foster collaboration among ASEAN youth who will be the first generation to lead in the AEC region.
At the final workshop event, hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, presentations of the top three top projects, as voted on by participants, were given to a panel of judges from the U.S. Embassy, Nature Society Singapore and Republic Polytechnic. Projects included mangrove restoration in Cambodia, a pan-ASEAN eco-debate tournament, and Indonesian “ecopreneurship” camps for youth. Click here to view the project proposals.
“It’s gratifying to see that our project-based teaching methods are reaping benefits,” said Lance C. Boyd, SUSI curriculum designer for the East-West Center. “The participants have the ideas and drive to create change in their communities, and when we’re able to provide the platform and tools, we get exceptional results, as we saw in Singapore.”
As important as the project development and enhanced understanding of regional environmental issues was the participants’ exposure to other ASEAN youth. As one participant said, “I now understand more about people from different ASEAN countries. We learned and shared with each other, and the network we have built is really beneficial for the entire region as well as for the USA.”