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Regional youth confab hails Asean

Over a hundred young non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders representing over 75 organizations across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) convened at Movenpick Hotel in Mactan Island, Cebu for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) workshop last Nov. 16 to 19.

The four-day “Generation: Go NGO” workshop, funded by the US Embassy in the Philippines and Cultural Vistas, brought together the NGO leaders to train them on how to strengthen their organizations, craft their messages, broaden their support, and achieve greater impact.

Combining hands-on activities, lectures and simulations, the workshop provided a comprehensive overview of what’s necessary to make a difference in Asean’s NGO sector in the 2020s, with special focus on the core function areas of: capacity-building, governance, organizational development, community engagement, financial management, and outcomes-focused evaluation.

In her opening speech, US Ambassador to the Asean Nina Hachigian encouraged the delegates to share their knowledge and understand their causes in order to fully absorb the Asean spirit and camaraderie.

“The best days are still ahead. You are the young future of the region due to your people- centered programs and your passion to make a difference. You also give equal opportunities
to women and the disadvantaged,” she declared during a beachside party held at the Movenpick Hotel.

The ambassador also mentioned the highly integrated economics, the free movement of students, plus access to the internet which can only lead to greater heights for YSEALI.

Regarding future plans, she declared the holding of six more workshops within the region next year, plus the establishment of grants and international fellow exchanges to broaden cultural understanding and fellowships within the region.

Khairul Azmi, 26, a delegate from Brunei, said he expects to know more about NGO work, people empowerment, and working with each other.

The event also afforded cultural presentations and skits of each foreign delegation to the delight and amusement of the audience.

Launched in 2013, the YSEALI is the US government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. Through a variety of programs and engagements, YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the US and Southeast Asia, and nurture an Asean community of leaders who can work across borders to address common challenges.

Ambassador Hachigian was sworn in as the second US Ambassador to the Asean on Sept. 19, 2014. In her capacity as Chief of the US Mission to Asean, she is responsible for working with Asean member states and other stakeholders to advance US interests in a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Southeast Asia that supports human dignity and a rules-based regional order.