YSEALI YOUnified: A Stunning Day of Youth-led Community Service Projects across Southeast Asia

On December 3rd 2016 16,000 Southeast Asian young people came together to celebrate the third anniversary of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). The YSEALI members led 107 community service projects across ten countries, making this the most active and widespread community service day in Southeast Asia to date. Activities included planting mangroves in Thailand and Cambodia to combat beach erosion; community workshops in Indonesia and Brunei on the burning issues of human trafficking and migration; a STEM competition for girls in Malaysia; leadership workshops for indigenous youth in the Philippines; literacy awareness activities at the Youth Power Library in Burma and more.

Vietnam in the Spotlight

The Vietnamese YSEALI members held an inspiring seminar on entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation for local university students and a colorful English Fair for high school students. The goal of the English Fair, as described by the 50 volunteers who organized it, was to create a fun and dynamic environment that encourages the use of the English language through games, competitions and group activities. However, English was not the only topic addressed in the fair, students could also participate in environmental activities like creative paper and plastic recycling workshops, which of course were also conducted in English. The YSEALI volunteers put a lot of time, effort and thought into creating a meaningful and enjoyable day for the 250 high school students who participated, and according to reports, the fair was a great success. 

Nurturing Tomorrow’s Leaders

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative was initiated by former US President Barack Obama to nurture emerging leaders across the Southeast Asia region. Founded in 2013, the YSEALI community is open to young people, ages 18-35, from the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma. 

YSEALI sponsors academic and professional-development regional exchange programs and networking workshops. They offer support in the form of mentoring, guidance, and skill building activities to encourage leadership, community involvement and social \ environmental entrepreneurship. In addition, each year there is a grant competition for young leaders who have developed a unique paradigm to address one of the region’s challenges. This young and impressive international initiative is a fascinating one to follow.