ASEAN Speaks

As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) becomes an increasingly integrated community, the region’s youth from Jakarta to Manila and Yangon to Bangkok are connecting at unprecedented rates and taking a larger role in addressing their communities’ most challenging issues. 

Over the past year, IRI has had the privilege of working with the Department of State to manage the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Seeds for the Future grants competition.  It is just one of the many outlets for the millions of dynamic, creative and passionate youth that make up the ASEAN region.  Today, more so than ever before, youth are organizing across Southeast Asia to produce innovative solutions to some of the globe’s most intractable problems.  With unbridled optimism and determination, they are tackling head on issues like climate change, poverty, economic inequality and women’s empowerment.  IRI asked some of ASEAN’s most promising youth leaders about their aspirations for the region and here’s what they had to say:

Kathleen Young Ricardo founded MY IDEA (Movement of the Youth for Inclusive Development through Education in ASEAN), a youth-led and youth-run initiative that focuses on increasing the capacity of teachers in Negros Oriental on inclusive education strategies and effectively accommodating learners with disabilities in their classrooms.  Follow them on twitter: @MyIdeaOnline

Christian James Nazareth serves as the Project Lead for Beyond ASEAN, an initiative that organizes workshops on disaster preparedness for youth leaders in the Philippines and Indonesia.  Follow them on twitter: @BEYOND_ASEAN

Carlos Muhammad is the Project Leader of Buku Kami (Indonesian for “Our Books”).  He and his dedicated team have organized a social entrepreneurship program in Indonesian and Thailand that empowers women victims of human trafficking and sex work by providing them job skills.  Follow them on twitter: @BukuKamiProject and on Instagram

The Green Education Initiative, founded by Ace Mark Aniceto, empowers youth volunteers through environmental education and action research.  GEI aims to train young environmental leaders on the area of the environment with emphasis on sustainable resource use and the role of science and technology in solving environmental problems.

Jarrah Brilliantes and Viet Nguyen co-founded iTeach Project, which provides supplementary classes in underserved mountainous and isolated communities in the Philippines and Vietnam.  The classes use a multi-intelligence teaching approach that helps all student learn and internalize lessons, no matter their skill level.

Topaz Warim Putra leads Learn and Share Generation, which provides English language and computer skills training to students in Indonesia and Laos.  Students participating in LSG classes write brief essays about their lives and experiences and share them online with students in the other country.

Laras Susanti is a young anti-corruption advocate who leads the One Woman, One Voice project, which follows the lives of women corruption-fighters in Indonesia and the Philippines.  The project will produce a documentary about the women’s anti-corruption work and unveil it at an international anti-corruption conference.  Follow them on twitter: @voice_women

Urbral Shapers is a dynamic group of young leaders in Cambodia and Thailand driven to try and train youth in entrepreneurship and the value of networking. Urbral Shapers reaches out to both countries’ rural populations and marginalized groups to try and maximize their impact.

Kosoma Kim is the project leader of Gen Y Leaders Xchange 4 Actions. Their motto is, “We build your leadership, you build your society,” and the words ring true as they work in Cambodia and Thailand to train new young leaders in the best anti-corruption practices. 

William Lie leads the ASEAN Youth Energy institute which raises awareness of green technology and environmental conservation and encourages youth to be green leaders in their communities.  

Lusi Efriani founded Batik Girl to provide job skills training to women inmates in Indonesian prisons.  Through the project the women prisoners, who often struggle to find work and support their families after release, gain valuable sewing skills and a support network to help them succeed.  

Posted by

Theodore Wilhite

Assistant Program Officer, Asia Division