| Fadhil Yunus |
A TOTAL of 68 participants from all over Asean have been selected to take part in the 3rd instalment of the 11-Week English Language programme which is jointly organised by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and the East-West Centre in Hawaii.
The programme constitutes one of the main initiatives under the Brunei-US English Language Enrichment Project for Asean.
During a welcoming dinner for the 68 participants at the Tarindak d’Polo Restaurant of the Royal Brunei Polo and Riding Club in Jerudong last night, the Project Executive of the Brunei-US English Language Enrichment Project for Asean, Dr Salbrina Haji Sharbawi, revealed that various milestones in the Brunei-US Project over the past two years are indeed reflections of the collective efforts of various agencies to nurture a cohesive Asean community through the use of English.
“The prevalence of social media and the proliferation of information sources present the citizens of Asean with an increasingly wide range of ideas, beliefs and information. To build a successful and cohesive society, we need to appreciate and harness this diversity, while remaining anchored by a strong sense of belonging to Asean,” said Dr Salbrina.
The year 2014 marks a pivotal time for everyone associated with the five-year Brunei-US project reaching its midway point meeting one of the prime goals – of creating a cohesive society.
“This is one of the goals we set out to achieve when we first embarked on this journey in 2012, and based on the achievements of the project thus far, we are indeed heading in the right direction.”
In her speech, Dr Salbrina shared success stories from the first intake, which included an alumnus from Brunei who was recently awarded the Monbukagakusho Scholarship from Japan’s Ministry of Culture, Youth, Sports and Technology. This alumnus is set to do a Masters degree in the Young Leaders Programme at the Graduate School of Policy Studies in National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.
Further giving proof that the programme reaped benefits, “career progression through job promotions has also been reported by past participants who find themselves holding leadership positions now”, she noted.
Of diplomats in previous cohorts, she said they have been assigned overseas where English is the lingua franca (a language that is used among people who speak various languages) ie countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States following their return to their home countries after the completion of the programme.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of the United States of America to Brunei Darussalam, Daniel Shields highlighted that the programme symbolises the unity of Asean and the limitless potential of its member states.
“It also represents the strong spirit of bilateral cooperation between Brunei and the United States,” reaffirmed the ambassador.
Noting the accomplishments of previous cohorts, multiple sets of English Language Fellows have established themselves in the region; academics have participated in exchanges while thousands of individuals in the target Asean member countries have received important English language training.
Such a programme not only acts as a tool to develop the English language ability but serves as means to strengthen the Asean community which will subsequently increase cooperation between and among member countries, foster partnerships and promote even greater professionalism within the organisation.
“With this programme, we know that participants will develop their English language and professional skills. But we also hope that they will build stronger people-to-people ties to their Asean colleagues, ties that will increase mutual understanding and cooperation,” concluded the ambassador.