Exchange programme brings nations closer

Izah Azahari

The Brunei Darussalam-Republic of Korea Intergovernmental Youth Exchange Programme 2020 has helped propel youth towards accepting and understanding different cultures, while improving relations between the two countries.

This was said by Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud during the programme’s closing ceremony at the VIP Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Saturday.

“Exchanging ideas and learning from each other propels all youth participants towards acceptance and understanding of an array of different cultural and community perspectives, while adopting the digital platform is an alternative for the youth to learn and gain knowledge while building a friendship,” he said.

“Since the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on February 10, 2010, the youth exchange programme has become a cornerstone in strengthening the existing relationship and understanding in youth development and cultural exchange between the two countries.

“Echoing this year’s theme – Far in Distance, Close at Heart – this is the first virtual platform hosted via Zoom and Google Classroom. With this advanced technology, it has been able to bring us closer to those who are far away from us. Instead of looking at the physical distance as a hindrance, we should see it as an excellent opportunity to develop alternative methods to meet each other.”

Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud speaks in a video conference at the closing ceremony.

Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal emphasised the three essential areas noticed between both countries, “which were that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to adopt a new norm that all of us are required to continue adjusting, in which the youth from both countries have the golden opportunity to discuss how to move forward and exchange views on the best possible ways to create a new practice; the exchange programme conducted virtually allows innovative, trend-setting youth as digital native to utilise social media as an effective platform for constructive interactions, discuss issues, and share views; and the need to find a way to improve relations between two countries, aiming to foster friendship and understanding in a harmonious and friendly environment, to strengthen further and enhance current bilateral cooperation between both countries.

“As you reach the end of your programme, I hope all the youth participants will take this precious opportunity and develop new ideas on how we can improve the programme for future implementation”.

The event continued with speeches by Assistant Minister of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (Youth and Family Police Office) Yoon Hyo Shik; Brunei participant Mohammad Riwandy bin Ramli; and Republic of Korea participant Seoyeon Jung.

This was followed with the viewing of a video on the virtual programme, and a brief explanation on souvenirs from both countries.

Organised by the MCYS through its Youth and Sports Department and the Korea Youth Work Agency (KYWA), the virtual exchange programme was held at the Youth Centre in Bandar Seri Begawan on October 31, November 1 and November 14.

Thirty participants from Brunei Darussalam and 10 from the Republic of Korea were involved comprising youth aged between 16 and 19.

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Youth and Sports) Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Maiddin bin Pengiran Haji Said was the guest of honour.

This year’s programme featured a familiarisation session, cultural exchange and group dialogues, as well as topic presentations and sharing sessions.

The programme’s purpose is to provide opportunities for participants from both countries to share their experiences, learning, and challenges pre, current and post COVID-19, while further enhancing cooperation between the two countries and creating a platform for young people to participate in dialogue on their respective cultures.