YSEALI Fellows gain insights after US experience

|     Aziz Idris     |

NINE local participants who recently returned from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) programme in the United States (US) are keen to conduct programmes and activities in the Sultanate as part of their follow-up projects.

The Brunei delegation for this year’s cohort was divided into two groups: five attended the YSEALI Professional Fellows Programme, which offers month-long mentorship and shadowing programmes at businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government offices in the US, while the other four took part in the YSEALI Academic Fellows Programme which focusses on intensive study of leadership and regional issues at American campuses.

One of the participants of the YSEALI Professional Fellows Programme, Munirah binti Haji Mashod, said she plans to create a segment in the state broadcaster Radio Television Brunei (RTB) which focusses on environmental issues and sustainable living.

Working with RTB as a presenter for Rampai Pagi, she wants to take advantage of what she learnt during the programme in the US to inform the public on environmental concerns to generate greater awareness among the community.

Sharing the same sentiment was Hazwani Wajihah binti Jefery, a participant from the YSEALI Academic Fellows Programme, who said that she aimed to change the mindset of consumers on single use plastic.

Public Affairs Officer at the United States Embassy in Brunei Darussalam Daniel Lee in a group photo with the YSEALI Academic and Professional Fellows. – AZIZ IDRIS

She said the community in Montana in the US have found solutions for both consumers and producers to stop treating eco-friendly and zero-waste products as a consumer lifestyle.

Working closely with the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe), she hopes to apply her new found knowledge and contribute her part back to the local community.

Meanwhile, another participant from the YSEALI Professional Fellows Programme, Dayangku Farah Amirah binti Pengiran Redzuan, gained new insights on constitutional legality in the US.

Dayangku Farah Amirah has experience working with various government ministries as an officer at the Brunei Administrative Services.

“The US programme was definitely a learning experience not only for personal growth but also to do our part in helping to educate the community,” she said.

Another participant from the same fellowship programme, Chong Chin Yee, was impressed with the openness and urgency of entrepreneurship in the US, and that they are very clear cut with the directions of their respective fields.

Chong Chin Yee is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Memori, a holistic digital platform that simplifies will writing.

All participants agreed that their experience in the US has helped them devise action plans based on the fellows’ field of interests and the needs of their respective communities.

They said they hope to give back to various organisations to develop start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and solve environmental issues, among others.

The YSEALI programme was launched by the US Department of State to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia, and have reached over 1,200 participants, 142 of which are YSEALI alumni from Brunei.

Many alumni of the programme have gone on to lead or participate in civil society organisations and activities focussed on the environment, project management, media engagement and combatting trafficking persons.