Gene with the US Ambassador and the Singapore Student Delegation
In 2010, our very articulate and engaging DBID student Gene Png was one of the 5 students chosen to represent Singapore at a 25-day US-ASEAN Young Leader’s Summit in Dekalb, Illinois and Washington, DC in the US. And recently in December, she was in Jakarta on a follow-up visit to reconnect with the delegates and also visit with the US Ambassador and learn first-hand from the ASEAN secretariat on how youth such as our intrepid students like Gene can continue to contribute to the socio-cultural growth of our communities. Learn more from Gene herself here:
“On the 5th of December, I embarked on the US-ASEAN Young Leaders Summit 2012 that was held in Jakarta, Indonesia and initiated by Secretary Clinton of the United States. This trip was mainly for SEAYLP (South East Asian Youth Leadership Program) participants to reconnect with each other, establish new friendships and discuss global issues on a common platform.
During the summit, I had the pleasure of interacting with people from the ten ASEAN countries through various activities. Hearing them discuss about the pressing issues that their countries are facing was an eye-opening experience for me. I learnt about the different concerns that each country has and also, it was enlightening to know that these youths have a vision and are willing to work hard to address those problems. Also, we had a music-making session where we each had a go on the traditional Indonesian musical instrument, the Angklung. In that session, we learnt that despite holding on to Angklungs that are of different notes, we can combine efforts to create a beautiful melody. Likewise, despite being from different countries, we can set apart our differences and work together to form a strong and harmonious ASEAN community.
Besides getting to meet new SEAYLP participants, I had the honour of visiting the ASEAN Secretariat and meeting the US Ambassador, at a dinner reception that he held in his very own home. At the ASEAN Secretariat, we learnt about the three pillars that are set upon the ASEAN community: Socio-cultural, political security and economics. Additionally, we learnt about how youths can contribute to the growth of ASEAN. The reception was light-hearted, casual and all in all, lots of fun. We heard about the Ambassador's views on the ASEAN community, had the opportunity to express our views on the importance of human rights and enjoyed a great dinner that was accompanied by a talented Indonesian band.
Another highlight of my trip was the visit to the Roots Children Studio Autonomous School, where children from different urban communities come and live together to learn about life value, interpret freedom, develop skills and creativity. The state of the school is a far cry from the schools that you see in Singapore. The walls were vandalised and there were no proper amenities for the children to use. However, they have managed to use their students' paintings and murals to transform the place into a comfortable and cosy home. There, we learnt how to create music using old gasoline tanks, biscuit tins and glass bottles. In that afternoon, all boundaries of language and nationality was transcended and we communicated through the universal language, Music.
The summit has shaped me into a better person and greatly broadened my outlook on the ASEAN and US community. As of now, the Singaporean team is looking forward to creating an action plan that involves benefitting the elderly in Singapore. I hope that with the skills and knowledge that I have acquired over the four days, my team and I will be able to carry out a successful action plan and be one step closer to becoming the future leaders of ASEAN.”