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Different Cultures, Same Interests

Youths from 10 ASEAN countries in Singapore to learn from one another and make a difference.


The start of something new

They speak different languages and come from very diverse backgrounds. Yet 200 youths from 10 countries set aside four days to travel to Singapore with a common mission.

YMAC (Youth Model ASEAN Conference) 2015 was declared open on 5 October at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) where participants from ASEAN member countries – mostly students from tertiary institutions  gathered to discuss issues affecting the region, under the theme ‘Unity in Community.’ In his address at the opening ceremony, Ambassador-at-large Mr Bilahari Kausikan, reminded the audience that the main aim of ASEAN is to ensure peace and stability in the region. 

 “I think it is very heartening to see that a lot of people have travelled many hours from their provinces to reach Singapore and some even missed their flights, so I think it is touching that at the end of the day, we can celebrate unity and community,” said Ms Evangeline Cheng, the Organising Chairperson of YMAC 2015.

This is the fifth year the event is organised by the five polytechnics in Singapore and hosted by SP. Organisers said YMAC is designed to simulate an ASEAN Summit for youths. Besides serving as a platform to raise awareness among youths in ASEAN and bring about positive change in the community, YMAC is also an opportunity to forge lasting friendships.

Sokhan Darapy, 27, a student from Cambodia said, “We feel proud to have raised our ideas and voices and that we have a floor to speak.” 

This was also the sentiment of Esther Tan, a 22-year-old organiser from SP. She said, “I think the energy and the ideas that they can potentially come up with is very good and we can do a lot more together.” 

Delegates take part in intense discussions during the four-day programme


Making lasting friendships

A few hours after they landed in Singapore, it was clear that the participants had already started to forge friendships. This was achieved courtesy of activities that included serious discussions, excursions and games.

Most participants felt that besides gaining experience, gaining friends through this event was the next best thing.

Once strangers from different countries, now friends with a common goal. Participants at the end of Day One of YMAC 2015


“I think it’s very important for them to come together, to know each other and to form an informal network,” said Deputy Principal of SP, Mr Hee Joh Liang.

He added, “If they can form this network maybe 10 years from now, it may blossom into something that may be a potent force in the unity of ASEAN.”

“After all, they are leaders in their own right.”


Article by Girwina Tan and Zec Chua, Photos by Melodie Edith James

Year 2 students, Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media