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DTVM Year 1 student Kirthana Ganeson has just returned from representing Singapore at the US-ASEAN Young Leaders Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, which was held from 5 to 9 December 2012. This is her report.


The Big Issues and the Small Lessons

As participants, we held many discussions on various issues, including discrimination against women, human rights and bullying. We also scrutinised trends in ASEAN, such as the power of social media and fostering youth volunteerism.


We visited the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, where we learnt about its mission.  The representatives shared with us the three main pillars of ASEAN, which are Social Cultural, Political Security and Economy.


We also met the US Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Scot Marciel, at his home. He shared with us the importance of mutual respect among us as young leaders of ASEAN.


Kirthana (extreme left) with delegates from Singapore


The US-ASEAN Young Leaders Summit was first held in 2009 and is organised by the US Department of State, together with the embassies of several countries. The summit brings together the alumni of the Southeast Asian Youth Leadership Programme (SEAYLP) who come from ASEAN countries. The main aim is to foster ties between the youths of these countries and with the US.


Kirthana (centre, holding a certificate), with delegates
from ASEAN and the US


Helping Others

We dedicated an entire day to community service activities. We were dispersed into groups and taken to separate destinations. These were Sanggar Anak Akae, an autonomous school, Sahabat Anak, a school that nurtures children who come from poor families, Yayasan Wisma Cheshire, a non-government organisation and the Center for Civic Education Indonesia (CCEI), an organisation that teaches English to local teenagers.

The Fun Bits

We also learnt about Indonesian culture, such as how to make the angklung, a musical instrument made of two bamboo tubes, and the traditional Saman Dance.


Kirthana and fellow delegates at the ASEAN Secretariat


The summit ended with a colourful Cultural Night where participants from each country performed a national song and dance. At the end of the show, we hugged each other and exchanged our Facebook profiles and Twitter usernames. We said our goodbyes and parted ways but we’re already looking forward to a reunion in 2015!