INAUGURAL ASEAN YOUTH CONVERGENCE KICK-STARTS WITH AN ONLINE DELEGATES’ MEETING, LETTERS TO LEADERS’ WORKSHOP

KHON KAEN, 13 May 2024 — Designed to foster Southeast Asian youth development and engagement, the first-ever ASEAN Youth Convergence (AYC) organised by Mekong Institute (MI) and the ASEAN Secretariat began today with an online meet and greet, pre-departure briefing, and a workshop on writing letters to leaders.

With support from the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY), AYC 2024 seeks to inspire the youth to act on regional community issues and enhance their capacity for stakeholder engagement. The program focuses on regional cooperation, youth leadership & volunteerism, and women empowerment.

Director Lee Yoong Yoong, from the Community Affairs Directorate at the ASEAN Secretariat, in his opening remarks, emphasised the crucial role of youth in the ASEAN community-building journey.  He highlighted that with a third of its population aged 35 years old and below, ASEAN today is a young and energetic region.  Director Yoong Yoong also urged all youth participants to have an open mind, inquisitive attitude, and enthusiastic outlook during the workshop in Vientiane next week so that the discussion can be livelier and engaging.

Anusara Tanpitak, MI’s Communications and Knowledge Management Manager, shared that over 700 students and young professionals across the ASEAN Member States applied for AYC 2024. “This keen interest highlights the youth’s eagerness to actively participate in ASEAN’s sustainable development efforts. The 30 selected delegates joining the program will have an opportunity to learn practical skills in advocacy work and civic engagement,” she explained. 

In their online session, the youth delegates discovered how writing letters to leaders and organisations can be a simple yet powerful tool to make a difference in their communities. Save Philippine Seas Executive Director, Anna Oposa, who led the letter-writing workshop, shared inspiring stories of meaningful change sparked by letters sent to government agencies and private entities.

“Leaders may not always be aware of how their decisions affect their constituents. Writing letters to leaders is a concrete way that citizens can take action on an issue they are concerned about. When you write a letter, there is a 50-50 chance of them replying to you. When you don’t write a letter, there’s a 100% chance that they won’t reply to you,” Oposa explained during her talk.

AYC 2024 is part of the ASEAN Prize speaking engagement programme and is supported by the SOMY. Delegates will have the unique opportunity to closely engage with and learn directly from regional changemakers who have been honored with the ASEAN Prize, a prestigious award that recognises the inspiring achievements of ASEAN citizens and organisations.

This award highlights their meaningful contributions to ASEAN community building. The delegates will have a direct learning session from the APRs from 2021, 2022, and 2023 on May 20 and 21, 2024, at the ASEAN Prize Symposium and AYC youth conference in Vientiane.

 

MI is the APR for 2021, recognised for its remarkable contribution to regional cooperation and integration in the Mekong subregion.

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