Young southeast asian leaders gather in Vietnam

Planes carrying young leaders from nine Southeast Asian countries landed in Ho Chi Minh City on November 23, 2016. Without hesitation the 17 participants laughed, hugged, and started conversations as if it hadn’t been five months since they last saw each other. They came to Vietnam ready to work, enjoy new cultural experiences, and most importantly, to write grants with the potential to change their communities.


These Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) fellows were all together at ASU in Tempe, Arizona for five weeks in April 2016 as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program. The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering hosted 22 of these fellows focusing on social entrepreneurship and economic development (SE&ED).


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The 17 young leaders from YSEALI visited the ASU Representative Office in Vietnam. Here they took the time to smile for photo right outside the office with ASU’s YSEALI and Vietnam team.


The young leaders were joined in Vietnam by Dr. David Benson, the lead faculty for the SE&ED institute, and Carolyn Starr, Sr. Coordinator for YSEALI. Together, they led the group teaching project collaboration and grant writing for three days. The fellows were challenged to create teams, develop a vision and implementation plan, and then begin writing grants to support programs in their home countries.


As a result of their hard work during this grant writing workshop, one of the teams who submitted a proposal to the YSEALI Seeds for the Future program sponsored by the US Department of State, was selected for funding. The winning team, comprised of two female participants from the Phillipines and Thailand, submitted a project titled “XX+XY” that promotes gender equality by educating youth and advocating for women’s rights in underprivileged communities.


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The YSEALI students were also introduced to Vietnamese food and culture during their visit. Here they are enjoying a traditional Vietnamese feast.


Woven between late night brainstorming and early morning breakfast, the students made time for cultural side trips, urban hikes of the city and a visit to the ASU Representative Office located in Ho Chi Minh City. They also ate bun cha, the same dish President Obama enjoyed with food writer Anthony Bourdain in his most recent visit to Vietnam.


When their planes took off on Sunday, the YSEALI fellows had drafted new grants, reconfirmed connections and made plans for their next meet ups - all with the goal of continuing to create innovative solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.