Manila, December 6, 2016 — Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) members in the Philippines marked the third anniversary of YSEALI by conducting youth-led community outreach projects in 33 locations across the country. YSEALI YOUnified, held December 3, engaged 640 youth volunteers and more than 4,400 participants nationwide to advance the key YSEALI advocacies of civic engagement, economic development, education and the environment. Projects included a mental health awareness program in Albay; outreach to survivors of Typhoon Lawin in Ilocos Norte; an underwater clean-up on Danjugan Island in Negros; a leadership camp with indigenous youth in Iloilo; English literacy sessions for out-of-school youth in Sulu; and an agri-entrepreneurship workshop for recent drug surrenderees in North Cotabato.
In Manila, the culminating YSEALI YOUnified event brought together almost 200 university student leaders to look at ways to work together to address challenges and opportunities for youth in marine conservation, social media, education and social entrepreneurship. Addressing the audience, U.S. Ambassador-Designate to the Philippines Sung Kim reminded the students that “leadership also means public service and public welfare.” He praised the determination of YSEALI members in the Philippines saying, “I think what you did today, engaging in various public service activities throughout the country, is a tremendous model of what leadership really means.”
YSEALI members from the other nine Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states also participated in the celebration by conducting additional 70 youth-led projects across Southeast Asia, engaging more than 9,000 participants.
Launched in 2013, YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. Through a variety of programs and engagements, including U.S. educational and professional exchanges, regional workshops, in-country programs, and seed grants, YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. YSEALI focuses on critical topics identified by youth in the region, such as civic engagement, environmental and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and economic development. YSEALI now has more than 100,000 members across ASEAN and more than 15,000 in the Philippines alone. More than 200 Filipinos have participated in YSEALI exchange programs to the U.S. and other Southeast Asian countries. More than 20 Filipino YSEALI members have also received grant funding to implement their project ideas.