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US ASEAN Futures Symposium - Delegate’s Experience

As a business student, I’m often asked why I choose to participate in activities that lie outside of my specific major. Until recently, this question hadn't received much of my attention. However, in the past few weeks, a distinct and resolute answer was made clear to me. In high school, I was fortunate to be a part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, a rigorous course load requiring the need for strong organization, and time management skills. Although stressful at times, what I enjoyed most about this program was the opportunity to embody the mindset of global citizenship, and the realization that across the world, we share much more in-common than we do apart. As such, I’ve strived to take steps to practice this idea of being well-rounded and have learned that unique experiences provide the opportunity to broaden skill sets, and general knowledge. Having the honor to be a delegate at the 2023 US-ASEAN Futures Symposium, hosted in partnership with Globally and the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association, allowed me to put this idea into practice. 

Meeting at the United States Institute of Peace, and George Washington University, it was incredible to see the unique makeup of delegates, coming from across the country, and the world to explore US-ASEAN relations. Admittedly, going into the symposium, I was no expert in US-ASEAN policy, and still am not today, however, throughout the symposium I discovered the interconnectedness of opportunities to make progress in key areas relating to the future, and the reality that everyone has a role to play in transitioning concepts to reality. What I especially enjoyed from the symposium was the opportunity for skill-building. Specifically, in learning more about key challenges relating to the future of the US-ASEAN partnership in areas like climate, security, economics, equality, and cybersecurity, and then having the opportunity to engage in drafting a policy memo providing solutions to one of these areas. 

I was fortunate to work within the climate area, where I got to collaborate with a diverse group of students and young professionals focused on implementable actions relating to climate actions that support future growth. For many years, I’ve been fortunate to work within the area of social impact, specifically relating to the work that can be done to make progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Through participating in this working session, I was able to strengthen my knowledge and skills in the realm of policy creation, while learning from my counterparts about unique solutions to protect our environment. Although my focus was on climate, it was very exciting to learn about the efforts from students in other working groups as it related to policy-creation aimed at addressing current areas of focus and concern. 

Aside from policy-creation,being able to meet other students and young-professionals at the conference was very exciting, especially in understanding the unique and different backgrounds of every participant, and their interest in global citizenship. As I reflect on the US-ASEAN symposium, I’m brought back to the question of why active participation in areas outside a field of study is important. Although nuanced in different ways, as a whole, the symposium showcased that for US-ASEAN relations to be successful, and be focused on the future, it requires engagement from every stakeholder. What’s so unique about the US-ASEAN relationship is that stakeholder participation can be defined in a number of ways. As we move forward into 2024, I hope my experience as a delegate demonstrates what’s possible with the mindset of global citizenship, and the role we can all play in shaping our collective future. 

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