“I know that I know nothing. We need the students to mantain Reviews their curiosity. Wanting to know more. Wanting to learn more. “-Dr. Surin Pitsuwan-
Being part of the 80 ASEAN young people who care about education was an incredible journey of mine to end this year. 12th to 17th December 2015, I along with 14 other Indonesian delegation departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Indonesia to the international airport Don Mueang, Thailand to attended an event initiated by YSEALI (Young SouthEast Asian Leaders Initiative).
YSEALI is a signature program created by President Barack Obama since 2013. There have been several programs launched by YSEALI, and the program which i joined was “YSEALI ASEAN Generation Education for the 21st century”. This program aims to bring together young people of ASEAN in the framework of collaboration for the improvement of education in ASEAN countries. This was also the first time YSEALI held in Thailand, and for this event YSEALI colaborated with C-ASEAN, FIT, and some NGO’s in Thailand.
At about 10 am, we landed in Bangkok. We were greeted by volunteers YSEALI named Azmi or Thorn. Yep, Azmi sounds like the name of a Muslim, and he’s definetely a Thai Moeslim. He was the first Thai Muslims that I know. In addition, there was also Tee, YSEALI volunteer for Indonesian delegation.
We were then escorted to the hotel S Ratchada in Ratchadaphisek area, Bangkok. There we met with delegates from other countries. We were given a welcoming kit and lunch. After that, we followed the orientation program at the Ballroom of the hotel. Events orientation is also very pleasant, we involved in wide varieties of games, then we formed into several groups which will became our permanent group during the program. I entered the 3A group, along with Tasha who is also from Indonesia, Gam and Boom from Thailand, Chow from Malaysia, Gian, Jay, and Harry from The Philippines. The theme of our group was “How MIGHT we encourage students to be self-educated” which will be discussed during the program and at the end of the activity we had to present our project related to the theme. We also had Nick as our mentor who will guide us during group discussions.
After check-in hotel, I immediately went into my room for later changed my traditional dress. Yes, we had dinner with using traditional dress. In my room, there was no room mate of mine who came. A few minutes later, he came and voila .. I was rooming with Myanmar girls who are beautiful and kind-hearted named Mra Aye Soe (Mra). There was a funny incident I will never forget. When I want to unpacked my stuff, it seems like I put wrong codes on my suitcase. I panicked! We just had fe minutes before leaving hotel. When I was panic, Mra reassuring me and tried to help me. She did not even think about grooming and changed her clothes, and prefer to helped me. Ah, and thanks God we made it! Finally, we could unlock my suitcase as well, after I tried to call family at home. My roommate was really totally helped me. she’s like my angel.
After being neat (and beautiful), we both left the room and headed to the bus outside the hotel. All the delegates were taken to Suan Pakkad Palace, Bangkok. We were treated to dinner by the Governor of Bangkok, M.L. Sukhumbhand Paribatra. We all had dinner and got to know more closely with fellow delegates, organizers, and volunteers of YSEALI GenEdu2015. In addition, we also danced with traditional Thai dance. We had lots of fun even on the very first day!!!
The first day of formal activities, or our second day in Bangkok, we were dressed in formal attire. After breakfast at the hotel, we went to the C-ASEAN office, very close to the hotel. C-ASEAN is a place where various ASEAN activities can be done, both conferences, workshops, performances, meetings, and so on. Our activity began with the appearance of a musical group comprised of various ASEAN young children. What the unique was they used musical instruments from their respective countries, but still be able to harmonized nicely. Then there was a video animation which told us about the story of ASEAN who should work together to resolve existing problems. Cool, and very touching (as usual, Thailand is able to make video / ad / movie which is very touching).
Speech of Glyn T. Davis, US ambassador to Thailand and Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former ASEAN secretary general and chairman of the Future Innovative Thailand (FIT) were the very first formal schedule we had. We got a very informative speech of Mr. Glyn and a very inspiring speech from Dr. Surin. One thing I really remember is how Dr. Surin described the differences between the education systems in developed and developing countries. According to him, the education system built in developing countries, particularly in the ASEAN region, have not been able to achieve the critical thinking skills. Children in school still raced on improving the academic value rather than moral, and no synchronization between the education provided by schools and education that parents do at home. Therefore, they expected us (YSEALI GenEdu 2015 delegates) to be agents of change of education in our respective countries.
After that, there was short speechs from each of the ASEAN countries. Indonesia was represented by Muhammad Yunus Adam aka Bang Adam from Aceh. The presentation, which lasted for 100 seconds per country, being a challenge for us to draft a solid and comprehensive speech. Previously, we (the whole delegation of Indonesia) has been discussed via whatsapp to discuss what needs to be included into the speech. As with our predictions, Bang Adam did very well 🙂
After lunch, we got materials by Jason Ho from StrengthsFinder Singapore. Jason Ho discussed about what our character and how our leadership style. once we knew, we discussed in more detail, a discussion with a group of friends, and find out how we can be a good leader by maximizing the potential and the character that we had. My character is WOO (Winning Others Over), Positivity, arranger, Includer, and Maximizer. After that we sticked together in a group of “master project” to discuss the continuation of our project. We did discussions and brainstorming on various issues relating to self-educated, and chose one of the most appropriate topic to form the basis of our project.
After a full day at the C-ASEAN, we went to Asiatique, one of the tourist destinations in Bangkok. There we can enjoyed the Chao Praya River and many souvenir and Thai stuff. But, we just past over the Asiatique, because our goal was to go to a yacht named Orchard-something-i-forget, and dinner on the second floor of this cruise. We ate while accompanied by the beautiful scenery along the Chao Praya river, and also exciting performances of the “artist” Thailand who are very “pretty” (if you know what i mean) hahaha … anyway that was a very full party lah .. after arrived at the hotel, we had to pack our stuff, because the next day we would go to the province of Hua Hin in the South of Thailand.
The next day, after breakfast and put all of our stuff in the bus, we went back to C-ASEAN to continue our next schedule. This time we were dressed smart-casual. We started by listening to a presentation from very inspiring speakers, namely Sattiya Langkaphin from Intel, Michael Teoh and Mallory Loone from Thriving Talents, and Benjamin Amick from USAID. Many things we learned from them. Nah, there are some interesting quotes from them:
“You can the make changes in many different ways. If you can not do from the top of the pyramid, why do not you start with the bottom. “-Sattiya Langkaphin
“You are here to transform people to be like you” -Michael Teoh
“Do not be a conference junky and never start anything” -Mallory Loone
“Preparing youth for employment, connecting youth to leading” -Ben Amick
Afterwards we enjoyed lunch. I realized that it had been two days in Thailand but I haven’t tried (again) Tom Yam and Mango Sticky Rice. My Tom Yam-project finished on that day. And it was, as usual, amazing! I love Tom Yam so much because its taste is very strong, not too spicy, and most importantly: Halal. Hehehe .. but unfortunately, I haven’t met mango sticky rice yet 😥
After lunch, we got further material about caring and sharing society from H.E. Vongthep Arthakalvalvatee, Deputy General of the ASEAN secretariat for the ASCC (ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community). The discussion that was long enough to attract many participants about how we can contribute more to society.
After that there was fun icebreaking from mentors, followed by 3Ls Design Lab: Learning-Literacy-Life Skills. Here we learnt about how to design our projects with the 3Ls order to become an integral and coherent. We also taught the steps to prepare the project and make the key assumption from every step. After that we get together again with the group and made a prototype of our project. After a series of discussions, we created a brand named SelfIE (Self Improvement and Evaluation), a book that became a guide for high school student to make a personal goal within one semester at school. Its function is that children are more motivated to be self-educated, either at school or home, in order to achieve personal goals. We also plan to create a website that could serve as guidelines for teachers as well as to update student’s goals.
After dinner, we went to the province of Hua Hin, Southern Thailand. The trip took about 3.5 hours. When we got there, we were staying at a five-star hotel named Sheraton Hotel Resort & Spa. This hotels which even had bigger and luxurious bathroom than my bedroom in my house really have super facilities and beautiful scenery, because it faces directly onto the beach. We immediately check-in, and immediately entered our room to take a rest. But not for me and Tasha, when we got in the room, we were both training Ondel-Ondel Betawi dance, because tomorrow night we would perform at dinner. We practiced dancing till 12 o’clock at night.
The next day, we were getting ready to go to a distance learning school called Wangklaikangwon School. We were wearing YSEALI T-shirt and proper attire, because after that we had to go to Mrigdayavan Palace, a cultural heritage which is the former house of the Kings of Thailand. Well, in this Wangklaikangwon school I was very interested, because I hope to learn a lot about the education system in Thailand. Apparently, this school is one of the schools that implement distance learning system. Each of learning in these schools, ranging from elementary school level to high school, was recorded. The recordings of teaching and learning activities then will be sent to various schools in remote areas, so that the existing education can be served to those students in rural areas with quality materials and the same teacher with students in the city. Extraordinary! We also invited around the school to see the learning process, as well as visiting various vocational classes, such as technical schools, cooking, sewing, and others.
After that, we had lunch at the school while we were watching several perfomances from students. There were singing, orchestra, and traditional dances. Foods that served were very tasty !! Absolutely typical of Thailand, even I prefer these foods than those in the hotel, hehehe. But still, I haven’t met with mango sticky rice yet 😥
Once our tummy was full, we went to Mrigdayavan Palace to attend a series of cultural tours. We enjoy the beauty of the architecture of traditional Thai custom home building overlooking the beach. Very comfortable and at ease, unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside the house during tour.
Afternoon, we arrived at the Sheraton hotel and went to the ballroom hotel to see a presentation from Nati Sang, CEO Makerspace. He explained how to make a good presentation and attract viewers, and not boring. In addition, he also taught us the ways to answer questions from the audience who have “unique” type, for example, if the question from the audience is too convoluted.
After that we sticked together again with the group to discuss our master project. we establish selfie prototype project and prepare a presentation. After that we went back to our rooms to prepare for ASEAN United Night: Dinner. That was when me and Tasha featuring traditional Betawi dance called Ondel-Ondel dance. Not only us, there were also Frischa who read poetry and Wisnu who showed Balinese Dance, they are both from Bali. There was also Dhia showed Plate Dance from West Sumatra. After that there were many appearances from other countries. We all had fun and enjoyed our night!!!
After dinner, I and my group gathered in the hotel lobby to discuss the presentation of our group. Armed with the knowledge that we’ve got from the mentor about creating a prototype and Nati Sang about making an attractive presentation, we all constructed our projects until late night, actually we just closed the discussion at half three in the morning. I didn’t know for sure, but maybe Chow and Gian went to bed till four or five in the morning because they were still enjoy to discuss various things. I was able to sleep at three in the morning and had to get up at five in the morning for the morning prayer.
The next morning, we packed all of stuffs and then check out from the Sheraton. After breakfast, all delegates gathered in the Ballroom of Sheraton to present our “master project”. We were only given a period of 7 minutes per group. Unfortunately, my group didn’t successfully complete our presentation because of time limit. There were also other groups who didn’t finish their presentation. But we were quite satisfied with our presentation. Whatever the result, the important thing is we’ve done our best.
After that, we had lunch. There were unique things done by Gian. We ate at one big table together (plus Nick) then we wrote messages on paper that has been inscribed with the names of the group members. Very very exciting and we could become closer as a team group.
After lunch, we listened to the last material from Samy Alim, a Professor of Education, Language, and Anthropology, Stanford University. He gave us material on Diversity in Education: The arts and Culture Mix in the ASEAN context. After that, the organizers announced any group that will be given funding to implement their project. Unfortunately, my group didn’t get the grant. But it doesn’t matter, we would still be doing positive activities in our respective countries. We have a responsibility to YSEALI who has given us the opportunity to be a part of this program. Therefore, it is a must for us to contribute to the progress of education in the ASEAN region. In addition, I will try to implement SelfIE project at the school where I teach, which is Sekolah Alam Cikeas. Hopefully it can work well so.
And then, it’s time to say goodbye !!! The committee presents a snapshot videos of our activities, which made us laugh and cry at the same time. Time flies so fast! Our activities would end up here, because tomorrow we had to go home to our respective countries. We held hands and sang the song “When I See You Again” from Wiz Khalifa. We took pictures till our knee soreness, then headed for the bus back to the S Ratchada hotel in Bangkok.
Arriving at the hotel, we were given a meal expenses so that we can chose which place would be for our dinner. I and selfie group and several other delegations went to The Street Mall for dinner (because that’s the closest place to eat). And you know what, I finally met with Mango Sticky Rice !!! Although the price was quite expensive for a kind of dessert, but I really enjoyed it. The last time I ate Mango Sticky Rice was a year ago, when I attended the ASEAN Science Camp at Chulalongkorn University.
Oh yes, talking about the ASC 2014, my buddy Som and her bf, Ta, came to the hotel to meet me !!! waw I am very touched because they were coming all the way from their house to meet me, and tomorrow she had final exams in college! we did a short chit chat in the hotel just to vanish all of the missing feeling. I love her so so much, thanks for coming to see me, Som !!
After that, we didn’t immediately return to the hotel. We walked to a nearby night market to look for a souvenir. Unfortunately, the site didn’t sell a variety of typical Thai stuff, because it’s not central souvenirs. Then we returned back to the hotel and took a rest. In the hotel room, I wrote a message to the members of my group and also to my room mate on Indonesian postcards. I wrote with tears in my eyes. Tomorrow I had to part with them. And I share the postcards in the morning after breakfast.
The next day, I took time to go to a nearby supermarket to buy some souvenirs. As u know, if I didn’t buy anything for sure later many peoples around me would be wondering and asking for souvenirs.. hehehe. And finally me, Irma, syifa, and ndang, fellow Indonesian delegation who also wanted to buy souvenirs, went to the supermarket near the hotel to buy some snacks, we also didn’t have much time because we had to leave the hotel at 11 am. At the supermarket, I met Jack, my Thai friend also. We first met when there was a youth program in Korea last year from NCYOK. Before i went to Thailand, I was already promised to meet with Jack, and just like Som, he was coming to Ratchada to meet me. I only met Jack in a very short time, whereas Jack had planned a tour around Bangkok with me. ahh, so sad lahhh…
Exactly at 11 am, our van came to our hotel to take us to Don Mueang. That was the end of my story on the YSEALI GenEdu 2015 program. So much knowledge and experience I’ve gained over there. I can also add my social network with many ASEAN youth who care about education. This is one dream that I want to accomplish, which is to be able to meet and collaborate with ASEAN youth in order to promote education, especially in Indonesia. Of course, our friendship will never end here. We will continue to keep in contact and share many things or ideas. Because sharing is caring !!!
Jakarta, December 19th 2015
Rindah Jhayanti, Indonesian Delegate