By: Darryl Tan and Syahirah Jhan
From the 26th to the 30th of June 2016, Cambodia played host to the second ASEAN-China Youth Exchange Visit. Students, youth representatives and government officials from the ASEAN region as well as China gathered in Siem Reap to discuss issues related to education and leadership, which was the theme of this year’s event. There were about 18 representatives from respective ASEAN countries and about 60 students from China involved in this visit. The aim of this particular exchange visit was to strengthen regional partnership, particularly between ASEAN and China, and also to deepen the understanding of youth affairs in the region.
The exchange visit is one of the many initiatives resulting from the ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Meeting on Youth (AMMY+3). Similar regional initiatives include the ASEAN Young Leaders Training Program and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Youth Friendship Program. The main aim of the AMMY+3 is to promote the ASEAN education sector and strengthen the involvement of youth in ASEAN community building.
The Malaysian contingent for the exchange visit comprised 8 university students and 11 government officials from various ministries. The university students came from UM, UiTM and UKM, and were from different fields of study, including law, engineering and international relations studies. There were 3 students from the UKM among the delegates.
The first day of the program was for the main conference, in which country representatives presented issues concerning youth education and leadership in their respective countries. We were exposed to how different levels of society, including the youth, government and private sector, were contributing towards the development of education and leadership in their respective countries and in the region. We also learnt more about the challenges they were facing. Towards the end of the conference, there was a brief discussion among delegates about what can be done at the regional level to address these challenges.
On the following days, the contingent was brought to visit four famous temples in Siem Reap. This was a chance to learn more about the history of the Angkor Empire and Cambodia. The trip ended with a cultural performance by each contingent. Throughout the exchange visit, there were several opportunities to establish networks with the youth from other countries.
Overall, the exchange visit was an enlightening program. As students of the East Asian studies program, the event provided useful firsthand insight into the efforts made by ASEAN and China to strengthen rapport within the region.