Sharing is Caring

As I come to the end of my 3rd week in Omaha, I am again reminded of how fortunate I have been to have grown up in a country such as Singapore, where internal conflict and violence are absent.

The visit to YATES this week got me thinking of how lucky we all have been to be in this program, unlike some of the participants in the school which I had an opportunity to interact with and listen to. I met a 33-year old Male, from Myanmar, who told us that from the tender age of 9, he was moved to a refugee camp in which he spent the next 14 years, hoping that another country would accept him as their own. Following that, he spent the next 10 years in the US trying to find a decent job and assimilate into the culture with hopes of providing his family of 3 an honest living.

Through this story, I could not help but wonder how fortunate I have been thus far, never having needed to fear for my life in Singapore. This has also made me think of how much more Singaporeans and myself could do to help other surrounding nations who are in so much more trouble of their own. Having been blessed with such a good economy, I feel that Singaporeans should indeed start learning to give to others around them, regardless of it being monetary or non-monetary means. This has definitely  invigorated me to help spread this message of helping others, especially with the youth in Singapore, with hopes of inculcating it in them through their formative years.

I am definitely looking forward to learning more in the upcoming week, but am also sad that this program is more than halfway through:(

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Reflection on U.S – Vietnam relation after attending a high school class

Hieu Thao, Vietnam

In the second week, I had a blast visiting Scottsbluff and getting to know more about local communities. The most impressive activity to me was the visit to Gering High School. It was so different from what I had been through during my high school time. Remarkably, there were classes that could never found in my country’s public high schools namely International Relations and Intro to Law. I think these subjects are crucial in the context of the modern world because they introduce different perspectives to global issues and equip students with basic legal knowledge. Students can make questions on any thing relating to the subject, as well as present their own opinion about an issue, which make academic lessons become much more understandable and relevant to themselves.

Especially, in one class, I had been asked, for the third time since I was in Nebraska, about the Vietnam War back to late 1960s and early 1970s. I find that many Americans I know still have special concern on this event although more than forty years have passed. This reminds me of a popular song named Hello Vietnam, which is a bout a Vietnamese girl growing up abroad, whose understanding of her homeland is only about war*.

I must say conversations like those always give me an insightful reflection on my country’s history and development process in relation to the U.S. Here people call it ‘Vietnam War’, back to where I am from it is called ‘American War’. Despite whatever it may be named or stand for, it took away relatives, friends, and teammates of both sides. It is not difficult to find a Vietnamese family, who has one member or even more lost or died during that time. Mine is not an exception either. Also, I know some U.S veterans, who used to serve in the Vietnam War now come back and forth to my country for traveling or doing business. I have heard about their loss and obsession in the war just as much as what my grandmother told me about my grandfather and other family members. Same painful story is shared by opponents in the past.

I personally believe that the best way to heal the wounds of war is to enhance dialogue and cooperation toward peace. One of the most obvious evidences of the formal normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries must be my present in the U.S within a program funded by the Department of State. This special trip does not only increase my understanding about the U.S in terms of people, culture, economy, education system, and civic engagement but also gives me a good chance to interact with other young talented fellows from ASEAN.

(*) Link: Hello Vietnam – Pham Quynh Anh

Week 2 : The peaceful life in Scottsbluff

It has been two weeks already we YSEALI delegates came to the United States of America. And again this week, we have a opportunity to go out of Omaha which is a very amazing experience.

We go to Western Nebraska, Scottsbluff. It is a small town in this part of Nebraska – the weather, food are just perfect.  However, the culture here is very different from where I live Thailand because people respect each other much more and aren’t judgmental as we are in Thailand. Moreover, everyone hrrr has his/her own uniqueness and identity, and everyone respects that.

During their visit, I also stay in American homes and learn about the family dynamic as well as what some cultural things that families do. I stayed with host families for a few nights while I was in the Panhandle. I love them so much. We had very deep conversations about religion, politics, about war, and philosophy, and they expanded my vision.

 

 

 

Learning from YES: A Communal Way to Shed a Light for Homeless Youth

Homeless has been a problem not only for developing countries, but also developed ones. In Indonesia, the problem of homeless is complex and complicated. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is approximately 2,000 people are homeless in Omaha, based on http://www.opendoormission.org.

However, people in Omaha have a great way to contribute minimizing the number of homeless youth, through both donation and other actions.

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YSEALI UNO gives me opportunity to learn about how to tackle homeless issue through a non-profit organization called YES (Youth Emergency Services). They have four major programs to offer a safe place for youth in crises, which are: emergency shelter, street outreach program, maternity home, and transnational living program. YES also encourage youth to fulfill their potential through the job readiness program.
In the first week of the YSEALI program, participants visited and volunteered in YES emergency shelter in Omaha.

For me, it was a wonderful experience to directly observe a developed organization which creates big impact to society and gathers many stakeholders to contribute to the projects. People in the shelter are friendly and warm, making the homeless youth not hesitate to ask for help. Even, based on the YES officer, one of the youth came and asked whether she or he can come once a week for taking a bath or not, since it is very difficult for them to find save place to take shower.

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To my perspective, YES shelter provides a complete facilitation for homeless youth. Currently, they have three computers that all connected to wifi, so that youth can search for job information and send their application online. Besides, they also provide clothing such as winter coats, scarf, and warm clothes. Therefore, the homeless people who need it can take some in order to keep their self warm. YES also provide foods and drink, also toiletries and diapers for baby, and give to the homeless people in certain times, so that they will not always rely on YES.
I believe that all of the great services and accommodation that YES has provided is a communal action from society. The government seed grants might be given. However, depending only on the grants is too risky, since it may stops someday. So that, to create a sustainable organization, YES has successfully engaged people in Omaha to take part on the action.

A C T I O N

By Bell (Brunei Darussalam) – week 1.

One of the activities that were plan for our first week of YSEALI program were visiting several attraction of Omaha, Nebraska. However, one visit in particular that astonish me was our visit to one of their significant museum which was the Joslyn Art Museum.

The Joslyn Art Museum has a remarkable architectural design that has become a significant addition to Omaha. The museum itself was a gift form a generous and humble woman named Sarah H. Joslyn in 1931 to the people of Omaha in memory of her husband. An art museum that features some of the best art piece collection that are mostly donated or lend by the good-hearted people and organisations makes the museum the largest art museum in Nebraska. Other than that, the free admission makes the museum more convenient and accessible to everyone.
 

The history of the museum itself has inspired me of how one act of kindness has a ripple effect to others in the future. Sarah H. Joslyn donated a notable building that later contribute to the great Omaha. The unity of the people are visible when they donate to the museum in terms of artworks and monetary which clearly shows the continuous support for the museum in making “art for everyone”.
From this, I learned that it doesn’t matter if you did something as big as donating a museum or as small as donating 5 dollars to support it, what matters is your action. Be it big or small, every actions will have a consequences either to the environment, community or even another person. 

A majestic decorative artwork donated to the Joslyn Art Museum
My favorite “action painting”

SPRING 2017 : This what you came for..

 

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This is the most awaited trip on early 2017! YSEALI.. Finally i made it here in The USA. In the first couple days i can say i did nothing except trying hard to mingle among this brightest youth from the region. It is very interesting to interact with various backgrounds of other fellows. Get to know that all the young talented generation of the region are creating changes in their own countries and the region. I must admit, it’s a bit intimidating to be here to share an idea on a topic with the young experts from all over ASEAN as my readers. Even though it is not my daily job, it’s still a topic I feel very passionate about. Youth Empowerment.

 

We are all here today. Representing all ASEAN countries because we know our problem is undoubtedly serious.  We face an expanding youth demographic boom – more than a million young people seeking their places in the region, living mainly in the developing area – and they all need chances to succeed. For many of them, their prospects simply aren’t equal to their energy and ambition. The Majority of them are facing the lack of possitive adult support and guidance. Many others are facing the other issues beyond their controll.

 

During our visit to YES Shelter, I found it interesting that there is an organization that has a special concern to help youth find their own potentiality. This Non-Governmental Organization basically work to help youth in needs as they create supporting system to make them flourish. That was amazed me when I knew that this NGO has been creating large scale effect in Omaha community. From this organization I learn that the best way to get those young people get back from their own feet is simply by providing critically-needed aids for them which will make those people empowered and self-sufficient.

 

The other scheduled event I was attended is the session with cutting-edge speakers from Non Profit Organizations on the leadership panel at Collage of Public Affairs and community service (CPACS). This enriching session was offered super fun discussion and that was also the most intriguing, deeply respected, touchstone of the intellect! It has the power to grow the worth-exploring ideas that we can implement after we come back to our countries and involve on the grassroots movement.

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On the 2nd week we had a chance to visit western part of Nebraska where we got to discover how the NGOs in small community such as Gering and Scottsbluff enhancing the sustainable relationship with the the government in terms of rehabilitation youth from abused and neglacted cases to be more empowered. it is including process of strengthening the skills of youth so that they know how to effectively make decisions, positively interact with their peers, and act as community member. During our trip in Western Nebraska, local committee also scheduled a session for us to visit The Community Action Partnership Western Nebraska – a professional-run socially driven community, which is known as place for youth who have been physically, emotionally or sexually abused, to recover themselves and live their life normally.

 

I have to admit that this 2nd week in Nebraska state has led me to a big question about the future of ASEAN youth. About 60 percent (370 million) out of the total 620 million of our population in ASEAN are falling below the age of 35. This is amount of people who will shape the region’s progress and future. But in fact, untill now it is easily to see that our young people grow up in the situations where vulnerabilities are everywhere. Child abused, sexual harrasment to young people, and the rate of unemployement youth that is getting increased every single year. By this situation, Do you think is there any possibilites for ASEAN youth to play a pivotal role in the next future in the global scale?

 

I just want to take this ocassion as a rememberance that it is such a reliefe as a part this prestigous program. This is the best platform for us as ASEAN youth to gain knowledge and experience as much as we can, and make this meaningful. So lets do our best for the rest of the day and make the most out of it, because this is what we came for.

 

Omaha, NE 27 Maret 2016.

 

– Dika Sembiring ( Indonesia)

Exchange the culture!

Anyone can be a tourist and travelling around the world. But to be an Ambassador, that’s a different story. Being with another 20 youth leaders from ASEAN region is a very huge opportunity, and by this second week I got the chance to get to know more about each of our culture by cultural performance in West Nebraska!

Not as simple as that. After a very long bus trip from Omaha to Scottbluff, the opportunity is given by YSEALI for all of us to have a host family, separated into such groups and stayed at the home for 4 days. I seen it as a best way to get to know my teammates culture, there were Ploy (Thailand) and Luong (Vietnam). On Wednesday this 22th March, Together we met Kristin & Erick Weibe, a kind family that have a big curiosity in learning other people’s culture from another country. We directly went to the house that has a very classic design, a simple and quiet house with a huge dog called Lucy. There were only them who stay in the house, their childrens sometimes visit them because they already had their own job and stay in different places.

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For the first dinner, we talked about a lot of things including favorite type of music, tradition, culture, religion, family, problems of countries, and also food. I personally learned how American family lives their life by this family, how they keep memories and appreciate all that has been trough their life in that house, how Kristin works in community college and what is her most concerns, how she and Erick managed their farms very well and and role-designed. I also learned about how they communicate with neighbors, to take care of them by giving private spaces as well. I do belive that my host family also learned from our conversation day by day about how we lived our family back in our countries and also how culture can really define each countries personality very well.

On Thursday night, we had our first Cultural Performance!
It was an unforgettable story to be written. We perfomed our Indonesian traditional dances in front of our host families and also we seen other beautiful dances and performance of other fellows representing their countires. Each of performance really brings a vibe that is unique, contains meaning and philosophy of countries by how fellows interpreted their country into an art which is universal for all.

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Still got a surprise! My host family took us to go to the Community College Event called “Around The World” , a Gala Evening held by Western Nebraska Community College Performing Arts, which Kristin was in charge of decorations. We used our own traditional clothes as well to follow the dresscode. We saw students of the Community College sang songs from different countries, wore the traditional clothes from 33 countries around the world and had fun together that night. I got the chance to have a picture with a guy who wore a Scotland traditional clothes. He praised my dress and told that I should had been in the stage with them!

To my point of view, the best way to learn is to get used to it. And this has been very effective way to learn each others culture so far. We know, we share, and we exchange cultures so that it may goes around the world. That is a responsibility as a person to stand as an Ambassador of their country. To represent is not to show, but to exchange!

Second week has been great. Nebraska, bring it on!

Hands to Harmony of Lives

                                                                                          26th March 2017

                                                                                          Scotts Bluff, West Nebraska, USA

It is my pleasure to express my sincere feeling of a visit to Scotts Bluff, West Nebraska, United State of America. I am very impressed by the social environment, social services, love , care, warmly welcomed and norms of the local people out-there live in Scotts Bluff, West Nebraska, USA. It was my very first time practically experiencing and exploring  towards society with such warm and love and I can see the eyes of the people how they welcome each other and me even though I could do nothing for them. As soon as I landed Scotts Bluff, I felt I was welcomed and safe due to such good social environment and love and care of the local people. Additionally, I became to understand how sweet the people from Scotts Bluff and their hospitality towards people like me even they never met me before.

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As the times and days passed by, my learning, observation and social interaction with them make me realize how this small community work hand on hand to take care each other for the betterment of their community and society. They do have good relationships among them which make individual, families and groups in their community inclusive and feel home. Their looks, behaviors and interactions welcome people feel safe and love that is the most I learn from them to apply also in my daily life. The biggest learning of mine also is that people do have compassion and love to take care of each other specifically to homeless and vulnerable people in order to promote peace and harmony of lives in the community and society.  Moreover, I also learn that Churches and local organizations do full fill the needs of the community whereby activities and programs have been organizing and implementing for promoting sustainable peace community and harmony of lives.

 

By: Jugar Smart Man ( Pa Hu)

 

Team Building and Leadership

                                                                                                                                            19th March 2017

                                                                                                                                            Camp Catron

The outdoor trip to Camp Catron on 19th March 2017 imparted me about team building and challenge courses as a team member as well as about the importance of leadership to achieve team goal with the participation of team members. We were divided into two small groups to work out for the team activities whereby individuals had freedom to share his/her ideas and strategies to achieve the team assigned takes and games with positive outcomes.

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In fact, the assigned games and activities were very challenges activities which were not easy to achieve by individual. So, as a team, we not only chose a leader, but created team working environment that individuals are the important leaders of the team in order to develop cooperative responsibilities inside the team. Despite it was not easy to develop trust, belief, unity and togetherness with people from different countries with different norms, cultures and behavior, we-the team successfully developed those by accepting that individual is unit in nature but has share values, issues, problems and challenges to work out in team as human being is social animal whose cannot live alone. Besides, we valued the dignity and worth of individual in the team which make individual belonging into the team and felt responsible for the failure and success of the team.17577963_1290079514422349_1070593677_n.jpg

With the lead of team leader, we, individuals in the team firstly studied about the games and its situations from different angles and did team discussion whereby individual shared his/her plans which were prioritized and developed as action plans and strategies to achieve team goals.  From this team working experiences, I have learnt that not only leader is important, but team members are also important to success team’s goal. Moreover, I also learn that in decision making of the team, individuals’ ideas and opinions are important to consider in order developing inclusiveness, trust and unity inside the team.

By: Jugar Smart Man (Pa Hu)