The United States’ commitment to youth in Southeast Asia is long-standing and deep. As President Obama stated, “Prosperity and peace in the Asia-Pacific means more opportunity for us all, including the United States. And I want to make sure we’re building that future together. That’s why today I’m proud to announce a new effort – the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. We’ll join with extraordinary young men and women like you on the things you care about most.”
The United States is partnering with Southeast Asian nations through people-to-people exchanges and programming centered on education, innovation, English language capacity building, and civil society.
DEVELOPING A GENERATION OF LEADERS
The U.S. Government has made significant investments in nurturing a regional network and strengthening leadership skills among ASEAN youth. For example, at the 2013 LEAD ASEAN Youth Summit in Manila, 150 youth delegates worked together to forge solutions to transnational challenges such as climate change, youth unemployment, and trafficking in persons. See 2013 LEAD Grant Competition Winners.
Since 2009, the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program has brought teenagers from all ten ASEAN member countries to the United States. The program promotes civic responsibility and community service with hands-on training that develops the participants’ leadership skills. In addition, Ambassador Youth Councils across Southeast Asia provide a channel for young people to interact with top U.S. officials and get involved in matters of global impact.
EDUCATION OPENS CAREER PATHS
The United States supports academic exchanges with Southeast Asian youth because education unlocks youth’s potential to drive economic and social advances. Each year, more than 700 Fulbright scholarships are awarded to American and Southeast Asian students and scholars for study, research, or teaching. This fall, the State Department launched the Fulbright U.S.-ASEAN Initiative, which supports the exchange of scholars from the United States and ASEAN focused on regional priorities, such as food security and public health.
ENCOURAGING INNOVATION: SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The United States is partnering with Southeast Asian youth to use science, technology, and entrepreneurship to build regional prosperity and find innovative solutions to pressing regional concerns. For example, last fall, Malaysia hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which President Obama announced in his 2009 Cairo address. The summit brought together over 4,000 entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and government officials from Southeast Asia and around the world. It kicked off with Global Startup Youth, a pre-summit that brought together 500 young people from over 100 countries to develop pitches for new ventures. The United States also supports Mekong Technology Innovation Generation and Entrepreneurship Resources (TIGERS@Mekong), a public-private partnership that helps young innovators and entrepreneurs connect with venture capitalists and bring their business ideas to market.
UNDERSTANDING ONE ANOTHER: ENGLISH LANGUAGE EDUCATION
In partnership with governments in the region, the United States is supporting the expansion of English language skills to facilitate better communication between the United States and ASEAN nations. The $25 million Brunei-U.S. English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN will benefit thousands of Southeast Asian youth by improving local English language teachers’ English teaching skills. Each year, the English Access Microscholarship Program provides foundational English language skills to nearly 3,000 bright, economically disadvantaged 13- to 20-year-olds in Southeast Asia through two years of after-school classes and intensive summer learning activities.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The United States encourages youth to give back to their local communities, ensuring thriving civil societies in their home countries. The United States and Malaysia launched the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program, which encourages young volunteers to serve in the region, while enhancing cross-cultural ties and understanding among ASEAN youth. The ASEAN International Visitor Leadership Program will bring emerging leaders from each of the ten ASEAN countries to the United States to examine regional economic cooperation in Southeast Asia, particularly focusing on how to cultivate an ASEAN-based identity in a changing world market. In support of the U.S.-Burma Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity, the United States is working with universities and the private sector to create a Higher Education Partnerships program, which will advance democratic rights, transparent governance, inclusive economic growth, food security, and the health and livelihoods of the people of Burma. The United States is also supporting youth in southern Philippines by investing $11 million over five years in Mindanao Youth for Development, which provides quality workforce development and life skills that integrate problem solving, leadership, peace education, and entrepreneurship.
Business & Investment Opportunities
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