ASEAN China Youth Caring and Sharing Programme
Dunman High School was selected by the Ministry of Education, Singapore, to field a delegation comprising 2 students and 1 teacher to represent Singapore at the ASEAN China Youth Caring and Sharing programme. Natasha Sim Li Hong from 12Y6C12, Darryl Tang Chun Tat from 12Y6C11 and Mr Lim Kah Leong Marc from the Economics Department were selected for this purpose. The programme was organised by the Ministry of Education, Thailand, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand, and the AUN Secretariat to mark the 20th anniversary of Dialogue Relations between ASEAN and China.
The programme, which was divided between Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, and Kunming in Yunnan province, PR. China, brought together 45 delegates (high school students and lecturers) to participate in both academic and non-academic activities. These activities served to help participants develop an appreciation of the enormous cultural diversity of the region, promote friendship amongst them, enhance understanding of ASEAN-China relations, and identify opportunities to develop stronger connections between people. The highlight of the programme was a special workshop session designed to bring out the ideas and reflections of the younger generations on how they could contribute to the enrichment of ASEAN-China relations. The ASEAN-China Youth Recommendations was presented to Representatives from the Chinese Ministry of Education, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and also Representatives from the Thai Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs. The Recommendation was later be submitted to the relevant ASEAN-China forums through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.
The trip was meaningful for both students and teacher alike. The students’ reflections are shared below:
The ASEAN-China Youth Caring and Sharing Programme took place between 25th and 31st March 2012. It brought together youth from the 10 ASEAN countries and China to partake in a series of activities to mark the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-China relations.
The programme comprised many lectures which aimed to increase the depth and breadth of our knowledge with regard to ASEAN-China relations. As students in our school’s Bicultural Studies Programme, we were conversant with matters regarding China and were thus able to link many of the ideas brought up during these talks with what we have learnt in the classroom.
However, the programme was not all academic in nature. There were arranged visits to various landmarks such as the Reclining Buddha and Grand Palace in Thailand, and Yuantong Temple in Kunming, which allowed us to have a better appreciation of the cultural diversity of our region. Casual observations of the King’s portrait adorning the streets of Bangkok also made us more aware of the political diversity in Southeast Asia, something reinforced by the lectures, which ultimately stressed the need for the accommodation of such diversity to prosper, something that both of us believe in.
The highlight of the program was the drafting of a resolution which was presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China and the Ministry of Education, Thailand with regard to how youth could be better engaged to promote ASEAN-China relations. This is a matter of great import because such exposure and engagement would better equip youth to take on the mantle of leadership, political or otherwise, in the near future. Many of the participants gave engaging presentations on their ideas as to how ASEAN and China could reach out to youth in order to ensure that current ASEAN-China relations could transcend generations and become stronger. For example, there were ideas about providing opportunities to ASEAN youth to learn Mandarin, and an almost unanimous agreement that exchange programmes and camps such as the ASEAN-China Youth Caring and Sharing Program should be a mainstay in the repertoire of youth events co-organised by ASEAN and China. We talked about what we felt were most essential: belief in our ability as youth to effect change, and to keep an open mind, because without this belief and quality, youth participation in such programmes would not be as meaningful.
And indeed it was precisely because we approached this program with an open mind and an earnest belief that we could make a difference did this program have such a great impact on us.