Youth Engagement for Better ASEAN

By : Dhimas Handhi Putranto (Indonesia)

"It is always better to light up a small candle than forever curse the darkness"

That was the quote that I said at the ice-breaking activity of Ms. LeAnn Dolly-Powell class about youth engagement this morning. It has been a week already and we’ve got more and more inspiration from all of the activities we have gone through.

Today’s topic was about citizenship and local government and for that purpose we had some sessions with person in-charge of some organizations which related to the topic both governmental and non-governmental organization in Montana. The first session was an inspiring class with Ms. LeAnn Dolly Powell who had done a great job with her special olympic program and was really passionate in raising the awareness about the importance of volunteering activity. One important thing that I learned through this class was about how to engage people in volunteering activity and make it become a dedicated volunteer. According to what was explained, there are 7 key things to do that which are training, communication, work plans, goals, job description, recognition, and responsibility. The class was ended with a game which taught us about how to work as a team and adapt with challenges and obstacles that are facing. My team which consisted of me, andrew, gump, chakriya, and cla was succesful to make the tallest object in this game 🙂

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The Tallest Object We Made 🙂 (Photo Credit: Shanti Johnson)

Next, we went to the downtown of missoula to visit the headquarters of Forward Montana Organization. Forward Montana is a non-governmental organization which focuses on engaging youth in political participation at the United States. The unique thing about this organization was how they are able to attract people to engage for a serious political issue in a funny and sometimes silly ways. According to what Ms. Lucy said, this method had been proven to be one of the most effective way in getting people attention for political concern. Personally, this class was really inspired me with various practical ways that we can do in order to attract people to be engaged in a certain issues and be active to take actions related to that issues.

After having lunch at downtown, we went for another trip to Missoula Police Academy to visit person in-charge of Missoula Local Goverment both from executive and legislative side. From the executive side, we had a session with Mr. John Engen, who is the current Mayor of Missoula. While from the legislative side, we met Mr. Bryan von Lossberg, who is a member of Missoula City Council. Through both session, we could compare clearly about how the government at both side had fulfilled their function to solve the problems especially related to environmental issues in Missoula. The precious experiences shared by both speakers was really valuable and gave us new insights about the role of local government in engaging people to be active and get involved in developing their community. After discussing the role of both sides of government, at the end we had a well rounded overview of the political issues of local government in the last session with the author of "Community and The Politics of Place" book, Mr. Daniel Kemmis, who was also former Mayor of Missoula. Mr. Kemmis experiences and perspectives in leadership and political issues has helped us understand about the values of democracy in the United States and about using politic as a tool to gain power and use the power for serving the society.

Last Session with Mr. Daniel Kemmis

In the evening, we had a free time and we used it to attend a cultural activity called Shakespeare in The Park. That was my first experience to see an american theatre live and it was very nice. The play was titled "Cyrano de Bergerac". It was a fictionalization story of Cyrano de Bergerac life which was written by Edmond Rostand. The play was performed by a group of professional touring theatre group named Montana Shakespeare in The Park (MSIP). The combination of both drama and comedy in the play had made the play become very entertaining for the audiences.

Montana Shakespeare in The Park Cultural Activity

Through all of the things that I have experienced today, I got an understanding of the importance of engagement especially youth engagement in developing a community. That is why, it is important for ASEAN as regional community to work in the issue of raising the awareness of their people especially youth as the future ASEAN leader to be engaged and participate in taking action for solving the problems and facing the challenges that ASEAN has in its process to be a strong-connected region.

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