Building Connections: YSEALI at Brown, Spring '19

YSEALI fellows travelled to the United States to develop skills and foster relationships as part of this biannual collaboration between the Swearer Center and the University of Connecticut.
by Susie Pentelow, Communications Coordinator
May 28, 2019
Three YSEALI fellows study a bright pink and yellow wall display at the Science Center at Brown University.

Photo: Lucelis Perez

The Spring 2019 YSEALI Cohort

Photo: Lucelis Perez

A YSEALI fellow studies a yellow display that reads "Shared Learning Space"

Photo: Lucelis Perez

Two YSEALI fellows studies a wall display in an exhibition that reads "How does immigration policy control people's movement?"

Photo: Lucelis Perez

In March 2019, a cohort of 21 young entrepreneurs traveled to Providence, Rhode Island from 11 Southeast Asian nations to participate in the Spring 2019 Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) program.

Launched in 2013, YSEALI is the U.S. gov­ernment's signature program to build leadership opportunities for youth in the Southeast Asian region and strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia. The Swearer Center at Brown University and the University of Connecticut coordinate the YSEALI program in order to support young social entrepreneurs from Southeast Asian nations through a five-week collaborative learning program.

This year's cohort traveled from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. From March 25 to April 17, the cohort stayed in Providence, where they had the opportunity to connect with Brown students, staff, and faculty, as well as the Providence community. The fellows participated in lectures, walking tours, workshops with local social entrepreneurs, and weekly social mixers that allowed them to build connections with members of the Brown community. The cohort also toured the Rhode Island State House, met with local government officials, and took day trips to Boston, Mass., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

“It has been a joy to watch the YSEALI fellows and Brown community members connect these past two sessions,” said Laura Garbes, graduate fellow and coordinator for YSEALI. “Faculty, staff, and students at Brown, myself included, were all impressed by the fellows' enthusiastic engagement at each event, workshop, and social gathering. The fellows took full advantage of Brown's interdisciplinary, collaborative style of learning.”

Following their time in Providence, the cohort embarked on an East Coast study tour, meeting up with the UConn YSEALI cohort for trips to Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

Throughout their time in the U.S., YSEALI fellows applied the knowledge and skills they gained to develop pitches for their own social enterprises. The cohort concluded their YSEALI experience in Washington, D.C., where they presented their pitches to the whole group before returning home. The fellows not only left equipped with new tools to build and support their own social enterprises, but with relationships that will serve them well in their future endeavors.

“YSEALI granted me the opportunity to engage with both Brown students and the Providence community,” reflected YSEALI fellow Enmax. “And most importantly, it inspired all of us to be determined on being a social entrepreneur.”

As Lucelis Perez, who supports the YSEALI program in her capacity as administrative assistant at the Swearer Center remarked, "I am always inspired at the end of each YSEALI program. The fellows are genuinely dedicated to making impactful change in their respective country. I make fruitful connections with each cohort that I will cherish for a lifetime!"

To find out more about the YSEALI at Brown University, visit the program page on our website.