YSEALI Cohort Represents KSU at their Largest Summit to Date in Vietnam

YSEALI Cohort at the Summit

(September 4, 2019) -

Kennesaw State University’s fourth cohort of Young Southeast Asian Leaders Institute (YSEALI) represented KSU in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last week for a three-day summit examining themes of human dignity, sustainability, community building, and social change.

The cohort reunited with their peers from YSEALI grant partner universities, the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and Arizona State University. At 68 total attendees, this year’s summit was the largest that any KSU cohort has attended since first receiving the grant in 2017. With that in mind, KSU’s representatives definitely stood out amongst the crowd. Of the six projects submitted and selected for presentation at the summit, four were KSU alumni.

Jonathon Dason of Malaysia presented his GoBantu project, a Social Enterprise that aims to cultivate a culture of long term and skill-based volunteering by providing an end-to-end platform for volunteer and donor management. The system provides a fully automated matching system similar to Tinder, to match volunteers with specific skills and field-based expertise to NGOs & NPOs that are in need of skilled assistance.

“Imagine if everyone of us - doctors, lawyers, accountants, programmers - could utilize our skills to help NPOs and charities in need,” said Dason, a current ambassador for Youth Leadership at McKinsey & Company. “How much of a difference can we make?”

Continuing with the theme of youth development, a crucial initiative not only in Southeast Asia but across the globe, Basil Diaz M., from Brunei, presented his project, Relentless Academy. His project aims to enhance the communicative confidence of students from low-income backgrounds through theater arts and language learning. Diaz’s project became a reality this summer when he hosted “A Day of Play,” a one-day workshop for children from single parent homes. During the workshop, participants developed self-awareness through imaginative performing arts-related activities.

“I now have a greater appreciation for people who do this on the daily,” said Diaz, who works as an English language teacher at Jerudong International School in Brunei. “It is no easy feat!”

This year’s summit demonstrated the incredible impact that YSEALI has on its participants and the power of the bonds built during the residency. Of course, it would not be possible without the outstanding faculty at Kennesaw State University who work tirelessly before, during and after the fellows arrive to ensure that they are well equipped to return to their home countries to promote change. Their coursework examines key societal issues within the United States and abroad to develop solutions for today’s pressing world problems.

The YSEALI Grant has been renewed to 2020, and KSU will welcome its fifth cohort in mid-September. This Fall 2019, program leaders are set to encourage more interaction on KSU campus by appointing KSU peer mentors to offer more opportunities for the cohort to connect and network with their KSU student counterparts. This new connection platform is expected to lead to further opportunities for joint efforts on social change in both US and ASEAN communities.