1 December 2023

Envision a Better World of 2050 with the ASEAN-Japan Youth Forum: Take Actions for Social Change 2023

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

The ASEAN-Japan Youth Forum: Take Actions for Social Change (TASC) 2023 concluded successfully on 25 November 2023 in Tokyo, Japan after a span of five months in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan, with participation of 30 youths from 9 ASEAN countries and Japan.

The ASEAN-Japan Youth Forum: Take Actions for Social Change (TASC) 2023 was implemented jointly by the Kamenori Foundation, Japan Foundation, and the ASEAN University Network to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation. The programme aims to provide an opportunity for young people from ASEAN countries and Japan to meet, learn, and work together on considerations, cooperation and actions related to what they can do to confront global issues.    

Set under the theme “Envisioning a Better World in 2050,” the programme gathered 30 youths from 9 ASEAN and Japan explore and pursue this question through further inspection into three subtopics of ‘Ageing Society,’ ‘Environment and Disaster Prevention Education,’ and ‘Diversity.’

The programme was divided into seven phases, featuring both online and on-site sessions for students to interact with peers from other countries and engage with experts who are working in the fields to tackle societal issues under the three topics. The seven phases of the programme included:

1. Online Seminar 1 

The first online session set a stage for the students to get to know one another through ice-breaking activities and orientation. Joining them in this session was General Incorporated Association, Global Incubation × Fostering Talents (GiFT), an organisation that promotes global citizenship in Japan and abroad and works to nurture the next generation. GiFT would also serve as a general mentor for the students throughout the programme in workshops and lecture sessions to help the students polish their cross-cultural communication and formulate questions they wish to tackle during the programme. 

2. ASEAN Field Trip

Following the first online session, the students embarked on an excursion across three ASEAN countries of Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. A visit to each country exposed students to works that are being done by experts in each subtopic for their local communities, with specific focus on ‘Ageing Society’ in Thailand, ‘Diversity’ in the Philippines, and ‘Environment and Disaster Prevention Education’ in Indonesia. To maximise their cross-cultural exposure and first-hand learning experience, the students were also accompanied by local mentors, who would provide them with feedback and guidance regarding each subtopic.

3. Online Seminar 2

The students returned to the online seminar with GiFT to discuss and reflect on what they had learned in the three countries. The second online session also served as an opportunity to start formulating ideas for the final presentation, a culmination of their visits which would include their action plans for taking on one of the subtopics of their interest. The presentation was to be given in a public symposium, set to take place in Tokyo.

4. Japan Visit

The students then embarked on an excursion to Japan, where they visited Hiroshima and explored a special topic of ‘peace’ which served as a vital foundation for thriving society. The students paid a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with the cooperation of the Peace Culture Village. The students also had the opportunity to visit Japanese organisations who were tackling the three subtopics they explored earlier in the ASEAN field trip as well.

5. Symposium

The programme came to a conclusion in Tokyo, where students delivered their presentation and action plan in a public symposium. Apart from the experts and local mentors who had guided the participants in three subtopics, the symposium also welcomed H.E. Horii Iwao, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, along with dignitaries from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan. Each presentation was followed by feedback from the experts along with a question-and-answer session with the audience.

6. Wrap-up Seminar

The students attended a final seminar in Tokyo, where they reflected on their growth and learning since their participation in the programme while also discussing their action plan to create a better world for 2050.

7. Programme Follow-up

TASC 2023 aimed to build a network of ASEAN and Japanese youths who are committed to bringing change to the world following the conclusion of the programme. The programme is now deliberating on platforms and activities to keep the participants well connected following the conclusion of the event in Japan.

The programme was well-received by the participants who had shared with us how the five-month journey had served as transformative experiences for them in building new friendships, exploring future outlook, and honing their skills for enacting changes through hands-on activities and site visits.

“The TASC program was a life-changing experience to me. It met me at a time in my life where I was struggling with finding my footing in the world and finding direction in what I do. The program fostered in me a newfound hope that development and progress are achievable through collaboration and understanding. Most importantly, it taught me a new meaning of friendship, love, and peace. To my newfound TASC '23 family, thank you for having me. It may be the end of a core memory, but I know that this is just the beginning of something beautiful.” - Ms. Shane Dominique D. Ubana, Ateneo de Manila University

“I want to express my deepest gratitude for the incredible opportunity to participate in the Take Action Social Change Program. It is truly an honour to be part of a program that is so thoughtfully tailored to the specific needs of students, focusing on our chosen theme. The field trip, excursion, workshops, and presentation of the action plan have been nothing short of amazing, providing a holistic experience that goes beyond the classroom. I am excited to contribute to positive social change and am immensely thankful for the enriching experiences this program has offered.” - Ms. Andi Ameera Sayaka Cakravastia, Institut Teknologi Bandung

“TASC 2023 program provided a transformative learning experience by providing direct exposure to relevant study interests through visits to impactful organisations addressing societal issues in ASEAN and Japan. The program also played a crucial role in building international friendships between ASEAN and Japanese students, offering a first-time opportunity for me to connect beyond my homeland and gain enriching insights from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Importantly, the experience encouraged me to take immediate action, fostering a sense of responsibility and a drive to contribute positively to my community using the acquired knowledge and skills.” - Mr. Salman Albir Rijal, Universitas Gadjah Mada

“TASC 2023 offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for would-be leaders to gain hands-on experience of heated social issues through a vast array of insightful site visits, interactive workshops, and thought-provoking lectures. We had the opportunity to engage in discussion sessions where we collectively devised an action plan to address the aforementioned issues applicable to Southeast Asian countries and Japan. Throughout meaningful capacity-building activities, the program provided us with a dynamic platform to challenge our outlook on the region, reflect on our contribution to society, and equip us with adequate confidence and skill sets to truly make an impact in the foreseeable future. The program ended with friendships established and cemented between young leaders willing to be catalysts of change, marking a triumphant celebration of 50 years of ASEAN-Japan relations.” - Mr. Pham Hoang Khang (Eric) from Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City

The AUN Secretariat would like to express its sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the Kamenori Foundation and Japan Foundation for this valuable experience for ASEAN youths to learn from experts who are making changes in the real communities and the forg of partnerships with peers from across the ASEAN region and Japan. It is our best wishes to all the participants in bringing changes to society and being the driving forces for a brighter future in 2050 as well.

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