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The Ship for Southeast Asian & Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP)

By Mr Gerald Tang
President of SSEAYP International Singapore

Ship for Southeast Asian & Japanese Youth Programme, or more affectionately known as SSEAYP (pronounced as SAY-YUP), is an annual youth exchange programme sponsored and organised by the Japanese Government. The programme brings together more than 300 youths from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and Japan, providing them with the unique opportunity to sail together onboard a cruise ship and visit several ASEAN countries and Japan over a period of over 50 days.

The aim of SSEAYP is to foster friendship, goodwill and greater understanding among the Japanese & ASEAN youths. This is achieved through activities during the voyage such as group discussions on pertinent social & youth matters, cultural introductions, and sports & recreational activities. Furthermore, at each port-of-call country, the SSEAYP participants get to interact with local youths, conduct courtesy calls on foreign dignitaries, visit various institutions, perform community service, and experience local life through homestays.

In short, SSEAYP is a meaningful and enriching experience that, more often than not, creates a deep impact on participants’ lives. To illustrate this, here are three Singaporean youths relating their experience participating in the 43rd edition of SSEAYP in 2016:

“I was most looking forward to the homestay programme and it was definitely the most memorable experience during my time in SSEAYP. Homestays enabled me to experience life at the port-of-calls as part of the local community rather than as a tourist observing. I got to connect with my foster families as one of their "daughters, granddaughters or sisters", felt their pain and struggles, joy and blessings of what their life brings them.

Another one of my most memorable experience during the programme was the evening we first boarded Nippon Maru, and had to load all the contingents' logistics as well as close to 350 participating youths and national leaders' personal luggage. We barely knew one another then, but in order to complete this mammoth task before lights out, every individual knew we had to contribute and work well in teams. We exemplified strength-in-unity then, and our efficiency allowed us time to enjoy the night view of Tokyo from the open-deck onboard Nippon Maru before lights out.

Lastly, being offered to lead the Discussion Program Steering Committee, under the kind tutelage of the Facilitators and Administrative Staff, was a humbling experience for me. The challenge of bringing together committee members of various nationalities, cultures and backgrounds; to deliver projects under tight deadlines; was the takeaway that added the most value to my personal growth as an individual in understanding and managing my strengths and weaknesses.”

- Joyce Lim (Singapore Participating Youth, 43rd SSEAYP) -

“For me, National Presentation nights were the most memorable and anticipated. Cultures were explained through performances - bared and delved into with a contemporary edge. The ship lit with love and acceptance. Participating Youths were cheering each other on - we were united and everybody seemed the same.

Next, is the homestay with my Vietnamese homestay sisters. Though the short stint of 2 days, the Quynh sisters made us feel as part of their family; they made us feel comfortable and gave us an amazing experience - learnt about the various districts and Vietnam’s development as an entrepreneur-friendly nation, ate Banh Mi, bought Ao dai and even rode on Vietnam’s busy motorbike streets!

My biggest takeaway from the programme was appreciating the value of simple and sincere giving - a gift as simple as a signed thank you or "smiley" post-it could make my day.”
- Haziq Putra Bin Md. Razif (Singapore Participating Youth, 43rd SSEAYP) -

“Dancing and sharing the stage with talented individuals for the Japan-ASEAN Youth Leaders Summit, Tokyo, Japan was an amazing experience for me, especially since, as a non-professional dancer, I danced in front of an audience that comprised of 11 different nationalities. It was a great honour and a significant personal milestone.

Also, experiencing Japanese high school life was an eye-opener for me – seeing an entire class working together during lunch time with assigned roles; giving them a sense of responsibility at a young age.

This made lunch time really fun and is also a good way to build stronger bonds among classmates. A practice we don’t see in Singapore, but one we should adopt I feel.

One of my biggest takeaways from the programme: Finding musically-inclined individuals from different countries and bringing them together shows that despite our differences, we can come together on a common ground. This shows we are not as different as we perceived us to be.”

- Azurah Jan (Singapore Participating Youth, 43rd SSEAYP) -

SSEAYP International Singapore (SIS)

Once SSEAYP participants have completed the programme, they have the opportunity to join the SSEAYP alumni association in their respective countries. All the countries’ alumni associations together form a coalition called ‘SSEAYP International’ – which serves to maintain the international goodwill and friendships forged during the programme across all the different SSEAYP batches.

In addition, the alumni associations also serve their own respective country members by planning and conducting activities for them. For example, the alumni association for Singapore, SSEAYP International Singapore or SIS, takes part and organises different activities such as:

  • SJ50 Matsuri & Friendship Parade – Members of SIS participated in SJ50 Matsuri & Friendship Parade, the largest element of the ongoing celebration that marks this year’s 50 years of Singapore–Japan Diplomatic Relations (SJ50) which was held with a blast on 29th and 30th October at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, where more than 110,000 participants from various Singapore-Japanese Friendship organisations, institutions and schools marched along Orchard Road from Lucky Plaza to mark the magnificent friendship between our two countries.

  • Chinese New Year Celebration at the SWAMI (Sunshine Welfare Action Mission) Home – organised for the senior citizen residents of SWAMI Home where volunteers from SIS entertained and gave out 'Ang Pows' (red packets containing money) among other activities. Bags of rice, adult diapers and food items were also donated to the Home.

  • The Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation to SIS

    We were honoured to be conferred the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation on 26th November 2016 at the ASEAN-Japan Carnival. It was presented to SIS for our significant contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and Singapore through the support for SSEAYP and to the dissemination of Japanese culture through post SSEAYP activities for many years. We will continue to contribute our best and look forward to the next 50 years of friendship between Singapore and Japan!

    More information about SSEAYP International Singapore can be found at http://sis.sseayp.com or https://www.facebook.com/sis.sseayp.

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