I was one of the lucky ones to sail on M.S. Nippon Maru around Japan and ASEAN countries for 51 days with 300 over youths from different cultural background at the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP) in 2014. One of the main highlights of SSEAYP was the homestay experience at the various port-of-call countries. As a participating youth (PY), I had the privilege of staying in a Japanese tatami house, experiencing the “gotong royong” spirit in Brunei and visiting the world’s oldest Buddhist stupa in Myanmar. I also got to immerse myself fully in the lifestyle of the locals and cooked dinner with my host family in Cambodia. Despite the language barrier, we had lots of fun helping our host mother prepare the ingredients to cook up a hearty meal! As a Catholic, I also had an interesting experience of attending weekday morning mass with my host parents in Bahasa Indonesia! Life onboard Nippon Maru was interesting. The PYs typically go through the routine of morning assembly, flag hoisting ceremony, solidarity group activities and discussion group sessions, provided we were not seasick! Catching the sun rising from the horizon, stargazing on the deck and dolphin watching were some of the perks that came with travelling across the ocean. But it was the company of fellow PYs that made these moments treasured.
In retrospect, SSEAYP was an eye-opening journey where I experienced many different cultures. Despite our differences, the issues we face in our respective countries are universal and we have so much to learn from one another. Having friends around the region has increased my awareness and understanding of issues in the region. The ties that we’ve established have made us more connected to each other than ever.
By: Violet Lee Participating Youth of 41st SSEAYP
Do you have what it takes to represent Singapore for this voyage of a lifetime? Get on board and apply to be part of 43rd SSEAYP now at http://bit.ly/sseayp2016!