Date: 31 October – 5 November 2017
By: Puden Tsang (Delegate for the Singapore Brunei Youth Leaders Exchange Programme)
Youth development is and will always be a keystone of what I believe in and have great interest for. This is why I felt a resonance with the recent Singapore-Brunei Youth Leaders Exchange Programme (SBYLEP) and their theme of “Youth Empowerment”.
I was pleasantly surprised when I received confirmation to be part of the Singapore Contingent to co-lead the Singaporean delegates in this prestigious program. Through this programme, I got to experience a different culture, understand the initiatives they have for youth empowerment and gain unique perspectives in tackling social issues and challenges. It was also a great opportunity for me to grow personally. The teams’ support and enthusiasm made it easy for me as a leader and they embodied true teamwork and leadership.
The activities planned throughout SBYLEP gave us deeper insights into the Brunei’s way of life – their efforts in maintaining culture in an ever-changing social landscape and their future plans in youth development. We even got the chance to visit the Temburong District, take a trip to Ulu Temburong National Park and understand the “Heart of Borneo” initiative to preserve nature in the country.
Here are four key takeaways from this trip.
1. Encouraging the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Brunei’s government has an innovative approach in aiding the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The government has set up a one-stop centre that includes representatives from various government ministries which are required to establish a business. In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, I believe this could be a point of reference for us when we look to empower youths by incubating budding entrepreneurs and inculcating the entrepreneur mindset.
2. Building Strong Bridges
I am proud of my Singaporean heritage and how far we have come over the last 52 years. We will continue to grow as a nation, where one of our strengths is our ability to come up with standards, procedures and guidelines. But we should never let these systems make us lose sight of why we are here in the first place. Every relationship takes time and effort to build up and that includes the friendship between Singapore and Brunei. We had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony of the Abode of Peace – Lion City joint exhibition and I had the privilege of sharing the stage with the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Brunei as well as our Minister Grace Fu of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, to share our takeaways from SBYLEP. It taught me to appreciate the intricate work behind the scenes that helped to maintain the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and Brunei. This includes the Golden Jubilee celebration of Singapore – Brunei Currency Interchangeability Agreement.
3. Serving Those You Lead
It was a humbling experience to receive such warm reception and hospitality from the Bruneian Delegates. They have modelled to us that actions speak louder than words. Throughout our stay in Brunei, they ensured that we were well fed, well informed and was always enthusiastic in sharing their experiences and personal stories with us. This exemplified how in order to be a great leader, we need to start serving others, take initiative, find common grounds to connect with people and anticipate and provide for the needs of the team.
4. Making a Positive Impact
Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” During my time there, I have learnt that no matter how small or insignificant you think you are, you can still make an impact. It comes down to a matter of choice. Always choose to be a positive influence, always be humble and always be ready to challenge your perspectives and grow from them.
To my Singaporean and Bruneian friends, thank you for making this programme a fruitful journey for me. I look forward to meeting up with everyone soon!