Student from the USM School of Chemical Engineering Represents Malaysia in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Regional Workshop: Marine Warriors

The U.S. Department of State’s flagship program, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), aims to advance regional strategic goals by giving the next generation the connections, guidance, practical experience, and resources they need to lead their communities in addressing economic, environmental, educational, and civic engagement issues. The United States Department of State has provided funding for World Learning carried out in the 2022 YSEALI Regional Workshop: Marine Warriors.

This workshop aimed to promote an understanding of environmental degradation brought on by plastics pollution, acidification, ocean warming, and fisheries management as case studies applicable to the ASEAN region through practical activities such as interactive skill-building sessions, expert presentations, site visits, and a game jam. As a result of these activities, participants have been inspired to work together to investigate potential short- and long-term solutions and implementation strategies to address environmental changes that are having severe and observable effects in Vietnam’s coastal regions and other marine/freshwater environments in ASEAN.

The YSEALI Regional Workshop: Marine Warriors in 2022 brought 100 participants from 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and Timor-Leste to Nha Trang, Vietnam from December 1–6, 2022. The participants were chosen among 1,300 candidates for their commitment to the community, voluntarism, and outstanding leadership abilities. Only eight young people from across Malaysia were chosen to participate in this program.


A 4th-year chemical engineering student, Bol Ram, was the only USM student selected to represent Malaysia in this workshop with seven other delegates from Malaysia. Each participant’s application must go through 5 stages of review before finally being selected for the 2022 YSEALI Regional Workshop: Marine Warriors. Bol Ram is now officially a YSEALI alumnus, which entitled him to grant/support from YSEALI. This workshop enabled Bol Ram to gain various contacts of experts and knowledge, which unlocked another perspective on his life.


During the program, Bol Ram was mentored by fifteen specialists in tourism, fisheries, climate change, and waste management for coastal communities. The mentors include the Director and Regional Coordinator of Climate Action Network Southeast Asia, the co-founder of Set-Jetters, the co-founder of Project Ocean Hope, the member of Malaysian Youth Delegation, the co-founder of impact junkie and researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway, and the University of Nha Trang. He was also equipped with knowledge of game creation tools to use in producing games that address the destruction of the marine environment after the program.

This workshop enabled the participants to create new connections with young leaders from other nations to work together on community initiatives and develop concepts on including their communities in environmental protection. The participants also got the opportunity to learn about the US-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and advance their leadership, project management, entrepreneurial, and digital communication skills throughout the program.

Text by: Bol Ram

Photos by: Bol Ram & YSEALI