04 Dec A Leadership Journey: Archana’s Story
From the 7th to the 11th of October 2019, I was granted the honour to represent Malaysia in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Advancing Gender Equality Workshop in Brunei Darussalam. Working together with Wedu, the US Embassy of Bandar Seri Begawan and The Big Begawan Project, this workshop was an astounding success in all ways.
There were numerous activities held throughout the few days which included site visits, team bonding sessions, design thinking activities and interactive panel sessions. The highlight of the workshop for me had to be networking with bright minds and exchanging ideas for the future. It not only gave me a different perspective of current global issues but also the realisation that we have the strength to solve it together.
Moreover, an exciting project-pitching session was held whereby participants were given the chance to pitch their ideas to a group of judges. The top 5 winners walk away with a small grant to implement their project. My team and I managed to bag the 5th place and was granted US$ 2000 for our upcoming project. This was an exceptionally joyful moment for us as we were passionate about the project and deeply wanted to implement it.
Each group of participants were also assigned to a mentor that coached them throughout their discussions about the project. My team’s mentor is Priliantina, a passionate gender specialist and expert. Throughout the entire session, Priliantina (known as “Pri”) worked with us in ensuring our project was sustainable and effective. She shared with us various ideologies and useful tips for us to adhere in making our project a success.
The most interesting session throughout this workshop was when we visited a long house in Teraja to understand the culture of Brunei from the very natives. Other than meeting and interacting with the occupants of the long house, we also helped ourselves to scrumptious homemade meals and had a first-hand experience in their traditional activities. From learning how to play cultural musical instruments, to making traditional dishes, this experience taught me the beauty of simple life and the richness it holds.
The overall impact of this workshop can’t be put into words so easily. It was a blast of inspiration and a sweep of gratitude in everything done. I made new friends for a lifetime, learnt and experienced new things and more importantly, got a grasp of gender equality in the ASEAN region. Now, as we all have left to our homes, I know there is still fire burning in our hearts to be the catalyst of change in advancing gender equality around the world.
“The world now is too small for anything but brotherhood and friendships.” -A. Powell Davies
About the Writer
Archana is one of the participants from Malaysia at the YSEALI Generation Workshop: Advancing Gender Equality held in Brunei 7 – 11 October 2019.