PHNOM PENH: On November 13, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. engaged with Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) alumni on the margins of the ASEAN-related Summits in Phnom Penh. The Cambodian alumni civil society leaders and entrepreneurs discussed their various works to advance human rights, sustainable development, and education and to counter human trafficking and environmental degradation in the Kingdom.
President Biden remarked, “We care about our relationship with ASEAN and our connections with people and that’s why I’m here.” The President also highlighted the U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and the next generation of Southeast Asians.
One of the alumni participants, expressing her appreciation for the program, said: “My experience in the YSEALI program changed my life. As a province girl from Cambodia, it made me feel for the first time that someone believed in me.”
This youth event comes after President Biden’s announcement at the May 2022 U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit that the Department of State will double the size of the YSEALI program within three years, allowing 900 emerging leaders to benefit from YSEALI’s academic and professional opportunities every year. Youth from Cambodia and across Southeast Asia will also participate in the December 6-8 YSEALI Summit in Phnom Penh.
Launched in 2013, YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen partnerships with emerging leaders throughout Southeast Asia; expand their skills as effective civic, economic, and non-governmental drivers in the region; and encourage them to work together across borders to address regional challenges. YSEALI includes all ten ASEAN member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) as well as Timor Leste, which ASEAN leaders endorsed on November 11 as the association’s future 11th member state.
Photo by: U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia