Being a youth is known to be one of the best and most promising phases one will experience in their lifetime. During that period is where you will have the most energy, opportunity, potential and support from many resources in order for you to achieve great things and create an impact not just in your life but others as well. Nonetheless, great things do not come easily. Even if you have all these potential but fail to utilise it in the right direction, your youth will pass you by in a blink of an eye. So how can you ensure that you are using your youth the best way possible?

Volunteerism is the answer! In my opinion, being a volunteer is the best decision I made while I am still in my youth. There are many types of volunteering opportunities that you can join today especially the awareness of volunteerism is more widespread and connection among youths internationally are one step closer through the existing of social network. I had my fair share of experiences volunteering for youth programs within Malaysia and abroad. Undeniably both have their own uniqueness and specialty but I would like to share with you the perks of being an ASEAN youth volunteer.

ASEAN Youth Heritage Leaders learned the Indonesian Saman Dance altogether for the Grand Celebration.

ASEAN Youth Heritage Leaders learned the Indonesian Saman Dance altogether for the Grand Celebration.

The ASEAN region is a melting pot of people and cultures and yet we have distinct similarities. For example, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore belong in the same Nusantara. This happened to be the same with Thailand and Laos culture and language.  Overall, ASEAN youth volunteers will less likely to experience culture shock when they participate in an ASEAN volunteer program. We have basic understanding of each other but we still can learn a lot more through our different national identities.

Group photo during lunch with AYHL from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia - on a cup of good old ASEAN rice!

Group photo during lunch with AYHL from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia – on a cup of good old ASEAN rice!

Besides our similar culture, I find it lucky for us to have the similar delicacies because I just love to eat. Based on my observation, the delicacies within this region are not much different such as curry and sticky rice which can be found in most ASEAN countries. The only difference is the name of the delicacies and methods of preparation. This is beneficial when you are volunteering at the neighbouring countries and it easy for you adapt to their tastebuds. In other words, you are less likely to miss your favourite national dishes.

Generally, the ASEAN region has similar weather from one country to the other. Most of the countries experience tropical climate and this contributes to realistic weather expectation when we travel to the respective countries. This makes packing less complicated for me who dislike the task and tend to over pack. In addition, you will save money from buying winter clothing that can be expensive and impractical because you are not living in a four seasons country.

Often, I encounter volunteering opportunity that requires the participant to bear their own travelling cost and it sometimes become a hindrance in my part to apply for it.  Being a frugal person that I am, I must choose wisely in applying for an international volunteer program especially when I am currently unemployed and about to continue my postgraduate studies. Undeniably, I would not find it a burden if I were to support my own travel expenses to a program within the ASEAN region.  This is because there are many low cost airlines that operate extensively within the region and numerous travel deals for me to choose from. Besides that, there are many ASEAN youth volunteer programs being organised including the extensive networking countries such as the ASEAN+3 that includes China, Japan and Korea. Most importantly, the organisers usually offer volunteering scholarships for its ASEAN participants, which make it convenient for me to apply.

As a conclusion, you will gain many benefits when you join any ASEAN youth volunteer program. Among those are the similar culture background and language, delicious delicacies that are close to the heart, complimentary weather, and economical travelling expenses. There are many other advantages that I can think of but I believe that it is best for you to experience it on your own and discover your own perks of being an ASEAN youth volunteer.

  • saman dance
  • group pic