The future of Southeast Asia

“We’re sorry. The service is not yet available in your country.”

It is not uncommon to find many Southeast Asian countries not listed within the services areas of large western corporations.

Growing up, what we call the West, or regions that we have traditionally viewed as prosperous – USA and Europe, has always been a source of inspiration to me. Everything just seems possible there; all kinds of services are available and opportunities seem to always be plentiful.

Our region is not exactly the pioneer of innovation or creativity. We have a shared history of violence, ongoing poverty and an ingrained value of working hard for a living. Aside from the handful of tycoons that dominate Southeast Asian industry, the rest are workers that often feel powerless and are subject to the whims of the ones in power.

But I see the beginning of a change, I see Southeast Asian starting to take the initiative to bring about the change and BE the change. While traditionally we see the image of the white man helping the weak in Southeast Asia, local initiatives to help their societies are growing and getting stronger, especially within the youth community. Yes, we need all the assistance we can get, but wouldn’t it be much better if the spark came from within?

That is my hope for the future of the region; that we may stand up and be strong through our own initiative while still not neglecting the co-operation with our neighbors; that we may provide services useful to our region, through our own innovation; that we can create improvement within our society through our own efforts.

Participants from the 2012 media camp held in the Philippines. Many of them are working in NGOs within their country.

Participants from the 2012 media camp held in the Philippines. Many of them are working in NGOs within their country.

Along that line, it is time our collective voices to be heard. Beyond the cheap travel and friendly locals typically known to Southeast Asia, each person has their own stories and struggles to tell. They have causes and values they want to fight for.

This was the reason we, the youth of Southeast Asia, started SEA Youth Say So. We are ready to speak out, are you ready to listen?

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