Our Chief Operating Officer Cameron Allan interviewed Khin Phyu Syn Kyi , Public Relations Officer of the first Model ASEAN Meeting Myanmar and 2019 #AAYLF delegate about the success of her latest projects and her advice for young people in the region.
Cameron: Tell us a bit about yourself.
K: My name’s Khin Phyu Syn Kyi or K for short. I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in Civil Engineering. Even though I am not from an international relations background, I have deep interests in promoting relationships among ASEAN Member States and also with its dialogue partners as I believe that connectivity is the way to move forward.
C: What inspired you to organise MAMM (Model ASEAN Meeting Myanmar)?
K: In July 2019, I was selected to be a delegate at the 5th ASEAN Foundation Model ASEAN Meeting. During the program, I learnt and discovered more about the situations of different ASEAN countries and Australia. It gave me a better understanding of being a citizen of ASEAN member states and that we, the youth have the responsibility to know about ASEAN affairs and to get involved in these to improve our own communities. I have come to realize that there are plenty of youths in my own country that do not realize that they are missing out on an important part of their lives and that they need to get more engaged in such activities, not just for the community but also as an individual ASEAN citizen. Moreover in December, I was selected to participate in the first AAYLF 2019 and became a certified Model ASEAN Meeting Trainer by the ASEAN Foundation. During those programs, I realized how we can inspire one another with our different backgrounds. Participating made me more sure that I wanted to do something for Myanmar youth and I felt more ready than ever to organise an event to deliver the best for the youth of Myanmar.
C: Can you explain some of the key steps involved with organising an event like MAMM?
K: The key thing is to be clear of why we want to do it in the first place. With a clear purpose, we built the idea and based on that idea, we started to form a committee with like-minded people that are capable, started planning the timeline and budget, pitching well in order to find supportive partners, maintaining updated communication between the committee members, and to continuing to do what is required despite facing difficulties.
C: What was the biggest challenge you faced while organising the event?
K: As all the organisers were still young students without any regular income, the biggest challenge for us was looking for the funding to make this event possible. And another challenge was that we had to share roles and support one another’s responsibilities as there were just 7 of us running the whole event. Even though it was challenging, we all did not have any idea to quit and made sure to do our best.
C: What was your favourite moment at MAMM?
K: To be honest, I enjoyed every moment, like when I heard the well prepared opening and closing speeches, when I saw the delegates actively asking questions in the panel discussion, when they were having a heated debate during their meetings, when they reached a consensus, when they all clapped after the signing ceremony, when they sung and danced along to each others’ performances. But my most favourite moment would be when their feelings were shared on the last night of the closing ceremony. That moment was both happy and sad, hearing their memories and appreciative words, and knowing that the event had finished successfully and had ended. The end meant we were all back to normal lives but of course, as better versions of ourselves with broadened and improved perspectives.
C: Why do you think building awareness about ASEAN is important?
K: ASEAN has been established for a long time but unfortunately, even the citizens living in ASEAN member states do not know that they are a part of ASEAN, let alone the citizens from other parts of the world. To fulfil the goal of ASEAN, more cooperation is needed between the member states and also between ASEAN and its partners. Therefore, it’s important to know and understand better about different communities in ASEAN. In the near future, I believe, as ASEAN countries are flourishing, the bonds among us will become stronger. Like the European Union in the west, ASEAN soon will be economically and socially integrated. Hence, we must raise awareness about ASEAN among youth now more than ever.
C: Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for other young ASEANers or Australians interested in running an event like MAMM?
K: Please do not hesitate if you have the interest to do so. All that is important is the will and the motivation. Step out of your comfort zone and just try it. Even if you don’t have any experience in organising, even if you face difficulties on your path, don’t back off because we are youth. We are all learning from experiences along the way and improving ourselves and the community from those experiences.