THE 36th SHIP for South East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) this year, which brought together a total of 11 national leaders and 319 participating youths (PYs) from 10 ASEAN countries and Japan, sailed into Muara Port today aboard the Japanese ship, the Fuji Maru.
Aimed at promoting friendship and mutual understanding among youths of Japan and ASEAN member-countries, the Japanese-sponsored annual program is being organized from October 27 to December 18 on board the ship. While at sea crossing the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean until reaching the final destination in Tokyo, Japan, PYs or the ‘Goodwill Ambassadors’ involve themselves in group discussions and other activities that promote group dynamics and inter-cultural understanding.
This year’s program officially started in Tokyo where the ‘goodwill ambassadors’ had their chance to pay a courtesy call on their royal highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino (Kiko-san herself was an ex-PY of SSEAYP ’86 and stayed with a lucky foster family in Kg Ayer during her homestay in Brunei where she tried eating Ambuyat,too!) before they set sail from Tokyo to six port-of-calls including Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Bandar Seri Begawan and back to Japan again. They will also visit Myanmar by air during the port of call activity in Thailand.
For Brunei Darussalam, this is the country’s 25th participation in the program when seven ‘observer’ youths (including yours truly) first represented the nation to join other youths from six ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore and Thailand) and Japan in 1984. Only the following year did Bruneian youths took part fully with the complete contingent of 35 participating youths from each country then to sail on board the Nippon Maru.
However, since the ASEAN membership increased some years back to include newcomers Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam respectively, the total number of participating youths from each country was reduced to some 20 PYs and a bigger ship, the Fuji Maru, was built by the Japanese Government to cater to a much bigger passenger capacity. Since the program was first launched in 1973, more than 9,000 youths from 11 countries have, to date, joined the SSEAYP.
Personally, I’m quite happy that I was one of the pioneering batch of youths to have paved the way for hundreds more Bruneian youths over the years to be given the opportunity to interact with their counterparts from the rest of ASEAN and Japan in this mutually beneficial program. LONG LIVE SSEAYP! 🙂
~~ Fuji Maru, sailing the blue, blue ocean ~~