YSEALI U.S. Fellow Summer 2017 Cohort:
The second half of the Fellowship has been even busier than the first half! My host Kar Lye and I were able to travel to an indigenous peoples village in Pahang, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. In Pahang, we met with local villagers and toured their recently built community center. Made primarily of bamboo, the center is used as both a public gathering space and school for the children that live in nearby villages. Kar Lye’s organization recently assisted in the construction of restroom facilities for the village, including the first indoor toilets with usable running water in the area. After our tour, we joined the villagers for a barbeque and impromptu swim in one of the nearby rivers.
The following day, I was able to take a tour of the University of Malaya with Dr. Zul Ilham and Dr. Abdul Halim Sulaiman. We walked through the University’s botanic gardens and identified several plants and vegetation native to Malaysia. Following our tour, Dr. Ilham accompanied me to meet with Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Tun Abdullah served as the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia from October 2003 to April 2009 (“Tun” is a formal title given to former Malaysian Prime Ministers). We discussed my impression of Malaysia and talked about the benefits of the ICMA/YSEALI Fellows Program. It was quite the surreal experience to drink tea with the former prime minister of Malaysia in his home!
Next, Kar Lye and I met with Yi Wei Lim, Counsellor for the City of Petaling Jaya. After riding through the city using Petaling Jaya’s new OBike bike-sharing program, we had lunch and accompanied Counsellor Yi on a site visit to a local drainage project. As the public works coordinator for the City of Goddard, it was interesting to compare how infrastructure complaints from residents are received and how the city responds to those complaints.
The following day, I flew to Penang to meet with Councillor Syerleena Abdul Rashid to tour the administrative offices of the Penang State Government. After a brief meeting with the State Minister of Local Government in Penang, we spent the next two days touring the capital city of George Town. The historical core of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that hosts the George Town Festival, an annual, month-long festival celebrating the arts, culture, and heritage of the community.
Overall, the trip was a whirlwind of travel, learning, and cultural and professional comparison. I immediately recognized early in my visit that my ICMA Fellowship was a once in a lifetime experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the staff at ICMA Global Programs for facilitating such a unique program. Finally, I would like to thank my friend and host Kar Lye Tam for organizing such a comprehensive, action-packed two weeks of programming and education. My experiences hosting two wonderful ICMA/YSEALI Fellows in Goddard, Kansas and traveling to Malaysia to learn about their legislative process reaffirms the impact and importance of the program, and the City of Goddard looks forward to participating for many years to come. Thank you to everyone for making this experience possible!
Justin Constantino, Assistant to the City Administrator
City of Goddard, KS