1st Blog: My YSEALI journey starts now!

Pictures of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiatives (YSEALI) Fall 2019 Professional Fellows – Philippine Representatives from different cohort with the representatives from the US Embassy (The 3rd person from the left is Patrick). This photo was taken during the Pre-departure orientation and YSEALI Alumni Networking Night held last 5 September 2019.

June 28, 2019 when I received a letter from the International City/ Country Management Association that I was accepted as a Professional Fellows on Environment and Sustainable Development Cohort in Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiatives (YSEALI).

As background, YSEALI is U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development of young professionals like me and networking in Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam). It seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. The YSEALI Professional Fellows Program will bring emerging leaders ages 25 to 35 around the world to the United States for extensive six weeks’ fellowship developed to broaden their professional expertise, including four weeks working directly with American counterparts in individually tailored work placements with relevant public sector organizations.  During these placements, Fellows build practical expertise, leadership skills, professional networks and deepens engagement with young leaders on key regional and global challenges, and strengthens people-to-people ties between the United States and co-young Southeast Asian leaders. At the end of the fellowship, over 200 participants from over 40 countries gather during the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC before going back to their own country. (Source: https://asean.usmission.gov/yseali/yseali-professional-fellows/)

Last February 2019, I tried my luck to apply online at the website posted by the ASEAN U.S. Mission wherein series of essays and questionnaires have been requested to the applicants related to involvement on any Environment and Sustainable Development in their own country. Luckily on May 2019, I was informed that I was one of the shortlisted applicants, among the hundreds of submitted application around the world, that will undergo the panel interview with the YSEALI, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), ICLEI Southeast Asia (Philippine counterpart) and the U.S. Embassy. During the panel interview, one of the topics that I highlighted that needs immediate solution was about the water security challenge that my agency, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), is experiencing right now.

Pursuing higher or advance education has always been part of my goal ever since I graduated from college. I’ve always believed in continuous learning that I can do more, personally and professionally. In order to improve my knowledge, I enrolled myself in courses related to environmental planning and management such as Environmental Engineering in University of the Philippines – Main Campus last 2011, Environmental & Sanitary Engineering in National University – Manila Philippines last 2016, and presently taking my Masters in Environmental Management in Ateneo de Manila University. When I see the opportunity to gain knowledge internationally, I applied for the YSEALI exchange program. In this program, I am sure that I will further improve my knowledge about water and environmental management in international perspective. I can diversely use these learnings as a benchmark, by echoing it to my co-employees, to improve the whole MWSS communities in the long run.

Being personally involved in managing water sources projects and operations of MWSS, I believe that I need more tools to improve my capabilities and knowledge about developing and managing water sources. My experience, involvement and knowledge in the project implementation of the natural resource management projects are my distinct advantages which I believe is the main eligibility requirement of the YSEALI on which I was accepted in this exchange program. This exchange program will help me further hone my planning and decision-making skills to continuously manage water sources development programs while implementing measures to protect and conserve the environment.

This October 13, 2019, I will be flying to Washington D.C. to meet my co-professional fellows from other countries and share our challenges and how we wanted to address it. I will be hosted by the Eugene Oregon Water and Electric Board for 4 weeks and I am very much excited to learn from their team.

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