U.S. President addresses over 500 ASEAN youth leaders during the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at Taylor’s University

President Obama inspires Taylor’s University students to be agents of good
During the Malaysian leg of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), President of the United States, Barack Obama was at Taylor’s University to share knowledge and welcome insights on global challenges in a Town Hall session with more than 500 students – the biggest congregation yet – from all over the ASEAN region.

YSEALI is the President’s signature programme launched in 2013 to strengthen leadership development, networking and people-to-people ties between Southeast Asia and United States. The yearly gathering allows focus on critical topics identified by youth in the region like civic engagement, environment and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and economic development. Since its inception, YSEALI has grown exponentially to 50, 000 members, between 18 to 35 years of age, across the ten ASEAN countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaking to over 500 youth leaders at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall at Taylor’s University today

According to Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr. Hassan Said, “We are privileged and proud to have been selected as the venue for President Barack Obama’s talk for this year’s YSEALI event. At Taylor’s University, we firmly believe in creating a learning environment that will help young people develop holistically – by connecting the education of the mind, the heart and the hands developing tomorrow’s leaders. We are honoured to have hosted one of the prominent leaders of the world at our campus.”

Moreover, thirty students from Taylor’s University were invited to attend the session with President Obama.

Duncan Tsen, a student in the Foundation in Computing from the School of Computing & IT, admired President Obama’s presence in the room. “He was engaging and friendly – it was amazing to witness his connection with the audience first-hand. I felt that he was really speaking to us when touching on environmental challenges and reminding us about the importance of positive human influences.”

He has been working on a multiple award winning mobile application, FeedOn! – a social community app designed to bring industries in food and beverage as well as organisations to fight food scarcity amongst the less fortunate. “Since working on FeedOn!, I was happy to hear him bring up the environmental challenges in Asia – it has definitely put perspective into my project and how I can proceed with making the app global.”

“I was delighted be part of the small group of students at the town hall today – it was a truly memorable experience.” said Najiah binti Roslan, who is currently enrolled in the American Degree Transfer Program and a Maybank scholar. “President Obama’s approach to the questions was refreshing – open and honest,” she said.

For Helena Kumar, pursuing her degree with the School of Education under the Taylor’s World Class Teacher’s Programme, “What stood out most to me was his message on respecting others and that everyone is worth something. Everyone is worth helping and his interaction with us was natural and it made me feel like we were on the same level with him.”

Helena Kumar (third from right) with some of the thirty Taylor’s students at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall today

President Obama believes that leadership begins by caring for communities – that young people are powerful agents for good. YSEALI carries his legacy by fostering community leadership among youths in ASEAN member countries. This is his ninth trip to Asia and the Pacific to reflect the growing importance of the region to U.S. national interests and commitment to advancing broader regional strategy, known as the Rebalance.