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BELTEI International University Student

Shared his experience to pass and join the

Young South East Asian Leader Initiative (YSEALI)

Seth Sounvisal is one of the six Cambodian youths who was chosen to participate in Young South East Asian Leader Initiative (YSEALI). The 6-week Program conducted in the United States was initiated by U.S. President Barak Obama. Visal, a student at BELTEI International University studying Master of Arts in TESOL, shared his experience during the application process through selection to join the program.
1. Preparation
This young, Phnom Penh-born student revealed that information from people and other sources of information are important. For this reason, he actively visits various websites such as Facebook and Twitter.  He contacts individuals that can provide information related to any international exchange programs or scholarships. For instance, Visal obtained the information related to this program from a Facebook page.  Upon further research, he decided to submit his application to join.
Visal's second principle was that working-knowledge of digital technology is essential. He claimed that technology enables extensive research and asserted “on Google's search engine page, I can do many kinds of research by just typing in what I want to know, and then clicking on trustful websites”.  In addition, this young, brown-skin man identified advantages and disadvantages of online social networks.  For example, he said that if we use social networks properly, we will uncover good information and news.  However, if we use social networks too much without clear purpose, they can waste time.  “For me, if I use Facebook for 30 minutes, I will first look at information on the pages that I’m interested in, for example, an English Language page. If I get into an online IELTS group discussion, I will research information related to the topic.  Then, I will use Facebook as usual.  If we only log into Facebook to chat and comment with friends, we will be addicted to it without utilizing its benefits,” Visal added.
His third point is bravery.  This young parliament official said "we have to defend our belief and pursue what we want". He added "actually, this program was not suitable to my abilities.  It involved risk management for natural disasters such as floods, fires, the legal process and so on, which was more suitable for people working at the sub-national level management.  However, I explained to them that I work at a place that forms law and national constitution, and I am also a representative of Cambodian citizens and controller to the government. For this reason, I will be able to raise all relevant issues to all parliament members to consider”.  He also described how he established the evidence to persuade the committee to become eligible for the program.
The last point is English proficiency, leadership and voluntary service.  Visal said that English proficiency is at the core of participation in such an international program.  His leadership and voluntary service were significant factors the program committee considered when choosing him to join because they demonstrated his participation and his capability in decision-making. “The type of voluntary service isn't as important as the experience and competence leading groups of people to help society,” he explained.
2. Process of applying to join the Young South East Asian Leader Initiative (YSEALI)
After receiving the information related to YSEALI, Visal stated that candidates must provide the information specifically requested on the online application. It takes approximately 2 months for the application to be considered.  If applications pass the evaluation process, candidates will be notified by email stating that they have passed the first round. The candidates will subsequently receive a call from the US embassy in Cambodia to schedule an interview.
The interview is conducted online via Skype.  Visal stated that when he was interviewed, there was a group of 6 to 8 people from the US Embassy in Cambodia, including the benefactor of the program and members of the US government, who participated. After the interview, he had to wait for confirmation via email whether he passed or failed. If he passed the interview round, he had to write an essay about a challenge in his community or his workplace.  He had to explain how he would use his knowledge and skills learned from participating in the program to solve those issues.  Lastly, he had to maintain communication with program representatives regarding issues such as visa, bank transfer and reference.
In addition to the above-referenced knowledge, the 33-year-old man shared his life lesson to all youth: in order to achieve success, they must have strong commitment and should not give up. He clarified that “In fact, I applied for many scholarships and I was rarely successful.  I think that most only see my success, but not many see my previous failures.  Do not be afraid of failure.  You must try many times.  If you don’t find success the first time, you should think of it as experience that you can use in the future to be victorious with new opportunities.”



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