MY AUSA Journey

By: Bun Penghuy

AUSA is an abbreviation for ASEAN University Student Assembly, which is co-organized by Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University. This year it was held from April 5 – 11, 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand. This unique assembly brought students together from different universities in the ASEAN region to share cultures, discuss about various matters in the region, share opinions on certain topics, and establish long-lasting friendships.

The first day of the assembly, students were warmly welcomed by the organizers. A welcome party was specially designed and organized for delegates from the 10 countries. It was not only a welcome party, but also a chance for the delegates to make new friends with other people from each country. Mr. Bun Penghuy, a student from the University of Cambodia, joined this assembly as a delegate. He made friends with a lot of people, especially those from Indonesia and Thailand. During the party we ate, danced and played together. Moreover, all the delegates were divided into groups consisting of people from different countries. Each group had to do a cultural performance that represented ASEAN as one community. What was also good in this assembly is that all delegates were to share a room with a delegate of a different nationality.

There were 4 activities to complete on the second day (6 April 2015). The event started with an opening ceremony at the Thammasat University, Ta Phrachan campus. After that, all the delegates listened to a lecture by Miss. Phasporn Sangasubana, Deputy Director-General of the Department of ASEAN Affairs, on the topic of, “Light Up ASEAN Spirit: molding identity in the ASEAN way.” She gave clear and comprehensive information regarding ASEAN efforts to reach the goal of ASEAN Integration in 2015. Additionally, she mentioned the opportunities and challenges of ASEAN. After the lecture, we embarked on a campus tour of Thammasat University. It was a hot and tiring day; yet, those delegates were still eager to learn about the university. Some people said that they would apply to study at this university for their master degree in the future. Following the campus tour, the delegates watched a debate between students from Chulalongkorn University and those from Thammasat University. They debated on the topic, “The cultural differences among ASEAN member nations is A GREAT hindrance to integration”. After the debate, the audience gave comments on the debate and shared their views on the topic.

The 3rd day we went to another campus of Thammast University. Mr. Phanpob Plangprayoon, Director of the Economic Division of the Department of ASEAN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave a lecture on the topic, “Inspire ASEAN as one: ASEAN’s path forward.” The delegates were then assigned to different rooms to learn more about specific topics including: corruption and politics, education system, economic growth in AEC, energy and environment, and social discrimination. We listened to the lecture, answered the questions from both the presenter and the fellow delegates, debated the different perspectives as a representative of each country, and found solutions to each problem as an ASEAN citizen. In the afternoon, another discussion was brought to all the delegates. This time, the delegates also needed to present their discussion to others on the 4th day; we had to present a solution to each problem. It was the hardest, but most interesting part of the program. Each representative raised ideas and debated so that we could come to a conclusion with a good outline and solutions.

The 4th day was another tough day for the delegates because they had to present their discussion outcomes to the other delegates. Each group had 10 minutes to present their points. Everyone seemed so enthusiastic to present his or her ideas on the stage. In the afternoon, we had a great time at the Ancient City in Samut Prakarn province. Once again we held a competition, this time to find places and answer certain questions in order to be the winner. During the game, we learned about cultures of different countries, especially Thai culture.

The last day was the campus tour at Chulalongkorn University. What really impressed me was that there are 19 libraries in total on campus. Each faculty has its own library, and there is a big central library where the students can find materials for all faculties. In the afternoon, it was the closing ceremony. Everyone got a certificate of completion for this program. Finally, we had a farewell party, which was the last time for the delegates to play and learn together. It was also time for delegates to present their cultural performances. Some danced, some sang songs and the others did role-plays. All of the performances were about ASEAN integration.

I would like to give a huge thanks to the University of Cambodia for sending me to this most useful assembly. I believe I have contributed to the strength of ASEAN integration and the creation of an ASEAN identity by building strong relationships with delegates from other countries, and having a better understanding of the issues faced by ASEAN and the strengths we must draw on to unite as one region. I encourage all Cambodian youth to participate in integration as much as possible and to always be open, accepting and understanding to new cultures and ways of thinking. You may be surprised what you can learn and what good you can do for your nation.