In late 2021 the Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) and Equus YouthBuild staff conducted a virtual cultural exchange with a youth entrepreneur and occupational professional in Myanmar as part of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellows Program (YSEALI PFP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of State.
The cultural exchange was coordinated in partnership with Global Ties Arkansas, which unites emerging and existing national and international leaders in networks of friendship and understanding through educational programs, cultural exposure and productive collaboration, linking Arkansas and the world to help build a state that is a thriving part of the global community.
Selected through a highly competitive process, Fellows represent the next generation of emerging leaders (age 25-35) from eleven countries in Southeast Asia. Fellows have at least two years of experience in Economic Empowerment. Relevant topics include Social Entrepreneurship, Community Development, Women’s Empowerment, NGO Management, and Small Business Development.
Due to COVID-19, professional fellowships in 2021 took place virtually. YouthBuild participants connected in real time for 10.5 hours on the other side of the globe with Phyo Htet, the Founder and Managing Director of the Career Assessment Studio, an agency that provides career training and consultation services for young adults. Ms. Htet introduced them to Myanmar culture, religion, education, and cuisine. The American students were briefed beforehand on the political situation in Myanmar, and to be sensitive about some questions.
After the cultural exchange, YouthBuild students reviewed and discussed the 2021 Pew Report on how the U.S. is seen through the eyes of the rest of the world.
Tentative plans are being made between YouthBuild staff and Ms. Htet to construct and implement an international youth entrepreneur symposium between the U.S. and Myanmar in late spring or summer 2022 if her plan is approved for funding by the U.S. Department of State.