Earth’s Guardians: Nurturing Sustainability across Southeast Asia

Amidst Southeast Asia’s captivating landscapes, where diverse cultures interweave with stunning natural beauty, a perpetual challenge demands immediate attention: sustainable development and environmental preservation.

Community-based environmental education is imperative to the movement. It can guide the region toward resilience. Three YSEALI pioneers who metamorphosed into local heroes share their dedication to preserving the Earth within their communities.

From Classroom to Conservation

With more than eight years of experience as an educator, Tricia Angelika Firman seamlessly integrates her passion for environmental education in the Philippines. Her journey began with curiosity about the Filipino wet market selling thresher sharks on Facebook. Digging deeper into the issue, Tricia was inspired to create “Mermaid Tales,” a children’s book blending literature with environmentalism.

Tricia co-founded Schools for the Planet, a nonprofit that supports communities through environmental education. Her innovative triage approach immerses students’ experience, enhances teachers’ capacity, and addresses school administrative systems.

“Teaching goes beyond textbooks; it’s about instilling a profound perspective that connects individuals to the environment, fostering a sense of responsibility and stewardship,” said Tricia.

Additionally, her strength is reinforced by a robust support system, including the YSEALI community during the East-West Center’s three-week program, further solidifying her commitment to creating her seat in environmental advocacy.

Teaching for a Greener Tomorrow

Hailing from Brunei, Rabi’atul Terudin is a dedicated beacon of volunteerism and community engagement. Co-founder of Borneo Youth Community, she has orchestrated international programs since 2007, such as the ASEAN youth camp in Sumatra and a transformative initiative in Ketapang Regency, Kalimantan.

Beyond her impressive accolades, Rabi’atul’s journey delves into her roles as a teacher and active scout leader. She focuses on sustainability activities such as trash collection and tree planting for students in villages.

Maneuvering the obstacles of managing a diverse team, Rabi’atul accentuates each individual’s value to the environment, creating a shared understanding within the team. A proud YSEALI member since 2015, Rabi’atul’s commitment was further acknowledged with a seed grant at the Women’s Leadership Academy for YSEALI in 2022.

Rabi’atul’s experiences taught her valuable lessons: “I always see myself as a teacher first. It’s a good platform to spread positivity to the children. The multiplying effect will always spread within the community, contributing to their environment.”

Borneo Youth Community: Empowering the next generation for sustainable impact

Blue Voyage to Sustainability

In Vietnam’s vast landscapes, Hung Nguyen is a marine conservation enthusiast and tech-savvy engineer. His commitment to environmental protection unfolds as he intertwines data analysis and website design in his quest for marine conservation.

Participating in the YSEALI Academic Fellowship in Hawaii 2022 accelerated Hung’s journey. Co-founding an ocean conservation organization with two partners, he recently received the YSEALI Seeds for the Future 2022 grant.

“We’re sowing the seeds of change, revolutionizing marine conservation through innovative approaches and community engagement,” he said.

As the operating manager at Bluepreneur Asia Venture, Hung orchestrates events aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Leading global initiatives, he educates youth on social enterprises and supports startups in securing grants, envisioning a tech-driven approach to address marine challenges.

Juggling a full-time job and being a Bluepreneur, Hung prioritizes effectively. One priority is addressing Vietnam’s plastic problem, particularly in tourist cities with rampant improper disposal. Hung’s mission is hand in hand with government-led awareness campaigns to educate tourists about responsible waste management.

Through Bluepreneur, he aspires to contribute to resolving ecological issues, making his journey a testament to the intersection of technology and sustainability

Harmony for Sustainable Coexistence

Navigating Southeast Asia’s challenges, Rabi’atul, Tricia, and Hung guide the light toward a sustainable future. Every individual plays a crucial role in collective sustainability efforts, emphasized by YSEALI’s supportive networks.

These YSEALI heroes’ inspiring journeys deepen the potential for harmonious coexistence with nature through collaborative efforts. Let’s embark on this journey to change the future for the betterment of Earth.

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