A Brief Report on New Business Hub: from San Diego to Malaysia

written by Akmal Sabaruddin, Spring ’18 YSEALI PFP Fellow from Malaysia

In spring 2018, I was selected to the YSEALI Economic Empowerment program and I spent my time in San Diego at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and Hera Labs, Sorrento Valley for an attachment under the supervision of Dr. Silvia Mah. With similar academic backgrounds, we were focusing on organizing entrepreneurial program for academics especially for undergraduate students. Other than focusing on the academic training, I was inspired to see the business hub at UCSD which also known as “The Basement”. This hub was designed to provide a space for entrepreneurial activities such as forums, lectures, meeting spaces for investors and for student’s startups to discuss and develop their product before it’s ready for the market. Apart from that, I also spent my time at Hera Labs, Sorrento Valley during my attachment in San Diego. Hera Labs is a business accelerator which empowers women entrepreneurs and startups to scale their businesses. My time with Hera Labs was really an eye opener for me to move forward in helping student’s startups by providing them with good facilities in a safe business environment.

In November 2018, my U.S. outbound project was selected for funding from the U.S. State Department. This was the only opportunity for me to convince the university management team to develop a business hub for student startups. I finally managed to get a space for the business hub from the faculty management team and it will be called as “FSK (Faculty of Health Sciences) Business Hub”. After trying many times and ways in finding grants, finally I got an approval from the university for strategic research funding. This is the golden opportunity for me to take a lead in the development of the faculty business hub. At the moment, the business hub is still undergoing some upgrading process and it is expected to complete by November 2019. I am glad for the opportunity given in the YSEALI PFP program where I can make a change for a better cause and contribute back to the university and the society.


Outbound Project in Indonesia: Jerod Lockhart and Nicky Pratiwi

written by Jerod Lockhart, Training Officer, Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

This was my first  time traveling overseas, I can genuinely state that it was a trip that will be embedded in my memory for a lifetime! My YSEALI PFP Outbound Project was hosted by fellow Nicky Pratiwi, the general manager of Thisable Enterprise, a local NGO that specializes in improving the economic empowerment for people with disabilities in Indonesia in urban and rural areas. Thisable Enterprise mission mirrors many of initiatives my office undertakes in the domain of transitioned-aged employment.

Bina NusantaraDuring a workshop at PSBN Tan Miyat Bekasi – School for the Blind, I was able to share the podium with individuals from the blind and disabled community who shared stories of overcoming adversity and strategies to help encourage young students and their parents to achieve their dreams. For example, I had the pleasure of meeting both a law and an architectural student who both vowed to use their education to advance the civil rights of people with disabilities. Furthermore, I also participated in a Q & A session with an advocate, and the parents of the students who attended the school. One of the most interesting questions I received from one of the students was how to get the government to endorse and provide more funding towards improving architectural accessibility, similar to the way we have it in the United States. I assured them that we still a long way to go to achieving full participation and citizenship for PWD; however, to keep pressuring government officials to make accessibility a priority for all.

I had the opportunity to visit Bina Nusantara (Bina University) where I was able to present to faculty and staff tasked with providing accessibility services for disabled students. Many disabled students are given scholarships to attend college; therefore the need to increase equal access was heightened. I gave a similar talk to stakeholders at Daya Dimensi Indonesia, one of the top leadership consulting firms in Indonesia, who were looking to connect employers with qualified candidates with disabilities.

My YSEALI PFP Outbound Project also included time to visit some of the beautiful sites inMasjid Istiqlal Jakarta; including President Barack Obama’s childhood school, U.S. Embassy, Indonesia’s independence monument, The Grand Indonesian Mall, and finally Masjid Istiqlal – the national mosque of the Republic of Indonesia. Nicky’s team (including Pratiwi) made me feel welcomed at every stop on our itinerary. Nicky was extremely hospitable; for example, she offered assistance when I needed an interpreter, transportation to cultural sites and food choices while dining at Padang Merdeka. Additionally, the visit to the U.S. Embassy was very enlightening. The new facility highlighted several Indonesia artists, as well as a history lesson of the U.S. Navy liberation of Indonesia from the Japanese during WWII. The people of Indonesia are some of the friendliest and respectful people I’ve come encountered. I hope I was able to provide as much knowledge regarding disability advocacy as I learned from Nicky and her colleagues, “Terima Kasih,  – Thank You.”

I want to thank the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, U.S. Department of State, American Councils for International Education, YSEALI PFP Outbound Project, Thisable Enterprise, Jaimie Holmes and Mauli Whitney from the American Councils for International Education for making this project successful. I also would like to thank, Emily, Renny, Gatut, and Putra from the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section for the tour of the Embassy.

Outbound Project in Singapore: Greg Cooper and Mark Cheng

written by Greg Cooper, Senior Consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP

I spent a once in a lifetime week on the Outbound segment of the Professional Fellows Program in Singapore.  I was hosted by fellow Mark Cheng, who partnered with the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Council, a semi-governmental organization in Singapore that focuses on professional development of Singaporean youth, on the Outbound project.

Mark and I, in coordination with NYAA, designed and implemented 3 days of workshops, the “YSAELI Youth Social Enterprise Conference,” at Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education in March 2019.  Approximately 100 Singaporean students from all areas of Singaporean society attended the workshops.  We designed a structured social enterprise workshop to help aspiring or current young social entrepreneurs improve their professional development skills and create a network for attendees to learn from and support each other.ysaeli_greg-cooper-and-mark-cheng_0281.jpg

The program featured a variety of professionals who shared their stories of how they became successful to inspire the students to work hard to achieve their goals.  Local successful social entrepreneurs shared their expertise and stories on the positive impact of their social enterprises.  The speakers included a member of parliament, established social entrepreneurs, and professionals from Deloitte Consulting USA and Deloitte Consulting Singapore.  The workshops culminated in a competition where all of the attendees presented their ideas for potential funding by NYAA.  I participated as a judge along with other Deloitte USA professionals.

I had the unique opportunity to get to know students from different facets of Singaporean society and learn about their thoughts on Singapore’s educational system and how to address Singapore’s environmental issues.  They shared stories about their background and the ideas they had to improve Singapore.  Common themes were helping students with learning disabilities and providing more educational support to students from all socio-economic backgrounds.  We talked a lot on how they can be proactive about creating their social enterprise organization, including expanding their network, developing their ideas, creating a business plan, and marketing and pitching their ideas to potential investors.  The students pitched their ideas at the end of the workshops, using the information they gained during the workshops. I was impressed with the thought and range of ideas they in the areas of fashion, education, health, and the environment, and was pleased that the students sought my advice on their presentations.  Some of the students requested to be connected on LinkedIn after the workshops ended.  I truly felt like I had made long last connections.


Singapore wasn’t all work.  I also explored the famous hawker centers and tried new food and drinks such as sugar cane, chili crab, chicken rice, sting ray, fried carrot cake, and dim sum. I ate at a 1-star Michelin restaurant after waiting in a long line, and the wait was worth it.  I am a big coffee drinker and happily discovered Singapore’s delicious Kopi coffee culture.  I also visited many of Singapore’s famous sites.  I learned about Singapore’s history at the National Museum of Singapore, visited the luminous steel trees at Gardens by the Bay at night, and explored Little India and Chinatown.

The support given by NYAA and ITE was integral to the success of the workshops.  ITE, where most of the attendees study, provided an inviting conference space.  Through NYAA, I met Singaporean social entrepreneurs and government representatives who gave inspiring speeches to the attendees on how they came from humble backgrounds and through hard work and perseverance were able to make an impact on Singaporean society.  Mark Cheng and NYAA have formed a long-term partnership that will result in additional workshops to continue training and supporting Singapore’s future social entrepreneurs.  I would be honored to participate in future workshops if the opportunity arises.

I would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, American Councils for International Education, Deloitte Consulting USA, Deloitte Singapore, NYAA, the Institute of Technical Education, and Jaimie Holmes and Mauli Whitney from the American Councils for International Education for making this project successful.

YSEALI_Dept of State_Deloitte

Outbound Project Reflection: Rosemary Max and Thi Kim Chi Vu in Hanoi

written by Rosemary Max, Executive Director of Global Engagement, Oakland University 

I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam for two weeks on the Outbound segment of the Professional Fellows Program. I was in Hanoi and hosted by my colleague Kim Chi Vu Thi, a lecturer at Banking Academy. During this time I was able to offer three workshops to students on the US higher education system, on the school to work transition and entrepreneurship, and on professional writing.  I was also able to meet and discuss potential partnerships with faculty from Banking Academy and 6 other universities in Hanoi. The visit culminated in a business case competition in which I participated as a judge.  The visit was an amazing opportunity because it gave me a window into the university system, students and life in Vietnam.  Students in Vietnam, much like students in the US, are focused on and preoccupied by getting a foothold in the working world after graduation. We talked a lot about how to be proactive during one’s university career, ie to develop competencies, networks, and experiences in addition to their coursework.  I am sure that my university will develop partnerships with a few Vietnamese universities because of this opportunity.

VT Rosemary leading workshop

I also took the time to visit cultural sites and to learn more about my host country. I visited several museums, Ho Chi Minh’s tomb and museum, saw a performance of water puppetry, and I took a cooking class. One of my favorite things to do in Hanoi was to find a Cong Café and to sit and have a Coconut coffee drink. Probably the best cold coffee drink I have ever had. It is the perfect mix of sweetened condensed milk, coffee with an icy coconut topping and it manages not to be too sweet. Cong Café has a retro revolutionary feel to it. It is a chain of cafes started by a Vietnamese female entrepreneur. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my money—in support of this successful woman owned business.


Outbound Project Story: Mallory Tuttle and Sitta Marattanachai

written by Mallory Tuttle, Strome Entrepreneurial Center Program Manager at Old Dominion University

Norfolk –> Bangkok –> Chiang Mai –> Bangkok –> Trang –> Bangkok –> Norfolk

The final leg of this amazing experience is almost over and I continue to be amazed by the passion and drive of the people here. Every person I met during my stay here was an entrepreneur – every single person. Thailand truly lives by the motto “entrepreneurship is for everyone”. I came prepared to share everything I knew about entrepreneurship but I gained much more during my two weeks here.

During the final week of the outbound project I was able to go back to my roots and apply my education and experience in eco-tourism and hospitality and tourism management to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Sindy Marattanachai provided introductions to two unique social impact startups. We toured Once Again Hostel and met the team that is empowering locals and improving the community with every stay. We also met up with the CareerVisa Thailand team, discussed career development services innovations and toured their space at dtac Accelerate.

I met an awesome group of leaders from NIA : National Innovation Agency, Thailand and discussed the ODU Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and specifically the student entrepreneurs we work with at the ODU Strome Entrepreneurial Center. I learned more about the programs they offer including Startup Thailand and Founder Apprentice and hope to establish a more formal partnership for collaboration with the organization moving forward.

We hosted our final Young Founder Essentials Workshop in Trang at Suan Dusit University. Students learned about tourism trends and used design thinking to develop solutions to problems facing the tourism industry within their community. The student teams completed their social business model canvases, presented their business pitches and engaged in Q&A with the panel of judges. Their ideas ranged from enhanced tourism itinerary app development to AR/VR tourism experiences.

We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Bohin Farmstay, a local eco-tourism destination that provides authentic tourism experiences for southern Thailand. Due in part to their sea grass replenishment project the conversation status of the Dugong species decreased from endangered to vulnerable.

Thank you again to the U.S. Department of StateAmerican Councils for International EducationOld Dominion University, Sindy Marattanachai, Aom Kwanpirom Suksri, Jaimie At AmericanCouncils, Mauli At AmericanCouncils, and all of the other organizations, faculty/staff and volunteers who made this project possible.

I am looking forward to bringing back new ideas, thoughts and connections to ODU. I’m pretty certain this will go down in the history books as the longest commute I’ll ever have but it was totally worth it!

TH Mallory Tuttle and SittaTH Mallory TuttleTH Young Founders Essentials

Outbound Project in Manila: Ryan Lock and Rhiza Nery

written by Ryan Lock, Natural Hazards Unit Manager and Planning Section Chief, Florida Division of Emergency Management

As a state emergency management professional, I do not often have the chance to discuss disaster-related issues with international counterparts. As such, I was thrilled to be able to participate in the reciprocal component of the Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative Fellowship in the Philippines with the Philippines Disaster Resiliency Foundation. During this program, I was able to engage in the World Food Program’s Field Logistics Emergency Exercise where I was able to work alongside with professionals from the Philippines, Cambodia, the Red Cross, the United Nations, and others. Being able to see these partners in action coordinating an integrated international response was a unique experience. Afterwards, I was able to do site visits have discussions with multiple disaster partners. From these visits, I found that Florida and the Philippines share the same issues when it comes to emergency management. Despite this, we are working to resolve them in different ways, coming up with different solutions, and sometimes making the same mistakes. Opportunities such as this fellowship provide the venue for dialogue and the establishment of lasting sharing that otherwise would not exist. While The Philippines and Florida may never have to coordinate with each other during a disaster, the experiences, best-practices, and efforts of one are useful for the other. I am incredibly thankful for being able to participate in the program, and look forward to the continued sharing of information and ideas.

PH Rhiza and Ryan Lock

Outbound Project Highlight – Meeting the Deputy Minister of Education in Thailand

by Tanes Rianglaem, Fall ’18 YSEALI PFP Fellow from Thailand


General Surachet Chaiwong, Deputy Minister of Education, received a courtesy visit of Mr. Bradley Rickelman, U.S. Department of State exchange participant, endorsed through Professional Fellows Program, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Mr. Rickelman is on a mission to support a series of tailor-made trainings in “Advanced Entrepreneurial Education” for 51 vocational colleges nationwide and “Accelerating Tourism-based Enterprises” for 16 vocational colleges in Surat Thani, Phuket and Phang-nga.  These training are hosted under collaboration between Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) and U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program with primary objectives to strengthen management skills of OVEC incubator administrators and to promote creative networks among these administrators in different regions throughout the country. This reciprocal project is supported through Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), which builds the leadership capabilities of youth in the region and promotes cross-border cooperation to solve regional and global challenges.  Mr. Tanes Rianglaem from Office of the Vocational Education Commission was an active participant of YSEALI Professional Fellows Program in fall 2018.

TH Brad Rickelman meeting Dep. Minsiter of Education