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President Obama's Visit to Singapore

President Obama greets Ganesh Muren at the roundtable conversation in Singapore on March 19, 2018.

On Monday, March 19, President Obama met with a small group of emerging leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries* to hear about the work they are doing in their communities, and to discuss how the Obama Foundation can support them to take their work to the next level.

President Obama Meets Emerging Leaders in Singapore

You can learn more about the roundtable participants below or by clicking the markers on the map.

A man with a medium skin tone has a short haircut, glasses, and is wearing a red and gray plaid shirt. He smiles as he stands in front of a whiteboard with various abstract designs in black, blue, and orange colors.

Angga D. Martha, Indonesia

"I am currently working to meaningfully engage young people who will shape the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) in Indonesia. In most cases, many young people have never been involved in policy discussion before, and some of them do not know that their voices matter. My work tries to give voice to the voiceless, offer a space for discussion, and provide an opportunity for my peers to advocate for the future they want."

"Young people need to know that they have the right to participate and to help shape the future. They need to know that their voice matters, and that they have full authority to shape their future no matter their background."

A woman  with a light medium skin tone smiles. She has long straight hair in a ponytail, gold earrings, and is wearing a white coat.

Clarissa Isabelle Delgado, Philippines

"As both a project leader and a team player, I have continued to hold positions of increasing responsibility within the development sector. In 2012, I co-founded Teach for the Philippines and most recently hold the title of CEO."

"Young people need to know that creating change is not just about us, and it is not just for us. I would recommend reading Paulo Freire's book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It is an education in the importance of context, engagement, collaboration, and ownership of change. Sometimes we get so inspired to act, we forget to sit in the patient never-ending disorder of dialogue, research, and history."

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Ganesh Murrurti, Malaysia

"I am passionate about providing access to clean potable water to reduce water-borne diseases and child mortality, creating solar power to power rural villages, providing income sources to break the poverty cycle for single mothers via micro-financing, and youth training to reduce delinquency and substance abuse."

"Young people should imagine those they love stranded on a remote island with no access to basic needs. Multiply this many, many times and think of how you can address the darkest and most forgotten parts of society and give the people respect, hope and a new life. Be bold. Be audacious in your goals. Be a real life super hero to the forgotten."

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Kimsru Duth, Cambodia

"I have been working with young rural Cambodian since 2013. Our target area is in Kralanh and Srei Snam, areas where young people tend to drop out of school and migrate to Thailand. In 2012, roughly 30% of high school graduates were able to pursue higher education. Currently, more than 70% of students continue higher education either through scholarships or family support. Many of them have graduated and become very good role models for young people."

"Young people should volunteer or come up with ideas to make their community a better place. They should test their ideas and get more people involved. And do it all with with love, care and kindness."

A man with a neutral tone wearing a blue shirt sleeve button up hold a colorful "think feel, and #beasean" sign holding one arm out

Phan Van Quyen, Vietnam

"I work at JOS Creative, a start-up for start-ups. This start-up helps dozens of young entrepreneurs build, design, position, promote and develop their brand as well as their product-designs before launching. We also have talks and training so that this area is no longer an unknown territory to young entrepreneurs."

"Young people who want to create change should step out of their safe zone, be confident, and dare to face difficulties and challenges when participating in community building. Caring and loving others is always the key to successful community work."

A woman with a medium deep skin tone smiles as she stands outside under a mint green structure. She has neck length black hair and is wearing a mint shirt that reads, "Freedom Cups."

Vanessa Paranjothy, Singapore

"I started an organization called Freedom Cups to get reusable menstrual products to women. To date, 16 projects have been conducted in 7 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Philippines, India, Nepal, and Nigeria. So far, we have reached out to over 3,000 underprivileged women."

"Young people should just do it. Start small, and aim to leave their little corner of the world in a better state than when they entered it."

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Zin Mar Aung, Myanmar

"I was involved in a democratic movement under a military regime and was imprisoned for 11 years because of my activism. Now, I am a Member of Parliament in one of the most diverse countries in the world, and I continue my work as a civil society activist. I represent the voice of my constituents and many young people are inspired by and interested in my work."

"Young people need to know themselves and be honest with themselves. Above all, they must be committed to creating change through community work."

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Viria Vichit-Vadakan, Thailand

"At Learn Corporation, I helped launch an online-based English language learning platform called LEARNx, which connects professionals to language coaches globally. LEARNx also works with Learn Education — a leading education technology social enterprise in Asia. Learn Education currently partners with 155 underserved schools (90% out of Bangkok) serving 35,000 students and over 1,000 teachers."

"When getting involved in their communities, young people should understand the current needs of their community, identify their role, skills, and how they can best contribute to the challenges sustainably. Learn from others who are currently working on the issue to better learn what's being done, and how to improve current solutions. Be strategic. Think long term impact."

Pg Salimatul Sa’ada Pg Mohd Saleh, Brunei

"I am a Primary school teacher aspiring to cultivate children and youth to become role models and leaders for the future generation. I am also the President of SCOT, whose projects revolve around engaging underprivileged youth and coming up with sustainable ways to help them get out of the poverty cycle."

"Young people shouldn't be afraid of getting out of their comfort zone, but rather embrace that fear and rise to the challenge. Young people should also be curious and eager to ask questions. Ultimately, they have to find their purpose and be willing to work with people who hold different perspectives and are from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions."

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Timothy Low, Singapore

"I am the Chief Operating Officer at Halogen Foundation. Halogen Foundation aims to inspire and influence a generation of young people to lead themselves well. We do this by making quality leadership and entrepreneurship education accessible to all youth - regardless of their background or ethnicity - particularly uplifting youths from challenging, disadvantaged, or marginalised backgrounds to give them a better headstart at life and career."

"'If not you, then who? If not now, then when?' I love this quote because it really sums up what I think young people should embody. Start thinking of the change you want to make and the people you want to help, then dive in headfirst. There is no better way to move than forward, quick and dirty, learning from your sprints and your falls."


Three fantastic emerging leaders from Laos were invited to participate in this event, but unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts and logistical constraints they were not able to travel to Singapore.  We look forward to continuing the conversation with these Laotian leaders about the important work they are doing in their communities.