The 39th SSEAYP: Once in a lifetime

Web.HCYU. 17.01.2013. As one of the SSEAYP participants, Truong Van Loc shares his thought of the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program, which started in 1974 aiming at fostering friendship and cultural understanding among Youths from Japan and ASEAN countries.

As a Vietnam Participating Youth (VPY) in the 39th SSEAYP, I will always keep this spirit in my mind. The SSEAYP stands for the “Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program”. Started in 1974, SSEAYP has made a great contribution to foster friendship and cultural understanding among Youths from Japan and ASEAN countries. What I could share to you about SSEAYP is just four words: THINK, LEARN, LIVE and LOVE.

TO THINK. A life, on a ship, with more than 300 different people from 11 different countries is quite like a small world. And because it’s small then what you say, do or behave could be a witness for other “nations’ citizens” to easily yet imprecisely assess your motherland. All the VPYs, including me, before departure to Japan to start the journey, under the instruction of Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the Communist Party’s guiding star, had defined the same goals to enthusiastically dedicate our knowledge, youth energy, passion and patriotism to introduce to international friends a new and truly Vietnam image, a friendly and dynamic country. Before, during and after the journey, what we really think has not been ourselves, first and foremost, it must be our mother Vietnam.

VPYs took photo with Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan – HE. Mr.Doan Xuan Hung in the Cultural Exhibition in Japan
VPYs took photo with Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan – HE. Mr.Doan Xuan Hung in the Cultural Exhibition in Japan

TO LEARN. It’s not enough without mentioning my valuable learning from SSEAYP. I always feel eager to find the ultimate, to dream beyond what is possible, to learn the new and strange things. With a series of useful activities on the ship, namely, group discussions, solidarity groups, cultural exchange, club activities, or homestay program at the port-of-call nations, SSEAYP is a dynamic environment in which I learn to trust and respect different language or skin-color people, to appreciate and understand the true meaning of Connecting. I, subjectively, do not hesitate to verify that SSEAYP more or less brings out the best of my own abilities, unlocks my potential, resulting in adding more precious values to my life.

VPYs in ASEAN and Japan’s traditional costumes on board the ship MS. FUJI MARU
VPYs in ASEAN and Japan’s traditional costumes on board the ship MS. FUJI MARU

TO LIVE. I had lived a real life in SSEAYP. Have you ever lived a life without worries, wonders or competition? No level, no discrimination, no winner or loser… During two months sailing the ocean, it seemed that my all my troubles were left behind or even thrown away. I tried to make acquaintance with as many friends as possible, smile to the max, understand to the hilt and love to the fullest. Such an amazing life enabled me to discover and rediscover myself, understand myself better in order to understand others, finally result in enabling the meeting and sharing with the people who I am really looking for.

TO LOVE. SSEAYP is about LOVE. Taking homestay program, one of the best selling point of SSEAYP as an example. In the future, I may earn a lot of money and travel to any of the ASEAN countries easily, but the opportunity to stay with a local family, interact with them and call them mom or dad is really rare. Although it seems to be temporary, I can obviously feel how deep my love for my foster families is! Related to homestay program, the ribbons throwing ceremony at each port of call always pick up the burning torch of love in me intensely. Never can I forget the unexplainable feeling when finding my host family who would be standing at the port, waving, crying… That is the last time I can tell my family how much I love them by shouting as loud as possible from the ship or writing a heartfelt message on the ribbon.

After all, SSEAYP is not a teacher, it is a common school where ASEAN and Japanese Youth not only gain knowledge about substantial issues such as environment, education, cultural understanding, international relations. But also comprehensively  understand the true meaning of “Trust, Happiness, Sharing and Solidarity”.

That’s why we said: IN SSEAYP WE TRUST.


HCYU/Truong Van Loc

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