Over thirty international youth delegates were invited to a cultural exchange and reception at the Philippines Embassy in Washington D.C. during the 2017 International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA). The gathering held on August 9 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a coalition of ten member states dedicated to the economic, social, cultural, technical, educational and other fields of development in the region.
US-Philippines Society President Ambassador John Maisto welcomed the IYLA delegates and explained the significance of the Philippines' role in 2017 as the sitting chair of ASEAN saying, “Filipino leaders played an instrumental founding role, and the country is both a natural leader within the bloc and a proven link internationally. For the United States, there is no question the Philippines can and should be a logical platform of Americans to do business in ASEAN, and for the U.S. to project a stabilizing and welcome strategic presence in that part of the Asia-Pacific region."
Youth have an essential role in the security of peaceful societies. Driven by idealism, energy and passion, young leaders have the capacity to determine the ongoing culture that identifies their generation. By bringing together youth from a vast array of cultural, ethnic and national backgrounds, the IYLA provides an opportunity for these leaders to engage in dialogue and activities with people who may have different traditions, religious beliefs, and cultural outlooks. However, with dialogue comes understanding and with understanding comes the opportunity for peaceful cooperation.