Cruise for a Cause: What is SSEAYP and Why I’m Excited for It

Cruise for a Cause: What is SSEAYP and Why I’m Excited for It

Travel to about six countries incurring minimum cost, gaining new friends, and learning many new things? It's possible with SSEAYP!

It is every traveller’s dream to go to many countries and not have to spend a single buck. And it is every youth leader’s dream both to travel and to serve the country. A few months ago, I had no idea that my world would turn upside down. It still hasn’t completely sunk in because it hasn’t exactly happened yet.

I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth I am talking about. I’m referring to the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP), an annual program that lets selected youth leaders experience a once-in-a-lifetime and life-changing expedition. I’m surprised that not many people know about this program, and I feel that it is my duty to share it.

Also read: Travel to Help the World: Voluntour in Southeast Asia

sseayp cruiseImage credit: Saligan

SSEAYP gathers more than 300 youth leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries and Japan. Participants will sail on-board MS Nippon Maru, a cruise ship, and will have ports of call in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The program will run from October 25 to December 15, 2016. In the Philippines, the Office of the President, through the National Youth Commission, heads the implementation of the program.

Image credit: Philippine National Youth Commission

I was blessed enough to have been chosen to represent my country as an Ambassador of Goodwill together with youth leaders from other parts of the Philippines. We call our batch Dilaab, and already, we’re falling in love with the Philippines more and more everyday as we learn new things about our country.

So what exactly awaits us during the program?

Discuss social issues

Image credit: Saligan

In previous years, SSEAYP was seen only as a cultural exchange program where youth delegates get to mingle with other participants from different countries. However, in the more recent years, SSEAYP has been transformed into a more impactful program where delegates are expected to contribute more to the community. This goal is being achieved through discussion groups where participants learn more about issues on environment and disaster, information and media, health, education, and so much more.

Also read: Volunteer in the Philippines: 10 Reasons to Join Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge

Exchange cultures

Image credit: Saligan

As mentioned, SSEAYP began more as a cultural exchange program and it still is up to this day. Despite of ASEAN being a closely-knit region, each country has its own individuality and uniqueness. These differences and similarities are worth sharing and discussing among the youth. I am falling more in love with my country, and I hope to appreciate other country’s cultures the way that I do with mine.

Gain new friends

Image credit: Saligan

Is it possible to meet all 300 participants of the program? Maybe but not necessarily. Delegates will be grouped into smaller clusters for discussions and other activities and mind you, participants from the same country will not always be together. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends from other nations. Aside from co-participants, we’ll also get to interact with locals through our host families. We’ll experience living with them for at most two days per country. I remember hearing stories from our alumni that until today, they are still very close to their foster families even after the program.

Also read: Why Volunteer Abroad?

Expanded network

All the alumni I’ve had the opportunity to speak to told me that no matter the difficulties in preparing for the program and being in the actual program itself, everything was worth it. They’ve told me nothing but success stories emphasising on how SSEAYP truly changed their lives and their size (inside joke). They gained enough experiences and opportunities to springboard their careers after the program.

Travel for less

Image credit: Saligan

I wouldn’t be writing about the program here if it was in no way related to travelling. While the thought of going around six different countries for a minimum cost excites me, it is nothing but a huge plus on top of everything else; an icing on my cake. I cannot wait to taste local Thai food that everybody’s been talking about; I feel giddy just thinking about stepping into Japanese soil, seeing Singapore again after more than a year, meeting Vietnamese locals for the first time, tasting the famous Indonesian coffee, and hopefully laying eyes on Cambodia’s beautiful temples.

Also read: Volunteering in the Philippines: 5 Nonprofit Organizations to Get Involved In

Best of all, I cannot wait to share what my country has to offer. I cannot wait to experience all these with my batchmates, people whom I’ve learned and am still learning to love. I cannot wait to echo my stories of adventure to other youth leaders back home and all throughout the world, and hopefully inspire them to be a part of this amazing community.

About Author

Johanna Ella May Erroba
Johanna Ella May Erroba

Johanna is a free spirit. She channels her energy through music, writing, surfing, and travelling. She expresses all of her musings on Camera and Cheese.


Related Posts