Learnings from ASEAN Power Shift – Merryn Choong

By Merryn (MYD15)

Being in the policy track removed layers and layers of presumptions that I had.  I see, feel, and understand better the importance of youth coming together in creating action, because the existence of this group in bridging the gap of those suffering and those who are fighting for a stand.

Merryn Chong in action

Merryn Chong in action

While delegates were busy fighting to make a stand for respective countries, some were unable to make their voices heard which are often those who are most affected by climate change. In fact, there are also those in the room who could not voice out their opinion because of a lower proficiency in English. It suddenly came to me that aside from differences in nationality, there are so many other social problems and political issues inter-connected in this bigger picture that makes finding a solution for climate change even harder and complex.

I particularly like the metaphor “culture as an onion.” Onions, like cultures, come in different shapes and varieties; the color of the core permeates each layer. If one is not skilled at slicing and peeling an onion, it can cause eye irritation and bring tears to the eye. Similarly, when crossing borders and cultures, we must learn the skills of bridging culture and become culturally sensitive in order to better facilitate negotiation. I must admit that this “eye irritation” did happen during our discussion and meetings. The entire policy track negotiation was not an easy process, even when we acknowledge the different parties’ interests and concerns.

During the short duration of this conference, it has opened up my eyes to more climate change issues and solutions going on in ASEAN region. There is definitely still a lot more for me to learn and improve in this aspect. I often feel handicapped in formulating a statement because there are so many aspects that inter-links with the topic discussed, which I still lack sufficient understanding.

We learned to listen and see things from a different set of eyes - Merryn

We learned to listen and see things from a different set of eyes – Merryn

When I look back, one heart warming thing is is, I think I have found a new family, a family who consist of brothers and sisters from different parts of Malaysia that shares the same passion and vision. They have given me constructive criticism, support and advice before and throughout the entire ASEAN Power Shift in Singapore. I am grateful for the people I met, the knowledge gained in knowledge track, the invaluable experience in policy negotiation, the homework assigned that pushed me in getting interviews done, and the late night meetings that bond us closer together. These three days has definitely opened my eyes to greater possibilities in the future.

#MYD15 – Malaysian Youth Delegation – Malaysian youth climate movement at international United Nations climate conferences, UNFCCC, participants will be mentored and hold engagements with various climate expert bodies and dialogue with Malaysian policy makers and negotiators.

#ASEANPOWERSHIFT – A conference gathering youths from 10 ASEAN countries with the focus on finding pragmatic and possible solutions to tackle climate change and empower youths with creative skills and knowledge to initiate their own actions.

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