The YES Alumni Malaysia Committee recently held the annual YES Think Tank workshop to provide alumni skills in design thinking, project proposal writing, and budgeting. Over two workshop days, three alumni teams, each assisted by an alumni mentor, developed a project proposal and budget. On the third day, the teams presented their projects to a panel, including U.S. Embassy Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer Akash Suri, AFS YES staff, and three senior alumni. Equipped with the knowledge that they learned and guided by fellow mentors, the alumni brainstormed and discussed over 3 different projects focusing on cultural awareness, 21st-century skills and mold cleaning! Each project team has now started working towards executing the project with support from the YES Alumni Malaysia Committee.
YES alumnus Jun Hao Lai (YES 2016-2017, Malaysia, placed by AFS-USA in Lakewood, WA) reflects on his Think Tank experience:
"My Think Tank 2021 experience was quite insightful. I had heard of it before and was very curious about this workshop. Although I was unable to join due to distance and studies back then, I was very excited to know that YES Think Tank was online this year.
There were two parts for the YES Think Tank 2021. The first two days were all about project development and management. Several tools were introduced, from generating project ideas to executing the project itself. After the two days, all participants split into three assigned groups to brainstorm an idea and propose our group project.
On the third day of Think Tank 2021, we presented our project idea to several guests, including representatives from the U.S. Embassy, AFS Malaysia board of directors and staffs, and the YES alumni Malaysia. At the end of the workshop, my group came up with two brilliant ideas that we would work on and carry out soon."
"I have learnt a lot from the workshop, especially in idea generating and structuring the idea into an organized and executable plan. Before the workshop, I always found it hard to generate project ideas. It has caused a lot of anxiety as I held the responsibility to conduct a project. However, after being introduced to the Innovator’s Compass and following the framework, I successfully generated and formulated a project proposal.
I was surprised by the model for its systematic framework, where it assisted me in categorizing all ideas that popped up while brainstorming. In the end, my group decided to carry out my project idea. Not only that, it was supported by many during the presentation. It is always good to know your idea isn’t bad!
I am glad that I had this opportunity to join YES Think Tank 2021 and carry out projects on behalf of the YES Alumni Malaysia. I have missed several opportunities to join YES projects and struggled to connect with other YES alumni in the past. But thanks to the new normal and a virtual YES Think Tank 2021, I finally got the chance to get to know several YES juniors and seniors.
Shoutout to my group mates, alumni Jon Wan, Malini and Lynn Jia, and our group’s mentor, Jon Lee. I can’t wait to collaborate on our project! Hopefully, we enjoy the process and make our project a great one!"