Claire Pasion and Jon Leo Licayan represent Region 12 to the 44th SSEAYP

   Claire Pasion and Jon Leo Licayan are the representatives of Region 12 to the 44th Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP). 

   "I sacrifice (almost) everything just for SSEAYP," said Jon. "SSEAYP is a great opportunity for me to grow as an individual."

   "There are people who help me because I made it to this year's SSEAYP," said Claire. "They are proud of me and I am overwhelmed by it."

   The Japanese Government has been sponsoring this program for 44 years. It is an annual diplomatic and cultural exchange program whose "goal is to promote friendship and mutual understanding among emerging youth leaders from 10 participating Southeast Asian countries and Japan. They conduct activities such as institutional visits and home stays in participating countries, courtesy call on foreign dignitaries, discussion groups, cultural presentations, and other goodwill exchanges which geared towards broadening international perspective. 

   Before their voyage in the Nippon Maru Ship for over 50 days, Batch Bulawan must undergo pre-departure trainings and activities. 

   "We are preparing financially, emotionally and physically," said Claire. "We will be trained as ambassadors so we should act like one."

   "There will be a lot of stressors because of the many activities and hectic schedule," said Jon. "That is why my only prayer is that the Lord will give me the strength to overcome it."

   After the program, Claire will focus on cultural education as her primary advocacy while Jon will put his focus on youth governance such as policy making since he is a Barangay Kagawad in Poblacion, Polomolok. 

   "We always encourage our fellow youth to think outside of the box," said Claire. "They should not limit themselves and try to reach their full potential."

   "Be involved now," Jon added. "If they want to join SSEAYP, they should start involving themselves in their own communities."

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