Driven by self-challenge and motivation to make positive impacts to the communities, Agung Dermawan applied for the 5th ASEAN Foundation Model ASEAN Meeting (AFMAM) 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Initially, he hesitated to take part. As a civil engineering student at Tadulako University in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, ASEAN diplomacy is not something that he is familiar with. “I was full of doubts about my participation,” Agung confessed. “Thanks to my teammates’ encouragement, I mustered up courage to submit my application and the rest is history.”
For the simulation session, to Agung’s surprise, he was assigned to the roles of Prime Minister of ASEAN Economic Community and the Head of Government of Brunei Darussalam. These roles required him to mingle and negotiate with other delegates, and for Agung, this turned out to be quite the challenge.
“It wasn’t easy as I always consider myself an introvert,” he confessed. “But then I thought that if I want to become the next leader in the future, I have to challenge myself and adapt quickly with the environment and circumstances.”
Agung mentioned that he learned a lot from his team members who have better exposure to diplomacy and insights from delegates from other countries, particularly from the country he represented, which is Brunei Darussalam.
Reflecting on the whole experience, he thoroughly enjoyed the journey AFMAM and his transformation from not knowing about ASEAN to loving it. He credited all these to the immersive learning methods of AFMAM.
“The meeting simulation and role-playing were very engaging,” Agung said. “I particularly enjoyed the part where we discussed about the goals of ASEAN Community and exchanged views on how to achieve those goals with the support of Australia, ASEAN’s longest dialogue partner.”
AFMAM experiences also helped Agung build better understand about ASEAN-Australia relations and, more importantly, motivated him to contribute more to communities in ASEAN. “Through AFMAM I not only learned a lot about ASEAN-Australia diplomacy affairs,” he said. “My conviction that as the future leader we have to take an active role to contribute to this region was also boosted!”
Agung is more than happy to share some tips with the future delegates of AFMAM, so that they can thrive in the programme. “Build good understanding of the programme from the get-go,” he advised. “This way you will be able to develop a compelling essay for your application.”
“Don’t hesitate to consult with people who are more knowledgeable than you, like your team advisor, alumnae and, especially your fellow delegates,” Agung urged. “You will learn a lot from them.”
Finally, he suggested that future delegates should consider to form a team with various education backgrounds. “It will give you an edge as you have a group of friends who could offer different takes on things and wealth of solutions.”