As one of the Australian delegates, Stephanie Hilton joined the 5th ASEAN Foundation Model ASEAN Meeting (AFMAM) 2019 with specific goals: to learn more about how ASEAN youths foresee the future of ASEAN. It was also an opportunity to discover how they would like to contribute to their countries and ASEAN’s future success.
Much to her surprise, she found out that her involvement in AFMAM not only enriched her knowledge of ASEAN and its youth but also provided her a transformative learning experience that sparked her interest in diplomacy and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make friends with amazing young people in ASEAN.
A student at La Trobe University, Australia, Stephanie admitted that she did not know much about ASEAN, let alone about ASEAN-Australia relations, prior to joining the programme. “In the first day of AFMAM, I was surprised to know that Australia is actually the ASEAN’s oldest dialogue partner,” Stephanie said.
Throughout the programme, Stephanie understood that delegates from different countries have their own perspectives and interests, which made it quite challenging to reach consensus.
However, she along with other delegates managed to overcome this and came up with a comprehensive chairman’s statement on diverse topics such as trade, environment, and counter-terrorism. “We managed to overcome our differences by learning other’s perspectives, negotiating openly, and finding common priorities,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie agreed that learning methods applied in AFMAM allowed her to fully immerse herself in the programme. “It is the perfect balance of theoretical and practical learning about ASEAN,” she said.
She also benefited from the public speaking and negotiation practice. One of the highlights was when she heard about the future of the ASEAN-Australia relationship from the Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Ms. Jane Duke herself.
Stephanie has some tips and tricks to share with the future delegates of AFMAM. “It is crucial to listen to your fellow delegates to build better understanding among each other,” she emphasised. “But more importantly, don’t forget to have fun sharing and learning about different cultures!”