Muhammad Arsalan, known as Alan, is originally from the historical city of Pekalongan, Central Java. Otherwise known as Batik City—batik referring to the intricate art of decorating cloth using hot wax and dye—the city is also a member of UNESCO’s World’s Creative Cities Network. As an engaged, recent graduate in international relations, Alan is no stranger to regional youth leadership activities, however he had yet to find an opportunity that presented him with a hands-on experience to make an impact at the local level and learn how specific activities can impact local communities.
Alan trusts in the tourism potential of Indonesia, from vibrant indigenous cultures to majestic nature. “I believe that tourism is the best platform to contribute to Indonesia’s economic growth, from natural resources to rich cultures, and the industry has more potential to grow.” He longed to explore this potential and to work alongside future ASEAN leaders, to collaborate, cooperate and ultimately learn how to advance the region’s potential to create success stories.
He understood that he needed to go beyond academic theory and put into practice what he had learned at university. This was the motivating factor to apply for the YSEALI Workshop on Economic Engagement in ASEAN (YSEALI Generation: ECommunity!) organized by Kenan Foundation Asia and the Center for Sustainable Development Studies. Kenan Foundation Asia has developed a unique approach to community development that works by empowering individual community members to take charge of their community’s development by identifying, prioritizing and addressing local challenges through community action. This type of bottom up approach was a natural fit for Alan’s goals. Selected as one of only 80 participants, out of over 2,300 applicants, to join the workshop, Alan enthusiastically joined the workshop.
Though challenging, particularly because Alan was the youngest of the participants, he had the opportunity to work alongside other youth leaders from all 10 ASEAN countries. His team developed a project that has already impacted their chosen local community; creating a sustainable tourism package and improving online marketing for the community of Detusoko, a misty, cool hill town located above an emerald valley blanketed with abundant rice fields. Thanks to their efforts, the community now has an online platform to more easily welcome travelers to the district. By the end of the program, Alan reflected that he felt “inspired” by the program environment and what had been achieved.
According to the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025, “Developing quality tourism destinations and products remains a major challenge for ASEAN.” Through their project creation, Alan and his team took one step towards addressing this regional challenge.
We asked Alan to share 10 tips for aspiring youth leaders, this is what he said:
1. Listen, listen, and listen.
2. Dare to be different.
3. Healthy competition is good for your soul.
4. Find benchmarks.
5. Make friends with people from different backgrounds.
6. Know who you are (your potential, your weaknesses, your strengths).
7. Collaborate, together we are stronger.
8. Experience is the best teacher.
9. Believe in yourself. If you do not, how will others.
10. Finally, do not skip sports and stay healthy, you cannot be a leader if you are sick.
Building on his first taste of hands-on experience, Alan would like to contribute to the economic and political development of Indonesia, empowered by his newly developed knowledge and skills. Please share Alan’s story to inspire other passionate youth leaders.