YSEALI, a two-way U.S. Department of State exchange program, is designed to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

“The program works to increase relations with Southeast Asia by inviting their young professionals to work with young professionals here in the United States,” Jarchow said. “It helps them learn more about the United States’ perspective.”

Jarchow hosted a YSEALI fellow, Fhiliya Himasari, last summer – the first half of the two-way exchange. While in South Dakota, Himasari met with a range of environmental organizations, such as the Spirit Mound Trust, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, Greening Vermillion and the Missouri River Institute.

“Fhiliya is the type of person who is always open to new experiences, is willing to take initiative and is very interested in getting international experience,” Jarchow said.

For her half of the exchange program, Jarchow was encouraged to conduct a project in Himasari's home country. Jarchow petitioned for a project related to the conservation of Mangrove -- one of Indonesia's native ecosystems.

"Indonesia has tremendous biodiversity," Jarchow said. "They still have the opportunity to save a lot of that biodiversity."

During her time in Indonesia, Jarchow met with representatives from environmental advocacy programs and conservation organizations, such as WALHI, Green Justice Indonesia, the North Sumatran Ministry of Forestry and community members from, Langkat, a nearby town.

Through a variety of programs and engagements, including U.S. educational and cultural exchanges, regional exchanges, and seed funding, YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capacities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia and nurture the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community.

“The U.S. Department of State sees it as a relationship building program,” Jarchow said. “They identify people who might be future leaders in these countries and bring them to the U.S. to hopefully increase their network.”

Since 2013, YSEALI has focused on critical topics identified by youth in the region – civic engagement, economic empowerment, social entrepreneurship, education and environmental issues. The program is an established effort designed to strengthen partnerships, address critical challenges and expand opportunities for the next generation of young leaders.

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