Each year the East-West Center invites rising young leaders from the United States and Asia Pacific to participate in The New Generation Seminar (NGS), a two-week intensive educational, dialogue and study tour travel program. The program is developed around a thematic focus and provides participants with an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of Asia Pacific-U.S. developments and challenges, build a regional network and to become leaders with a more international perspective. The first week of the program is held in Hawaii. In discussions with East-West Center researchers, other experts in the Hawaii community and one another, participants are introduced to key regional policy issues such as international relations, security, economics, population, health and environment. The second week involves field travel to either the United States or Asia Pacific for exploration of the program theme. The program is supported by funding from the Freeman Foundation.
2012 New Generation Seminar
Dates: October 22-November 4, 2012
Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Madison/Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Washington, DC
Theme: “The Making of the Middle Class: Successes of the Past; Challenges for the Future”
The 11 dynamic young leaders in the East-West Center's 2012 New Generation Seminar came together in Honolulu for one week of briefings by EWC research staff on key issues in the Asia Pacific region--demographics, China's sino-capitalism, energy, governance--as well as sessions related to this year's theme of the American middle class, particularly America's innovation and advanced manufacturing strategy. Participants also visited Pacific Command for an overview of regional security issues, and met with Hawaii's Governor, the Honorable Neil Abercrombie, who shared perspectives from his long career in public service. Presentations by each participant provided an enlightening snapshot of the challenges being faced by leaders across the region from Okinawa, Japan to Assam, India.
Participants then traveled to Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin where they gained valuable first-hand insight into the situation of the American middle class. Like many industrial cities with a heavy reliance on manufacturing, Milwaukee has suffered from job cuts and factory closings, with industries moving to the South or overseas. Participants met with city leaders working to revitalize old industrial areas and to lure new businesses; technical college staff who are trying to train and re-train workers, and students who shared their reasons for seeking technical college education; companies like Miller Brewing to hear how factory work has changed and automated and the role of businesses in community sustainability; and unions to hear the perspectives of workers. A visit to a church and a reception with community members engaged in citizen initiatives to improve Milwaukee helped participants to understand the role of civil society and religious institutions in American life. Meetings in Madison focused on state level policy makers and issues, in meetings with the Governor's office, State Senators, analysts, and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
Meetings with leading experts and think tanks, and key government organizations in Washington, DC provided national level perspectives on the challenges of the middle class. The picture was glum. Data from the Pew Research Center's recent report, "The Lost Decade of the Middle Class: Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier," and other analysts showed that the middle class has lost ground and that they feel that their situation is worse. Analysts Jared Bernstein, former policy advisor to Joe Biden; Nicholas Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute; and Adam Hersh from the Center for American Progress shared views on the roots of the problem and possible solutions. A discussion with Republican and Democratic staff from the House Committee on Education and Workforce put the platforms of the two political parties on these issues in high relief, and helped Asia Pacific participants gain a deeper understanding of the US political process. Participants were honored to meet with Jim Leach, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and with Susan Stevenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific at the Department of State. Finally, a meeting with Martin Ravallion, Senior Vice President at the World Bank brought the lens back out to the Asia Pacific region with an enlightening assessment of uneven growth and what can be done to address it.
As always, the participants also learn from their engagement with one another, gaining insight into the perspectives from and challenges in one another's countries, as well as new ideas to apply to their own contexts. For example, young leaders from Myanmar, India and the Philippines learned what was being tried in each country to curb poverty and how they can share information and ideas to benefit their own programs. These policymakers returned to their home countries re-energized to tackle their programs with fresh eyes and new ideas, and empowered by their engagement with the speakers in the program and with one another.
"Whoever I met during the programme was an opportunity for me. As my country is in the transition to the democratic government, I am glad that I could not only learn from others, but I also could share about my country to fellow participants and people I met." Asian participant
"This program enriched my understanding of the economy of the US and the American people's perspective vis-a-vis their society and polity. Since I work very extensively on policy advocacy and governance, this experience has equipped me to work more effectively and systematically to re-apply American models of governance in my own country and make our political system more people friendly and responsive." Asian participant
"I learned so much about the Asian countries represented by the participants. From basic stuff like geography to pressing issues arising from governmental transitions and persistent cultural/governmental problems like corruption and wealth/income inequality." American participant
22nd New Generation Seminar Participants:
- Batzandan Jalbasuren AMBAGAI, Member, the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar
- John Christopher HIPKINS, Member of Parliament for Rimutaka, New Zealand House of Representatives
- LAM, Lap Chi (Eric), Central Standing Committee Member, Democratic Party, and Elected Member, Kwai Tsing District Council, Hong Kong
- Michael LAZO, Division Chief and Presidential Staff Officer VI, Office of the President of the Philippines, Presidential Management Staff, Manila
- Soe Nandar LINN, Research Associate, Myanmar Development Resource Institute, Rangoon, Burma
- Husein Elnino Mohamad MOHI, Member of Parliament (Senator) Representing the Province of Gorontalo, The House of Representatives (Senate) of Indonesia
- Jessica MONROE, Director, State Government Affairs, Johnson & Johnson, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- William QUIRK III, Director of Communications and Education, University Council, American Federation of Teachers, Inglewood, California
- Miguel QUEAH, Founder Chairperson, Universal Team for Social Action and Help, Guwahati, Assam, India
- Kiesha Haughton SMOOTS, Director, Central Region Small Business Development Center, Maryland
- Tadashi UEZATO, Secretary-General, Democratic Party of Japan, Okinawa Chapter, Naha, Okinawa, Japan
For more information on the 2011 New Generation Seminar, please click here.
The first New Generation Seminar was held in 1988, and since then a total of 313 participants from 26 Asia Pacific countries and the United States have participated in 21 seminars. The continuity of the program has been made possible by generous grants from the Freeman Foundation, which has funded the program for the past 16 years.
NGS Program Coordinator
1601 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96848-1601
Phone: (808) 944-7619
Fax: (808) 944-7600