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June 18, 2009: U.S. Institute on the Environment

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Emerging Environmental Leaders from the Asia Pacific Region Visit the East-West Center in Washington to Study the U.S. Environmental Movement 

(Washington D.C.) June 18– A group of twenty young scholars from Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea met with Satu Limaye of the East-West Center in Washington as part of a six week environmental leadership program designed to empower emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills, and relationships to successfully develop solutions to global environmental issues. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

From June 15-21, the participants of the United States Institute on the Environment (USIE) visited Washington DC to meet with an array of environmentally minded organizations. The USIE provides advanced undergraduate and graduate environmental science students from the Asia Pacific region exposure to the U.S. environmental movement and aids in the development of interdisciplinary pathways to environmental stewardship. 

Goals of the program include:

• Transformative learning experience through introductions to the broad spectrum of approaches to the U.S. environmental movement. 
• Opportunities for practitioners to learn about environmental challenges in the Asia Pacific region. 
• Building networks and collaborative projects that link participants with U.S. environmental professionals to develop practical solutions to shared challenges.

In order to develop leadership abilities and understand social dimensions of environmental issues, the first four weeks of the institute were spent in Hawai`i at the East-West Center’s campus in Honolulu. While there, participants attended workshops, field studies, and shared approaches to common challenges with environmental experts, scholars, and organizations.

About the participants :

Diversity is a key strength of the program. The participants bring a broad range of backgrounds, including Aerospace Engineering, Green Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Urban Development, Tourism, and Public Health. Some participants include:

• Sophiah Jamil (Singapore), who is studying the security implications of climate change and has published research on the environmental movement among Muslim youth;
• Masikerei Vunicagi (Fiji), who works as a field trainer educating rural communities on environmentally sustainable living practices;
• Chow Geh Tsung (Malaysia), who studies water quality and fresh water resources, and has worked in Malaysia’s heavy industry sector;
• Lee Yee Hui Jonathan (Singapore), who is studying the effects of the aviation industry on climate change, and has been part of General Electric Aviation’s “Eco-imagination” team;
• Subhashni Raj (Fiji), who is studying coral reef biodiversity and conservation, previously on a scholarship to Bangalore University;
• Wong Shu Kuan (Malaysia), a marine biology student focusing on conservational genetics.  

Study of the U.S. Institutes are designed by the Study of the U.S. Branch in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to promote a better understanding of the U.S. abroad and to help develop future world leaders.  Institute participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants overseen annually by ECA. Other ECA programs include the Fulbright Program and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.  For more information about ECA programs, visit http://exchanges.state.gov/

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