3 Months Home: An Interview with IVLP Alumna Khairunnisa Ash’ari from Brunei

Khairunnisa and the group visited America's Promise Alliance in Washington, DC.


This is the first post of a new initiative where we will feature a U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus who, three months out from their IVLP experience, is putting into practice ideas and concepts gleaned during the IVLP study tour. Here we feature Ms. Khairunnisa Ash’ari, Director of Community Engagement for Green Brunei and a Committee Member of the Brunei Youth Council. She participated in a group project on Volunteerism and Youth. We followed up with Ms. Ash’ari to learn about her experience since IVLP and lessons learned.

What have you been up to since your IVLP experience?

The IVLP has given me the opportunity to reflect back on the programs that I do under my two organizations, Green Brunei and the Brunei Youth Council. Since our IVLP program in February, my organizations have been busy running several projects tackling climate change issues and youth development. In particular, we have been focusing on empowering young leaders and guiding them to taking action – which is something that I saw a lot of while I was in the States. I also had the chance to conduct a sharing session on my IVLP experience with representatives of various NGOs in Brunei where I highlighted in particular the “Service-Learning” culture.

While in Seattle, the group served lunch at Youthcare.
While in Seattle, the group served lunch at Youthcare.

What one lesson that you learned or idea that you gained on your IVLP experience have you started to apply in your organization?

I was interested in the mentorship or “big brother”/”big sister” concept. Most of my program activities tend to be one-off or conducted over a period of time, but never on a regular or weekly basis. I’ve adapted it by introducing the Green Ambassadors Program where youth volunteers, or Green Ambassadors, are assigned one or two schools depending on their availability, and they will go in groups to work with that school weekly to promote environmental awareness through talks or running activities in the school. So far we only have 19 ambassadors to work with three schools, but the response has been very positive.

What message would you like to share with the people who hosted and met with you in the US?

I’d just like to express my appreciation to all the organizations who have spent their precious time sharing with us their programs and activities and have given us a lot of tips. I was truly inspired by many of the things shared with us and impressed by the level of commitment and passion displayed by these amazing individuals. They’ve given me a lot to think about and I hope to continuously improve what we do by learning from their success.