Thinesh Selvarajoo, a final-year undergraduate student at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) met Barrack Obama, the President of the United States of America in the White House during the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). One of the President’s signature programmes which aims to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia, YSEALI also aims to address global issues through the involvement of youth leaders.
“For me, this was a huge achievement and definitely one of the proudest moments in my life. I was humbled to see how a seemingly ordinary man with a pleasant disposition and a great sense of humour can also be a respected leader of an esteemed country. It especially serves as a motivation for me to continue to follow my dreams and aspire to be a good leader and a better person,” said Thinesh, who is studying chemical and environmental engineering at UNMC.
“We are very proud of Thinesh; being selected for the YSEALI programme is a tremendous achievement and has given him the opportunity to interact with the President of the United States. This is truly a milestone in his life and reflects the talent that he has shown throughout his University career” said Professor Christine Ennew, CEO and Provost of The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.
The YSEALI Institute on Environmental Issues is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is part of the Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI). The programme seeks to develop a vibrant network of young leaders to create innovative and positive solutions for 21st Century environmental challenges.
The participants travelled to Colorado and Washington D.C to study about global environmental issues through problem-based learning workshops and site visits.
The participants also had the opportunity to explore ways to address environmental challenges through environmental movements and policies affected by the American society. The contents of the programme include climate change, natural resources management, sustainable development, sustainable agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism, and energy generation, through a series workshops with partner organisations such Pearl Harbour Institute and Eco-Cycle a not for profit recycler in the US.
Participation in YSEALI Academic Fellows Program 2015
Thinesh was among 5 Malaysians, out of 19 participants who were selected from more than 1,000 applicants in the Southeast Asia region. The selection process involves participants being recommended by a credible community engagement organisation, before undergoing an official interview at the U.S Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Other requirements include community involvement, and proof of leadership in the relevant areas.
The participants also worked with Boulder Food Rescue, a non-profit organisation based in Boulder, Colorado, whose goal is to create a more just and less wasteful food system. The experience motivated Thinesh and his team members to come up with “Food Rescue ASEAN’, a social initiative to tackle the issue of food waste in Malaysia and the Philippines.
The team’s proposal intends to reduce food wastage through a channel to distribute food to charitable homes and soup kitchens. The team was among 18 global recipients of the granted USD20,000 (RM 84,835.79) from Seeds for the Future Grant Competition by the U.S. Department of State.
“Just between the two countries, Malaysians waste up to 8,000 tonnes of food per day while Filipinos waste 296,869 metric tonnes of rice per year. Imagine how many lives can be saved if these resources which many consider to be a waste is channelled to charities serving the homeless and low-income individuals,” Thinesh said.
Thinesh’s Community Engagements
Thinesh is a recipient of the prestigious Vice Chancellor’s Achievement Award, presented by The University of Nottingham for his substantial contribution to the university and community.
Thinesh has held numerous key roles at UNMC. He was President of Rotaract Club for the UNMC Chapter (2013/2014), Vice President of Enactus UNMC (2013/14), and one of the founding members and photographers for Ignite, UNMC’s student media which was first established during the (2012/2013) academic year. On top of his involvement in the university, Thinesh is also a Kuala Lumpur Tourism Ambassador and is actively involved in Teach for Malaysia (TFM) and Successor Generation Network, Malaysia (SGI).
“Our students receive a well-rounded exposure as part of their education at the University of Nottingham which not only equips them for their working life but mould them into confident and capable individuals.
Student involvement in community engagements, international competitions and conferences sets them apart from their peers in the working environment. Many of our students are high achievers in their academic and research field while being actively involved in addressing the global and local challenges that affect us all,” said Professor Ennew.
UNMC’s 15th Anniversary
One of the world’s truly global universities, with campuses in Malaysia, the UK and China, 2015 marks the 15th year since setting up as UK’s first full-fledged international campus in Malaysia and all three campuses continue to enrich the lives of students across the world through global education, ground-breaking research and community engagement.
诺丁汉大学（英国大学马来西亚分校）The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus