Home > Alumni > Messages from Alumni Presidents

Messages from Alumni Presidents

President of the IATSS Forum Alumni Association

Cambodia Alumni President    Ms. Sotheany Lay (Theany)

In September 2011, I took a great challenge in joining IATSS Forum in Japan for 55 days. To me, it was a game changer. Strangers turned immediately into friends who started to study and work together. We explored and helped each other every day. Being elected as a President to the Cambodian IATSS Alumni Association (CIAA) affirmed how this program has changed me. I have enjoyed every moment in taking this role because I have made a lot of people smile with hope, and contributed back to my communities. I've encouraged seniors to meet and share their ideas, helped special-need people, polished all programs/projects, and provided professional skills and so on.

CIAA has been an officially registered association since 2015. It, however, was established in 2003 as an informal organization aiming to connect, inspire, equip and mobilize volunteers especially IATSS Alumni to help Cambodian communities on environment, economics, education, and cultures. After more than ten years, we obtain strong volunteerism spirit, which, of course, keeps us growing. CIAA has outlined its annual plan and implemented a number of activities and as a Co. founder of Project Cooling Cambodia (2011-2016), leadership seminars, charity works, alumni meetings and sharing and will continue to work towards a sustainable manner.

I can hardly find flaw in IATSS Forum, from its content mapping to overall organization - this Forum is incredible, providing extraordinary experience. Potential Leaders will be provided with a different leadership training experiences, which does not exist anywhere else but this Forum. It does not tell you what leadership is, you will tell the world instead what actually leadership to you, after the program is. It is a practical, self-discipline, self-observant, self-discovery learning journey. Not only growing leadership skills within yourself, but also you will learn all factors needed to create a sustainable society.

IATSS Forum helps me develop interpersonally and professionally, carrying great credential and confidence. I perceive and understand the world, leadership and even myself differently. I have developed lifetime skills, talent, experiences and work ethic, which definitely have shaped me who I am today to serve Cambodia professionally and heartedly.

Taking this opportunity, I greatly appreciate the efforts of IATSS Cambodian Secretariat, IATSS Forum Cambodian Committee, Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre (CJCC), IATSS Forum, and Alumni of all ASEAN Countries. I would acknowledged thanks to Cambodian IATSS Alumni Association's members and their families, who have made immense contribution to Cambodian society.

Orkun, Warm wishes with our strong solidity.

Indonesia Alumni President    Mr. Abdi Hamdani (Abdi)

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate to our youngest brothers and sisters on your achievement completing all series of forum's programs. Welcome to the family. Here in IATSS Forum, we don't have friends but we have family. Like you all may feel, I felt a very strong bonding as I concluded my 46th IATSS Forum batch in 2009. Togetherness and collective memory we shared are priceless, not to mention various privileges I gained. As I come back to my home country, I still kept connected and foster the network with the big family of IATSS Forum Alumni in Indonesia, respective alumni association of neighbor countries in ASEAN and of course Japan, that I think will be important asset for every young leader personally and professionally. We are lucky to have regular IATSS Forum Alumni Meeting; we can sustain and broaden the network. It is undeniable fact that world is becoming 'borderless'. We need to have a strong networking and good understanding each other to live a peace world. Hence, we are now in the region entering a new era, ASEAN Economic Society (AES).

As the president of IIFA, I would like also to inform you that our organization now is on the move. We are now working on organization improvement and support country secretariat to attract more Indonesian young leaders to apply. Another focus of IIFA program is to facilitate alumni's activities. Our successful program, Road Crossing Training for Kindergarten students initiated by alumni chapter Bandung (about 130 kms from Jakarta), is now replicated in some cities in Indonesia. Our nearest program is Mini Gashuku organized by IIFA in collaboration with Junior Chamber of Commerce in Solo (city of origin President Joko Widodo, about 500 kms from Jakarta). Our target participants are young professionals and entrepreneurs.

Finally, I would like to encourage all alumni to be active and proactive to something for your own country, as well as for the region. No need to be phenomenal in scale, yet the more important thing is meaningful to the beneficiaries. And let's get connected and take the most advantage from our networking. I am very much happy to see our collective spirit these days. Please come to Indonesia and we will have you as our family.

Malaysia Alumni President    Mr. Lim Poh Aun (Lim)

I was the Coordinator of the 17th IATSS Forum batch made up of 12 Malaysians and 2 Singaporeans in Feb to Apr 1991.

It was very memorable experience for me as I got the honor to give the Opening Speech, Closing Speech, meet the Malaysian ambassador to Japan, the Mayor of Suzuka etc. that I had never in my wildest dream, imagined I would get to do during my 74 days of Leadership Program in 1991.

I cherish the opportunity to have three host families in Suzuka, Nagoya and Hiroshima. After my return to Malaysia, I still kept in contact with them and even got to meet up and take my Nagoya host family around when they visited Penang for a holiday. We participated in the Cultural night event and meet students in Elementary and High Schools.

After my return from IATSS Forum Suzuka, I was privileged to attend the first IAM (International Alumni Meeting) that was held in Holiday Villa, Subang Jaya, Malaysia. I made a point of being involved in MIFA (Malaysian IATSS Forum Alumni) by joining as a lifetime member and was Vice President for 3 terms, 1992 to 1994, 2006 to 2008 and 2012 to 2014.

I would encourage all our alumni members to keep in touch, stay connected, get involved, participate and contribute to our society and expand your professional horizons as well, not only in our home country, but also in ASEAN and Japan.

I am glad to see more intra-ASEAN activities like the ASEAN IF Newsletter that had been recently launched. Some of our alumni members also stay connected through volunteer services, social events and projects that they can work together. The formation of SIG (Special Interest Groups) could be a means of increasing the interaction between past participants and current participants in Malaysia, for example SIG for those who like to travel, cook ASEAN dishes, technical talks on road safety.

I would sincerely like to express my utmost gratitude to IATSS Forum and HONDA Motor for granting us the opportunity to take part in this kind of forum.

Myanmar Alumni President    Mr. Kyaw Dewa (Kyaw)

Firstly, I am very privileged to serve as the president of Myanmar Alumni Association. My batch is the 47th IATSS Forum at Suzuka and I was honored to have successfully completed the 55 day Leadership Program in 2010.

All alumni members achieved a great milestone in our lives. Requisite expertise both theoretical and practical in Team Building Skills known as Gasshuku, Facilitation Skills, Leadership Skills, Group Discussions, Coordinator Skills, Time Management, Self Management and so on had added in our portfolio for application.

Moreover, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to IATSS Forum and HONDA Motor for granting us the opportunity to take part in this kind of forum.

I am proud to be part of the over 40 Myanmar alumni fellows nurtured by a multidisciplinary approach during the forum. One of our goals is to increase our alumni participation rate, and to accomplish this we need the assistance from all alumni members. As big accomplishments begin with small acts, each of us plays a key role before and after the remarkable 8th IAM (International Alumni Meeting) fruitfully held in Yangon in December, 2015.

Besides, I cordially invite our alumni members to stay connected through volunteer services and social events. Please expand your strong network nationally and internationally as AIM (Alumni Association of IATSS Forum Myanmar) interacts with IATSS Forum International Alumni Associations including Japan.

Finally, I do encourage our alumni members to keep in touch, stay connected, get involved, participate and contribute to our society and expand your professional horizons as well.

Best wishes for our commitment !

Philippines Alumni President    Ms. Cleofe Velasquez-Ocampo (Oks)

Dear friends,

Greetings from the Philippines!

We hope that all are in the best of health and circumstances.

This year, 2016, marks a milestone in the participation of the Philipppines in IATSS Forum. It is our 25th anniversary as a partner of IATSS in pursuing its goal of providing opportunities for young of ASEANs to gain leadership skills while learning together. We hope that you can join us in our celebration later this year.

The experiences of each and every participant are unique. However, the application of the experience points to a common inspiration - service and pursuing common good. The Forum provided for the meeeting of hearts and minds expressed by the appreciation of the diversed cultures and personalities of the participants. The strong bonds between batchmates and friends across batches and countries says it all.

I would like to challenge the new set of alumni to take into heart the meaning of the privilege you have been given, match it with the commitment to give the same experience to others. Be an active participant in making a difference, the IATSS way.

Singapore Alumni President    Mr. Eli Chong Lo Han (Eli)

About 10 years ago, I was one of the 18 participants for the 39th IATSS Forum (IF) programme in Suzuka, Japan. The experience at IF has been one of the biggest highlights in my life, as it has shaped my thinking in my personal leadership journey over time.

One of the less told learning I remembered, close to my heart from IF, was understanding Japanese-styled working philosophy. Often, from young, Japanese are taught to think about what they are doing, who they are doing for, and the 'whys' they are doing it.

From a very young age, if you visit any elementary school in Japan, we often observe how the children are brought up to take care not only for themselves but also to cultivate the mindfulness in caring about others and their environment. For example, the children are taught to tidy up after every meal and class day, as if the school belongs to all of them. This is one of the most deeply felt learning I gained from my IF days. How many of us, will have the mindfulness to think first for others, especially more so now, when we are so deeply embedded in our own virtual realities? The eye for details and taking initiatives are what make Japanese people well known for. Every time, we hear of natural disasters happening in Japan, we often observe the Japanese people's strength in supporting each other despite the enormous calamities. These connected mental and physical aspects of mindfulness I learned, is known as "kokorogamae" or "心構え" The late Soichiro Honda, Founder of Honda Motor Co. encompassed this philosophy. It is what make the company a great one today. IF was Soichiro Honda's brainchild in growing the leadership potentials in ASEAN, in returning to society, sharing what he gained from it. I believe, every one of us, who has gone through the IF, is grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in shaping our individual leadership growth.

In Singapore, many of our alumni members, have moved onto bigger leadership roles, contributing in various sectors both locally and overseas. It is my hope too, that we can emulate the Japanese philosophy of work in paying forward, caring for others and making our society a better one for everybody. Individually, we are strong and we will continue to work on our collectively strengths in making the Singapore IATSS Forum Alumni (SIFA) a greater team, supporting our ASEAN alumni neighbours and IATSS Forum, Japan in different capacities. Ganbarimashou 頑張りましょう!

Thailand Alumni President    Ms. Worrawan Asawakun (Worrawan)

From my point of view : Even the IATSS Forum has been staying for more than 30 years but IATSS Forum still maintains the unity and has expanded more networks and connections throughout the region as well.

For Thailand IATSS Forum alumni, as president, the most important thing I like is the teamwork from different generations of Thai alumni to continue to make contributions in all activities of IATSS Forum Alumni.

My future plan
Thailand IATSS Forum Alumni (TIFA)
VISION (2016-2020)

Thailand IATSS Forum Alumni actively and constructively contributes to the benefits and advancement of Thai society


1) To support and promote IATSS Forum and its philosophy of leadership development across Thailand.
2) To facilitate and strengthen a collaborative network within Thailand IATSS Forum Alumni and with other ASEAN member countries and Japan.
3) To mobilize various resources and potentials in the actions for the benefits and advancement of Thai society.

Vietnam Alumni President    Mr. Pham Xuan Hoan (Tony)

It is extremely my privilege to gain the chance to join the 52nd Batch of IATSS Forum and now taking the role of Alumni President. IATSS Forum inspires me by its leadership approach and core values which intend to bring out people's best quality. The 55 days of learning and thinking together with a cohort of young and talented people from different social and cultural backgrounds and different nationalities in Japan was just a great experience to me. IATSS Forum's learning dynamics help me to learn more about social responsibility and commitment. But what impresses me most is the leadership development through kindness that has strongly influenced my approach in life. Returning home country I find my passion in connecting alumni, coordinating community works and showcasing the image of IATSS Forum scholarship to the society.

I am glad to see that VIFA has now become more dynamic and active. VIFA has the mission "to form a cohesive alumni network which actively contributes to the sustainable development of IATSS Forum and the local community". We have formulated three clear purposes for alumni activities which are for alumni, for IATSS Forum and for the community. VIFA activities are underlined by a set of core values: "commitment, trust, sustainability" which is commonly accepted by alumni members. Inheriting IATSS Forum's motto, VIFA focuses on promoting a collective strength among members and together we make the better community.

Japan Alumni President    Mr. Noriaki Koyanagi (Nagi)

As a participant of the 49th IATSS Forum (IF), I had a wonderful experience through the program with others from ASEAN countries and Japan.

IF was a turning point in my life. It changed my value and way of thinking about others. I realized my knowledge and experience was biased and narrow to be an effective leader. Cooperation with one another and the relationships that I developed was a wonderful experience. Joining the IF, whilst a challenge, is a highly recommend to be a part of. Learning from others' experiences will give you a different perspective on leadership and that is something that you will value forever.

Japan IATSS Forum Alumni Association (JIFA) was established in April 2016. I was confident that the official Alumni association in Japan can help support IF with our experiences we gained from the program. JIFA's vision is to bridge between all who has been involved in the IF, while also forging greater friendships and continuing to strengthen ties.

JIFA provides support around promoting the IF program by organizing an optional Tokyo tour, a welcoming party with having ITASS alumni presence. JIFA can also offer support to alumni members visiting Japan from overseas. Our hope and vision for the future is to grow JIFA, connect and collaborate closely with other countries' alumni associations.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, comments and requests or when you visit Japan. We will provide information promptly and be your guide in Japan!