Music brings life to ASEAN’s community for all


A girl being forced to marry that curtails her own dreams. A poor man living on the streets because he was deprived of education. A group of people navigating Bangkok stuck in public transport.

How does the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) reach out to these people, and give them a sense of belongingness and hope? First, by floating these stories and making them accessible through arts including songs.  

“The concept of ASEAN as a regional organization is imperceptible to the youth. We want to bring close something that may seem distant, and that is by making them experience how it is be in a diverse environment,” said FNF Thailand Project Manager Dr. Pimrapaat Dusadeeisariyakul. “It was as simple as establishing a bond with their fellow participants from another country, or connecting with strangers on the streets. It was as modest as writing a song, but nevertheless heartfelt, and that is what the ASEAN community is about,” she added.

24 young participants from ASEAN member states met in Bangkok in December 2017. The gathering was an occasion to celebrate ASEAN’s 50th anniversary and by engaging the youth, a step in realizing the organization’s goal of promoting a people-centered community for all. The workshop “Dream ASEAN” solicited both their dreams and pledges towards creating a common peaceful and prosperous future.

“It is my first time to be part of an ASEAN program. I wasn’t familiar with ASEAN activities. Being here not only made me understand what it does, but also allowed me to feel how it is to be part of a regional community,” said one participant.

ASEAN Community Affairs Director Lee Yoong Yoong emphasized that the youth have to “take an active role to shape ASEAN of the future.” The workshop generated topics like human rights, education, media, and economic development. Comparing it to the European Union (EU) as an economic bloc, the group recognized the unique context in the ASEAN, and expressed that it may need to set its own template to promote cooperation in the region.

To draft ASEAN’s course, the participants merged art and technology for their presentations. Four songs, one short film, two viral online clips, and an infographic embodied the messages of the value of time, sacrifice, respect, and determination – relevant to how the youth can actually make contributions to realizing the ASEAN community.

Dream ASEAN would give the girl the freedom to choose, the poor man an opportunity for decent living, and the people the best infrastructure. The youth coming together and leading with their own ideas would turn these dreams into reality. “Actions make people’s lives better, and it’s time to walk the talk,” plays the newly-composed ASEAN song, which was an output of the workshop.

The event was co-organized by the Thai Government Public Relations Department and FNF Thailand.

The ASEAN Song. As upbeat as ASEAN's community for all.