NEW YORK – Cultural Vistas is pleased to announce that Aushim Merchant, a 2016 alumnus of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders (YSEALI), has been named the recipient of its 2019 Alumni Impact Award and will be recognized at the Cultural Vistas Awards Gala on Thursday evening, October 17 at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City.
A native of Bangkok, Aushim is a young and dynamic leader and social entrepreneur whose professional work focuses on addressing the global crisis of plastic waste pollution. He is also a passionate youth advocate and the founder of the Mintra Foundation which promotes inclusiveness in education, economic development, and environmental protection in his native Thailand.
In March 2016, Aushim took part in the YSEALI Generation: Oceans regional exchange workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia. This regional workshop, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and administered by Cultural Vistas, brought together 64 ASEAN youth leaders and 16 mentors from the region and the U.S. to develop realistic, scalable solutions to the region’s marine and coastal threats.
During the four-day workshop, he began contributing to the Mekong River Project, an initiative to encourage communication and collaboration between leaders from Laos, Myanmar and Thailand to promote the conservation of the Mekong River.
This program aims at empowering youth from vulnerable communities around the Golden Triangle as “Mekong River Ambassadors” through the creation of an eco-tourist circuit in the region; at the same time, highlighting the effects of climate change and the importance for environmental protection of the Mekong River.
The Mekong River Project was later selected from over 850 proposals from more than 50 countries to earn $25,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of State through its Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund.
A multiple-time U.S. Department of State exchange program alumnus, Aushim teamed up with Cultural Vistas once again in October 2017, serving as a facilitator and mentor for fellow ASEAN alumni during the 2017 YSEALI Summit, held in the Philippine capital of Manila.
Aushim credits his YSEALI experiences and subsequent collaboration with Cultural Vistas for helping to provide a platform to successfully amplify the impact of his work.
“Cultural Vistas has had an incredibly positive influence in both my personal and professional life,” said Aushim. “From expanding my horizons and giving me the opportunity to interact with bright minds and young leaders, it has helped me grow into the person I have become today—courageous and confident.”
Aushim’s environmental conversation efforts continue to grow in influence. In recent years, he has participated and served as a delegate speaker at the One Young World Summit, represented Thailand at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India (2017), the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (2018), and the Australian ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program (2019).
Established in 2018, the Cultural Vistas Alumni Awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding exchange program alumni who exemplify the mission of Cultural Vistas and have achieved outstanding distinction in their careers and communities. Aushim will join Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, and Siemens Healthineers among the awardees to be recognized at this year’s Cultural Vistas Awards Gala.
To purchase Gala tickets and support the mission of Cultural Vistas, please visit: culturalvistas.org/gala.
Alumni Impact Award Recipients
Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, 2016
Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, 1995-96