[US to the Philippines & Malaysia 2013] Matt Summy: Trying to capture the experience in words

Meaningful connections are rare, which is why we value them so much when then happen. As a member of the delegation to the Philippines and Malaysia, we had so many meaningful connections that I remain in a virtual state of disbelief with both the depth and the quality of our experience.

I’m loath to summarize or paraphrase any conversations we had during our journey because, inevitably, they will fail to effectively convey how we all felt. But I revel in the opportunity to share just how the experience, and the relationships formed, continue to resonant with me.

The delegation in Laguna Province in the Philippines.  L-R Nicolee Ambrose, Matt Summy, Mandela Barnes, Sarah Fisher, Steve Schale, Nathan Dahm, Katie Koupal

The delegation in Laguna Province in the Philippines. L-R Nicolee Ambrose, Matt Summy, Mandela Barnes, Sarah Fisher, Steve Schale, Nathan Dahm, Katie Koupal

The geographic reach and topographical complexity of the Philippines make it a country of contrasts. However, it is precisely these contrasts that speak to the ongoing evolution of a country rich in people and promise. From the groundwork being laid by Kaya Natin, to the celebration of public service by National Movement of Young Legislators, the Filipino democratic foundation is firm, but the movement for change is palpable. I now find myself invested in this movement as I watch my new friends push to make their mark on education, social justice, economic development, and transparency in government.

In comparison, our delegation’s immersion in Malaysia was more about the cultural and religious undertones that guide the highest profile institutions in the country. For instance, the respect for history and historical documents embodied by the Perdana Foundation offered key insights into the worldviews of the country’s prime ministers, but conveniently skirted the contours and methods used to maintain electoral power (a lesson we know well in the United States).

However, a new tide is also rising – at once driven by demographic change, access to information via social media, and a worldly, educated youth movement. This tide is rushing ashore as a set of collective ideals that demands Malaysian democracy version 2.0. And in this model, access to information, the use of western legal strategies to strengthen civil society, and economic policy that supports participation in the knowledge-based economy will drive the country forward.

Matt Summy is the Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Comcast.

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