What it is:
Essentially, it's a youth program/cultural exchange program organized by the Japanese government lasting close to two and a half months. 11 countries (including Japan) come together and their journey begins in Japan before continuing on-board the cruise ship, Nippon Maru, to the next few port of calls. In this case, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Surabaya. Participating youth (PYs) will live with cabinmates from different countries on board Nippon Maru for the duration of their trip.
The program, Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP) is taken very seriously in certain Asian countries, and are more well-known. In places like Indonesia and Philippines, only one or two candidates are selected from each state.
Each country sends 30 participants maximum, excluding Japan, since they're the host country. Each candidate undergoes rigorous selection processes, in some cases, exams and various interview sessions before they are determined if they're good enough to represent their respective countries.
What do selected youth have to do before the official program day?
Preparation include various things depending on the committee you are a part of. (I was in cultural, so dance, performace items, costumes etc) All of the preparation will be for the national presentation/showcase on board the ship. Photoshoots/videoshoots as well as uniform designs and different "uniform" fittings will also keep you busy before the actual departure day.
What do PYs do during the entire program?
As well as the local programs and homestays, participants also have to go through discussion groups and other various activities either as a contingent (country) or in their Solidarity or Discussion Groups (selected by the government)
During discussion groups, PYs will discuss about their group related issue i.e. international relations, food and nutrition, natural disasters etc. At the end of the program, there will be a formal presentation for the entire batch.
Fun activities include, talent shows and competitions, learning about various countries' cultures through the contingent club activities organized by each country. National presentations = bring a date day, so ask someone out!
What happens after the end of the program?
In Singaporean context, all participants who've successfully completed the program will be officially accepted into the SSEAYP Alumni, or SIS Board. In addition to that, PYs of each batch will have to come up with a Pre-program activity (PPA) that they'll have to complete as a contingent.