YSEALI Alumni in Thailand engaged almost 400 people with the “COVID-19 Hack the Crisis Thailand” - a rapid-response COVID-19 online hackathon that included virtual workshops, networking events, project-pitching, and a seed-funding competition in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Thailand and private sector partners. Participants at the event worked in developing and pitching community-based solutions to the global pandemic, including prevention of misinformation and disinformation, access to mental health support, and channeling charitable contributions to those in need. The program, funded by the Global Engagement Center (GEC) at State, harnessed the ideas and U.S. experience of exchange program alumni, particularly Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) members. Thailand’s eLeaders Initiative alumni, Sitta “Sindy” Marattanachai and Radtasiri “Bes” Wachirapunyanont, initiated the virtual program. The two alumni credit their YSEALI Professional Fellows experience with building their skills and networking capacity, which they used to develop the virtual hackathon emergency decree and self-quarantine procedures to limit public gatherings and in-person collaboration.
Hack the Crisis, held from April 16 - May 1, 2020, gathered 55 institutional partners and collaborators in both the public and private sectors. The active participation of Royal Thai Government agencies, including the National Research Council of Thailand, the Thai government’s COVID-19 Information Center, the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, the National Innovation Agency, and the Faculty of Science of Chiang Mai University, has helped to scale up the program.