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"Young people built connections and enjoyed cultural performances"
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"Young people built connections and enjoyed cultural performances"

Carl KonaduYouth delegates descended on Sri Lanka this weekend for the Ninth Commonwealth Youth Forum. The international summit will see the inauguration of the Commonwealth Youth Council, a new body aiming to become a voice for young people, writes Carl Konadu, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from London.

Delegates arrived on Saturday in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, for the Ninth Commonwealth Youth Forum 2013, focused on the theme ‘Inclusive Development – Stronger Together’. 

Youth leaders from across the Commonwealth, selected to represent their countries, are coming together to identify and address issues of development of particular interest and concern for young people. 

The Forum will also see the inauguration of the new Commonwealth Youth Council, a youth-led autonomous entity that will become the voice of young people in the Commonwealth.

Delegates arrived to a majestic welcome from Peacock dancers and lighting of the Gold traditional lamp, and were warmly greeted by the Youth Led Task Force responsible for organising the Forum.  Most delegates had started their journeys many hours before, even days, but were in high spirits and delighted at such an amazing welcome.

The Sri Lankan National Youth Services Council and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development staged a wonderful welcome dinner for the Commonwealth youth leaders.  Sri Lankan youth volunteers were on hand to greet delegates with the national flower of Sri Lanka; the water lily, which signifies the values of youthfulness, courage and togetherness.   

Delegates then walked a path lit by festive lights, led by bench drums and ‘Whip crackers’, displaying their strength and announcing a traditional procession with thunder clap sounds using kasa whips which in ancient times, used to signal a coming rainstorm. 

The traditional ‘Perahara’ procession included traditionally dressed young men performing with fireballs, charming devotional Peacock and wood stick dancers. Two Sri Lankan style “dressed” elephants surprised the crowd and rounded off the first phase of an already amazing evening.

Over dinner, delegates and young people from across Sri Lanka built connections and enjoyed a plethora of cultural performances by the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Group, Tamil Dance, the Drum Orchestra from the Lyseum International School.

Delegates expressed amazement at the extensive efforts to welcome them to the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, and were looking forward to the next day’s official Opening Ceremony and plenary sessions on youth empowerment and participation in the Commonwealth. 

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About me:

I am an International Relations and Politics student from London. I live by the notion that ‘The World Is Yours’ and as a result you can do anything you put your mind to. With a background of sport, I have a passion for the SDP sector as well as the governance of sport and the use of sport by governments as a diplomatic tool. Some of my interests include the sustainable rise of Africa, financial markets and general international affairs. 

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response. 

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

 

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