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Commonwealth Youth Forum: “A vitality and passion for culture”
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Commonwealth Youth Forum: “A vitality and passion for culture”

Young people from around the globe are in Fremantle on the west coast of Australia this week to take part in the Commonwealth Youth Forum.

Amanda McClintock, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Queensland,  reports on an evening of cultural performances from the young delegates.

There is one major difference between the Commonwealth Youth Forum and the other events on the fringes of CHOGM, such as the Business Forum. That is the vitality of culture that the young delegates bring to the able.

Proud of their heritage, they show no signs of fitting into what is ordinary in Australia, but rather bring their own flare and enthusiasm to the table. While these cultures have been on show in subtle ways since the start of the forum, the Cultural Performances Dinner at the Fremantle Maritime Museum seemed to present the perfect opportunity to involve all 140 delegates in experiencing a little bit of the culture from each region in the Commonwealth.

Dressed in national dress and ready to impress, the delegates filled the function room with smiles on their faces in anticipation of the performances that were to unfold. The first group to treat everybody was the planning group, singing a simple song to welcome all the delegates to the forum.

Then the audience was off on a trip to the Caribbean. Filled with singing, dancing and stories of their food, people and beaches, their vibrant music soon had everyone up and in a conga line dancing through the tables and enjoying the night for what it was, a celebration of diversity and the common goals that draw us all together.

With people standing on chairs and dancing along, while others with cameras filmed what was going on, the whole place was filled with the pounding beats of the Caribbean and the joy that came from being a part of the dance.

The merriment was interrupted only by the arrival of the Canadians. The four symbols to remind us of their culture were maple trees, maple syrup, blackberries and a moose. It made the whole group look silly putting their hands on top of their heads to make moose antlers but it was all in the spirit of the night.

Then it was off to Asia where delegates were treated to a story of two young people who met at CYF and fell in love. They travelled throughout Asia and naturally, an engagement party resulted. At this point everyone got involved in jumping around and dancing like there was no tomorrow, and for those who danced too much there may not have been!

Moving on from Asia and the next destination was Africa. The beats of African music came blaring out of the speakers and once again people were dancing everywhere. The rhythmic beats and the passion of the African delegates was clear as they danced around the front and throughout the room with no care in the world as to who else may have been there. They were free and, lets face it, slightly crazy!

But it was their passion for their culture that people will remember years from now. With the British delegates dancing awkwardly in the back as they tried to fit in with their African brothers and sisters, it was an amusing sight for anybody to witness. The delegates from Cyprus then shared a national dance with the delegates that got faster as it went, and along with the increase in speed came a predictable increase in the embarrassment for those involved. Once again, it was the passion for their culture that shone from the delegates who were wiling to share their culture with the rest of the world.

Finally delegates entered from the Pacific region. Traditional dances in costume and a welcome song entertained the crowd and gave them a chance to catch their breath momentarily after all the dancing that had been happening. But people weren’t free for long as the inevitable hula started and everyone was back up out of their seats to enjoy being given a taste of life in the Pacific.

It seems that no matter where in the world the delegates were from, they all share a vitality and passion for their culture that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Being able to be a part of that experience is what made the night so special and memorable for people. It was an event that will not be forgotten for a long time.

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About me:

“I am a working-class girl, full-time university student and mental health advocate from sunny south-east Queensland.

“Living in a small country town after growing up in the city only increased my passion for making a difference in my community and further afield, and for speaking up about the issues that matter most. Youth have a voice and it needs to be heard. Stand Up, Speak Up and Be Heard!”

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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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