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"The shine of the WCY – from one delegate's eye"
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"The shine of the WCY – from one delegate's eye"

Madusha ErandiThe World Conference on Youth was not all policy and resolutions, writes Madusha Erandi, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Colombo in Sri Lanka. Her behind the scenes view as a delegate describes how it also gave  young people opportunity to experience the culture and landscape of Sri Lanka.

The World Conference on Youth held in May 2014 won huge popularity among the youth, print, and social media.

This overall view is not a general outside point of view, but that of a delegate who represented Sri Lanka in a conference that attracted about 350 international youth delegates and 750 from different youth-led organizations all over the world.

Sri Lanka as the hosting country was able to put forward 150 Sri Lankan delegates to represent the motherland and to contribute in their best capacities to uphold the values of their  native country. Nearly all the marginalized groups of society were represented.

The conference addressed seven thematic areas related to education, employment, health, conflict and recreation. All seven were given an equal weight and discussed deeply in facts and matters.

The cultural show related to the conference  happened on May 5th late in the evening. This was beautifully organized and many events were included to represent the traditions of Sri Lanka. Although this was a little boring to Sri Lankans, it was a new experience to all fellow international delegates.  Food was served at the respective hotels, where one international delegate and one national delegate were accommodated in each room in order to build up the mutual interactions.  It was quite interesting to note the different life patterns of people in different continents and how their ideologies differ.

Delegates were eager to know about the Sri Lankan culture, and even about Sri Lankan people. For the opening ceremony, which was held in Hambantota, all participants had to leave Colombo early in the morning using the official transport provided by the government. It was an interesting journey too where the Sri Lankan delegates could hear comments from international delegates such as “Here your opening ceremony is in middle of nowhere”.

Some international delegates as well as our own people were exhausted on reaching Hambantota, but it turned out to be a set of beautiful moments. There was a stunning welcome that could hardly be beat, and it was amazingly decorated. All participants had to walk amidst traditional drummers and flag bearers. They were given a traditional mask to wear during a specific part of the ceremony. It was amazing – no words can explain. A great entertainment accompanied the conference, with a beach party after the opening ceremony.  Every person could enjoy the atmosphere full of dance music and happy laughter.

Foreigners were eager to explore and enjoy the natural beauty. It was  evident the way some international delegates were curious to know about riding on elephants and visiting Yala. The conference was held only for three days, thus it is doubtful all those expectations turned into reality.

Plenary sessions commenced the next day and focussed on youth in the post 2015 development agenda. The venue was filled with youth ministers of different countries, international and national delegates, academia, journalists, observers and other types of participants. After that, specifics were discussed in a successful manner. All panelists who got involved were eminent academics, politicians and professionals.

Selfie syndrome prevailed very heavily at the conference. Wherever you turned, you could see group of youngsters taking selfies and sharing in social media. It was amazing to see Sri Lankans emerge within the international community by hosting such prestigious events like this.

However, after all the beautiful and interesting incidents we got the Colombo declaration on youth, where the outcomes of the conference could be used for the positive development of the youth around the world. It can be guaranteed that these outcomes were not only concentrated on one specific area of youth, but also dispersed in all economic, social, political, and environmental aspects.

Photo credits: Lishan Wikramanayake and Hemal Patabandige

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About me: I am determined and ambitious; ready to take up any challenge. A former journalist, I’m studying law at University of Colombo and doing freelance writing. I believe the youth is the fruitful future of any country and the positive anticipation of the developing world.

I love observing people, their nature and writing about them. I am a wannabe photographer. I swim, do athletics, and sing. I consider myself as a genuine social worker. Writing is simply my passion.

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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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