07 May 2018 | By Long Jing, Yin Zhixin, Xu Yechuyi and Zhou Jiawen |
Copyedited by GU Yiqing
Chinese delegation consisting of one teacher and four students from Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) attended Yowun Puraya 2018, an international youth exchange program held in Sri Lanka from March 28 to April 2, arranged by All-China Youth Federation.
Yowun Puraya, which means “the city of youth” in Sinhala, focuses on improving ethnic harmony and discussing the future of the country. Regardless of race and religion, young people from 26 regions around Sri Lanka shared the life together during the activity, indicating the concept of equality and solidarity of the nation. They built campsites by themselves, which belonged to different provinces. More than a living area, every campsite was also a vivid exhibition, showing the farming and irrigation system of local agriculture, the folk customs and the fascinating myths handed down from early times.
With All-China Youth Federation having been invited to attend the program several times, the SISU delegation received enthusiastic reception at every campsite. Many young officials volunteered to introduce the construction achievements of campsites to Chinese young people.
Moreover, they interpreted Sri Lanka’s stories vividly by using paperboards to build the hydropower station funded by China, showing traditional local customs, giving wonderful performances, and talking about their expectations and comments on Chinese commodities. They also warmly invited Chinese young people to drink tea, take photos, shake hands and have meals together with them.
Among these campsites, the delegates visited a special tent of the United Nations (UN) Office in Sri Lanka, learning more about the local development of the country by talking with Yowun Puraya project managers. Also, the UN project volunteers from South Korea and other places introduced the application methods of the UN volunteer service project and the UN’s approaches in environmental education in Sri Lanka.
Not only did the SISU delegation feel the the unique charm of Sri Lanka, but also they experienced the frequent non-governmental exchanges between China and Sri Lanka, which reflected the current achievement of the Belt and Road.
A modern hospital built by China was right near the hotel where the delegates lived on the first day, whose overall architecture style also incorporated the design concepts of local architects. China’s efforts to help the local economy grow could be seen almost everywhere in the following days.
On the last day, when the delegation arrived in Colombo, the local driver, who learned that his customers were from China, excitedly said, “The highway that we are taking now is China-made. It is the first highway in Sri Lanka."
China is also becoming a topic of local people. Although the tuition fees of 3,000 RMB of the Confucius Institute at the University of Colombo are still expensive for people in the country, the trend of learning Chinese was very popular. Also, local vendors are looking forward to Chinese tourists, while some of them feel that the cheap goods exported from China are far from enough and expect more Chinese high-quality products.
Through the short visit to Sri Lanka was short, young people from SISU felt the enthusiasm from the “Gem of the Indian Ocean” and saw the real cases of China’s construction and initiative of the Belt and Road helping a developing country’s growth. Moreover, they witnessed the fusion and sharing among different cultures, ethnic groups, and religions after a chaos in a country.
Yowun Puraya is of great educational significance to Sri Lanka, which used to suffer a lot from ethnic conflicts and civil wars and then be revived with the efforts of Ranil Shriyan Wickremasinghe, the Prime Minister of the country.
As the biggest international youth exchange program so far in Sri Lanka, Yowun Puraya is intended for 6700 young people and 200 officials of youth organizations around Sri Lanka, as well as 100 youth delegates from over 20 countries, and is held in the ancient city of Kurunegala and the capital Colombo this year.