Stirling University – a quiet, scenic and picturesque setting, albeit a little dark and gloomy weather-wise. But not for long; today, Friday July 29, it bustled with activity, becoming overwhelmed by a mass influx of young people from across the globe assembling for the third World Youth Congress.

Designed to give young people their chance to have a say on matters of international importance, the event will be running until August 8. Hopefully this will give delegates enough time to form the crucial outcome document, which will act as a set of guidelines on issues the global youth can start campaigning on in the coming months. As the main Congress themes this year are built around sustainable development, it is likely the outcome document will be heavily influenced by these ideas.

But what is it actually like for the young people, who vary in age from 18-25, leaving home to embark on this interesting and exciting project? In addition to the 400+ delegates arriving today, there are already around 50 Young Journalists on campus; we came out a couple of days earlier to receive training and briefings on what our role will be during this event.

“It’s going to be different when the delegates get here, because our attentions will turn to documenting the stories and experiences they have had in the various countries and cultures they come from,” said Bart Abbott, 22, a Young Journalist from America who has been living in Hawaii. “There will be a fabulous and very intense atmosphere when the delegates arrive,” predicts Isabella Welspar, an 18-year-old from Sweden; “It’s been really peaceful and quiet so far with just the Young Journalists on campus, but when everyone else gets here it’ll become very noisy and busy.”

The delegates of the Congress, travelling to Scotland from locations far and wide, had a variety of reasons for wanting to attend. Daniel Grutters, 19, from the Netherlands was very interested in the learning and workshop aspects of the WYC: “It’s a great chance to develop and improve skills and knowledge.”

Nelson Tchamo, a 22-year-old medical student from Mozambique, was more attracted by the health aspects; he works as a newspaper editor at the information department of his university and is also heavily involved in AJUDE, a national youth association working towards the development of voluntary services. “I’m very interested in the health action projects and want to find out what’s happening in other countries to further the UN Millennium Development Goals,” he said. “It will also be good to meet other young people and learn from them.”

Nino Tavadze and Marina Balavadze, both from Georgia, told me about their first impressions of Scotland: “The people are very nice,” according to Nino. “I didn’t expect Glasgow to be so small; it’s a very green city and that was also unexpected.” Marina drew attention to the weather situation, commenting that she “didn’t expect it to be so cold here.” Nino added that she’d come to the WYC to “meet people from different places, exchange ideas and learn and find out how problems are being solved by other young people, for example in voluntary work.” Marina is a member of the ‘Youth Voices’ group of the World Bank in Georgia and said it would be “interesting to see how other countries involve youth in policy-making and monetary matters.”

The six young people I spoke to are only a tiny snapshot of the diversity in cultures and nationalities we will have here at the WYC during the coming days. From that perspective it is surely a unique event – at what other times will youth representatives from so many different places come together at a single location?

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