Exploring Young Leaders International Forum through the eyes of the New Generation delegate

14 October 2019 Department of Information and Media Communications
On October 7–10, Young Leaders International Forum “Altai-Asia 2019” was held at Altai State University as part of the program of short-term study tours to the Russian Federation of young representatives of political, public, scientific and business areas from foreign countries “New Generation”.

The forum received the guests from 11 Asian countries: Armenia, Vietnam, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka.

New Generation delegate Ms. Chathurika Chilani Silva Atalugamage represented Sri Lanka. She decided to share her impressions of the forum. And now you can explore the event through her eyes:

"My name is Chathurika Chilani Silva Atalugamage. Graduated in International Relations Special Degree from the University of Colombo. As a person with a broad knowledge of International Relations, I have always been an advocate of International Politics, Geo-Politics, Balance of Power, Diplomacy, Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Peace, and Coexistence.

By considering my education background in International Relations, the Russian Centre in Sri Lanka informed me that I was selected for a program called "New Generation", which would be held in Barnaul, Russia.

Rossotrudnichestvo is a subsidiary of the Russian Federation under the Foreign Ministry. "New Generation" is a program that has been launched by Rossotrudnichestvo since 2011, that allows studying the Russian background of various fields such as Science, Politics, International Relations and so on, for the young representatives, from various countries.

I was very excited by the 6th of October since I got this valuable opportunity to participate in the aforementioned program by representing Sri Lanka. But I felt sad in the meantime since I am going to miss my family members for quite a considerable time period. (But that was changed during the tour and, I will tell you how that happened later on!)

I departed Sri Lanka on October 6th, landed at the destination airport Novosibirsk (Tolamachevo) in the early morning of October 7th. From there, we had to travel another 4 hours to Barnaul. I was delighted to see a representative of Altai State University who welcomed me warmly. But I had to face big trouble during my tour. That is, my baggage has been mishandled and was not transferred to the destination airport, which made me completely helpless. But the staff at Altai State University strengthened and motivated me so that I did not feel like I am alone. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, they helped me to become strong even though my family members were not with me.

After relaxing at Hotel Ob, we headed to Altai State University for lunch. On the way, I was exploring the surroundings of beautiful Russia, and it was the autumn season, and I captured those beautiful sceneries with my camera.

And then an introduction was also carried out about the beginning of the university. ASU has a great historical background and it provides state-of-the-art technologies for their students.

We visited some of the attractive places in Barnaul on the same day, such as Nagorny Park, City Embankment, and the Ob River. The most attractive thing was the Ob River which is the main river in the western Siberia and it is the 7th longest river in the world.

Then we went to visit the Southern-Siberian Botanic Garden that has biological importance. We were able to breathe the fresh air there. Being a person who lives in a highly urbanized area like Colombo, Sri Lanka, it was a great experience for me.

Young Leaders International Forum was officially started on October 8th with the representatives of Rassotrudnichestvo, Altai Territory Authorities, Russian Foreign Ministry Department in Barnaul, City Administration of Barnaul, Altai State University, Public Organizations, and the Youth Organizations.

At Altai State University representative meeting, I asked the following question as the only Sri Lankan representative in the meeting, "What option do you have for a university student who doesn't know the Russian language? Do those universities provide an opportunity for the students to learn the language during the first year?" And the answer was, "Yes, students who study at Altai State University will have the opportunity to learn Russian language in the first year."

In fact, the dedication of the Russian Federation in providing full scholarships with the opportunity to learn the Russian language in a reputed like ASU is highly appreciated.

After having lectures on Important Basis of Modern Communication and Tool of Leadership Strategy and Educational- Cultural Module, Historical, Linguistic, Geographical and Biological Variety, we were taught about traditional Russian clothing while giving us the opportunity to try them out.

Then there was the Award Ceremony after all we were having scrumptious dinner at ASU.

October 9th was a very sunny day when we were heading to Altai mountains region. First, we went to Anokhin National Museum and exploring the historical background of the ancient man's evolution, the Stone Age, the hunting era, and the modern era. And also, there were lots of historical things that witness the Russians became a great nation with their own identity. 

Then we went to see the Katun River and I had the opportunity to enjoy the best of nature. I was alone with nature for a moment, with the sweet sounds of the Katun River flowing with the clean air to breathe. The river flowing through the Altai Mountains was like a paradise for me. People, who like hiking, should not miss these awesome Altai Mountains.

October 10th is the day when youth delegates return to their home countries, we have said goodbye to each other and created a lasting friendship and memories for all of us through the "New Generation" Program.

Prior to my visit to Russia, I had heard that the Russians were not that friendly. But I would like to point out that this view is completely wrong. That is to say, no matter what language you speak, if you speak from the heart, it does not take much time for Russians to recognize it. Essentially, I don't think there are other people who know that the Russians are very friendly and helpful, better than me. Because I still remember how all the officers helped me, knowing that my bag was mishandled in Moscow. And, their hospitality made me feel like I am home.

Also, because of the difficulty in understanding Russian for a few participants, all phases of the program were translated into English by an interpreter. And, they were caring about us until we come back to our home countries.

If you read this article and are interested in exploring, remember to mark the Barnaul – Altai Mountain area in your tour box.

Lastly, I would like to thank Director General Anastasia Russian Centre in Colombo-Sri Lanka, CEO of the Russian Centre in Colombo, Cultural Section of the Embassy of the Russian Federation Mr. Buddhapriya Ramanayake and Educational and Public Relations officer Ms. Venurica Jayasinghe for selecting me for this program. And also, I would like to thank all the officials from Altai State University who involved in organizing the program.

And I believe that someday the "New Generation" Program will be able to cover the whole Russian Federation."

Ms. Chilani Atalugamage,
B.A (hons) International Relations Special,
University of Colombo

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