It was an opportunity for cross-cultural experience for youngsters from north and north-eastern States at a national camp for National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers being hosted by the Madurai Kamaraj University here.

Around 187 volunteers from nine States arrived at the university campus on Thursday to participate in the Inter-State Youth Exchange and Home Stay Programme being organised from March 14 to 23. The camp is being conducted with the support of Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development at Sriperumbudur near Chennai. “It is an exercise to showcase our unity in diversity and to drive home the message that the youth have a role in promoting national integration,” Vice-Chancellor Kalyani Mathivanan said at the inaugural function. She informed the audience that the university was in the process of starting a School of Youth Empowerment with two departments connected to youth welfare and folklore studies.

The NSS volunteers have come from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha. The NSS cell of the university has arranged various events and sightseeing programmes for them. Sajith Babu, Youth Officer and Head, NSS Regional Centre, Sriperumbudur, said, “NSS was started in 1969 to commemorate the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi. From personality development through community service, the focus has expanded to promote soft skills and employability skills among students,” he said.

The participants in the camp will learn about various rituals, customs, traditions, culture, history, heritage and socio-cultural practices in this part of the country. They will have two-day home stay experience in the houses of NSS volunteers here.

Anbu Kavitha, NSS Training Officer, Sriperumbudur, K. Pitchumani, Registrar in-charge, and V.Chinniah, NSS camp coordinator, were present.