11 Indians were on board luxury liner for nearly 35 days

When Bagya Mary stepped out of the luxury cruise liner ‘Fuji Maru', she jumped with joy, ran across the arena, hugged her friends and was unable to speak for a while, as she was seeing them after nearly a month.

Like Ms. Mary, two other youngsters – Muskan Rai and Anjana Prasad – of the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) were on the ‘Fuji Maru', as part of the 24 Ship for World Youth Programme (SWY). The 11-member Indian team was headed by Sajeev Joseph of Delhi and Ragini was his deputy.

Talking to reporters, Ms. Mary, she was excited about the whole trip as it gave her a chance to mingle with youngsters from different countries to understand their culture and habits, live together and communicate with one another for nearly 35 days on board, take part in various onboard activities and give a briefing about their respective countries.

SWY is an international youth exchange programme operated by the Cabinet Office, Japan, to foster international friendship among the participating youth and to develop their leadership qualities. It also helps them gain a more international view by living with youth from different culture, faith, traditions and practices.

Parul Baru from Jammu and Kashmir, a physiotherapist, said, “It is a difficult time for vegetarians on board and we are getting used to it. We have to wake up by 7.30 a.m. and it is fun combined with learning all the way. Here, we also study and discuss common issues from a global perspective and participate in various activities that involve multi-cultural and multi-national exchange opportunities.”

As the official host, RGNIYD accorded a traditional welcome to the youngsters. They were received by the Institute Director P. Michael Vetha Siromony, vice-president C.R. Kesavan and Chennai Port Trust Chairman Atulya Misra.

Later they visited Balavihar, The Banyan, Indian Community Welfare Organisation, Ethiraj College, IIT-Madras, Stella Maris College, L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy to study their activities and interact with key stakeholders there.

On Monday, they will attend technical sessions at RGNIYD on subjects such as yoga, gender equity, life skills, social harmony, youth empowerment, education, environment, decentralised governance, MGNREGS and RTI, health and adolescent development. Later, the delegates will visit seven villages and depart for Colombo on Tuesday.

Fuji Maru carries 272 youngsters in the age group of 20 to 35, of which 140 are from Japan and 132 from 12 other countries – India, Bahrain, Egypt, Brazil, Spain, Peru, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, New Zealand and Venezuela. The vessel left Yokohama on January 31 and reached Chennai on Sunday. Its next port of call will be Colombo on February 16. It will return to base on March 5.

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