A visit of youth delegates to the University of Edinburgh for an event organised by the Edinburgh University International Development society that opened the eyes of a lucky few to the wonders of South East Asia.
Sri Lanka has had a troubling recent history, as a 26 year civil war - between the northern Tamils and the Sri Lankan government - tore the nation apart.
While the Asian Tsunami of 2004 brought the country to its knees both economically and culturally.
However, a new dawn has been brokered and a recent report declared Sri Lanka one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
On the back of this the delegates talked of the challenges and difficulties they face empowering young people to develop themselves.
The keynote speaker, Professor Mona Siddiqui, the assistant principal for religion and society at the Edinburgh University followed the delegates’ presentation on grassroots development, by echoing their views and stressing the significance of bilateral cultural exchange, the effect it has on communities, and how change must ultimately be driven by young generations.
Sri Lanka is now undergoing the slow process of realigning and rebuilding an ethnic and political landscape devastated and fractured by conflict.
In the aftermath of war Sri Lankan youth, presented with unemployment, poverty, a shortage of education, and lingering ethnic tension, must determine how to revive their troubled nation.
Representatives from the delegation spoke of integrating their goals—gender equality, reforming education systems, and providing better employment opportunities—with the decisions of policy makers.
They envision themselves among a newly active and outspoken youth in a country where a quarter of the population is under 35 years old and where young people have too rarely instigated change.
South East Asia often seems a far away land from Scotland, but in Edinburgh efforts were made to bring people closer together.
It was a fascinating and encouraging night that reinforced the clichéd, but true notion that, despite varied backgrounds and cultures, young people share optimism about the tremendous impact that can be had on the world.