My journey began with the online registration process, which required me to submit a profile, craft an essay, and shoot a video that reflected my passion and commitment. The competition was fierce, but the moment I received the invitation to attend the festival, I knew I was about to embark on a life-changing experience. Not only was I selected to participate, but I also earned the honor of representing St. Petersburg as part of the official delegation.

The entire delegation, consisting of approximately 400 young individuals, took part in a pre-departure meeting with the Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov. During this session, we delved into the rich history of St. Petersburg, gaining inspiration and motivation from him. As a bonus, we were gifted with cool merchandise that symbolized our unity as a delegation.

“Participating in the World Youth Festival was a unique and unforgettable experience for me. The event offered an amazing and very rich program, and most importantly, the opportunity to communicate with people from all over the world! Every walk, every bus ride ended with new acquaintances and an exchange of gifts. Now I hope to foster all these connections and maybe organize an international project with everyone I met,” shared Maria Printseps, a Bachelor’s student at ITMO’s Faculty of Biotechnologies.

The journey from St. Petersburg to Sochi was an adventure in itself, spanning over 36 hours by train. Despite the long duration, the camaraderie among the delegation members made the trip enjoyable. We arrived at the World Youth City (the site of the festival) on March 1. 

The festival's diverse program offered a plethora of activities, from enlightening lectures and engaging panel discussions to vibrant concerts and friendly games. A highlight of the festival was the World Youth Parade, a spectacular display of unity as each delegation marched proudly, showcasing the uniqueness of their country or region. I, too, had the privilege of marching alongside the St. Petersburg delegation, imbued with a sense of pride and camaraderie.

The St. Petersburg delegation forged special connections with the delegations of India and Vietnam. These collaborations went beyond mere exchanges; they manifested in vibrant flash mobs, intense chess matches, and insightful dialogues. These interactions served as a testament to the festival's overarching theme of fostering global understanding and cooperation.

“The delegation from St. Petersburg was very friendly and active, we discovered a lot of things in common. Many of them spoke very good English, so there were a lot of interactions between us happening every day – we even played chess. So, chatting with the delegation was really fun, it was one of the best interactions that we had in Russia,” shared Rajath Kumar Goud Kandakalla, the ambassador of the Indian delegation.

Photo courtesy of Subhrajit Barua

Photo courtesy of Subhrajit Barua

Attending the World Youth Festival in Sochi was not just a trip; it was a transformative experience that broadened my horizons and deepened my appreciation for the global community. As I returned from Sochi, I carried with me not only memories of a vibrant and enriching festival, but also the lessons that will guide me on my journey ahead. The World Youth Festival is an example of the profound impact that collaboration and celebration of diversity can have on shaping a brighter future for us all.