Youngsters returning from a cultural exchange programme in South Korea say it gave them greater understanding of international issues. Five delegates from Hong Kong joined the 9th International Youth Forum in Seoul last month. The forum, organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, was a valuable experience, and a good opportunity to cultivate friendship among the 200 participants from other Asia-Pacific countries, they said. During the eight-day forum, the Hong Kong ambassadors took part in discussion groups on cultural development and the role of youths, international cultural nights and exhibitions and visits to South Korean government offices. Boris Wu King-yeung, 23, said the exchange programme helped him understand the cultures of different countries. 'We also had many chances for brainstorming over the exhibition of Hong Kong's culture and the seminars. For the first time, I was proud of Chinese culture . . . it has had a very strong impact on the landscape and buildings of Korea, which impressed me,' he said. Another delegate, 19-year-old Lam Siu-ping, said the programme helped her personal development and communication skills and gave her greater understanding of international social issues. 'Many delegates from other countries were interested in our own exhibition booth, which provided information on the history of Hong Kong, the handover and our traditional customs. 'I was impressed by a Russian student studying Chinese culture. He spoke Putonghua very well and it boosted my confidence to communicate with him,' she said. Mr Wu said the pre-trip workshops explored their potential and equipped them with a strong background on Hong Kong and Chinese culture, social issues, youth trends and recent economic conditions. Meanwhile, 24 junior secondary pupils and six youngsters headed for Guangzhou and Singapore respectively for two summer camps. The Form One to Form Five students spent a week across the border, attending a Youth Arts Summer Camp with their counterparts from the southern Chinese city. The programme included training workshops on music, arts, calligraphy and dancing at the Guangdong Arts Teaching School. Third former Henry Cheung Yung-ho said besides making him more independent, he hoped to improve his vocal skills at the camp. Another six youngsters joined an eight-day Youth in the New Millennium camp in Singapore with 120 youth delegates from 21 countries. The programme included cultural nights, educational visits and workshops for young people to understand different cultures. Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups has been organising exchange visits since 1975 to many countries, including Argentina, Australia, South Africa, India, Thailand, Japan, and Russia to help give youngsters a wider experience of life.