Monday, October 31, 2011

Royal International Head Prefect's perspective

contributed by Benislos Thushan

Following is Geethika Mannaperuma's (Head Prefect of Royal International School, Kurunegala) view on the assembly conducted there.

"On the 10th October, which was a Monday, 4 representatives of Sri Lanka Unites visited Royal International School- Kurunegala. The day’s assembly was basically based on the introduction of SLU to RIS. Ashfaque the head of the team along with Thushan, Thisara & Abishaek did a fantastic presentation which truly created an enormous impact on the students at RIS to join in hands with this youth movement to bring about a contrasting change in Sri Lanka. Although SLU was not a popular thing at RIS, this visit created opportunity to all the students who were willing to be a part of this network to fill up the registration forms and get their name in with SLU.

Further, the presentation by these four gentlemen truly inspired the present SLU members in RIS to create something positive within our school society. As a result we planned to carry out small workshops with each section in our school. We just completed our first workshop at RIS with the grade six students last Friday, which was the 14th October.

We are further planning to continue the inspirational programs with the entire school. This is all because we truly have learned a lot about what we should be doing to our motherland as responsible citizens. On behalf of Royal International School- Kurunegala I convey my most sincere gratitude to all the resource personnel at SLU. Also a very big thank you, the crew on the road trip for all you tireless efforts taken to reconcile Sri Lanka. Thank you so much Ashfaque, Thushan, Thisara and Abishek for stopping by RIS & spending time with us.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Navoda's Story

Interview by Elijah Hoole

I’m Navoda Ediriweera from Sujath Balika Vidyalaya, Matara. I was participant at FLC 3, that’s how I got involved in Sri Lanka Unites. 

I play the piano; music is my thing. I think music is a powerful tool when used appropriately. I hope to teach music one day. It’s mainly in this field that I hope to contribute to Sri Lanka Unites. 

Being a girl in itself is a barrier. Our school to some extent is conservative, which restricts our capacity to contribute to reconciliation. However our teacher-in -charge is very supportive and encourages us to do our level best for the cause.

FLC was a good experience. It was my first exposure to tamils. Before the conference I found it difficult to differentiate between tamils and tigers. But now I understand that tamils are no different from me. I have lots of tamil friends and I’m proud about it.

As a school club we’ve already done one small project. We spent a day with kids from the Buddhist Ladies’ Orphanage, Matara. We choreographed a dance and taught them. We also sang songs and told stories to each other. I enjoyed every moment of that experience. We are a new chapter and hopefully we will be able to do more towards hope and reconciliation.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hambantota: SLU's first presence

On the 26th of October, we arrived at Hambantota where we signed into a place called Ruhunu Resort. We spent the night discussing the life and quotes of Martin Luther King, which was both inspirational and enlightening to us, eventhough we were tired from the activities of the day.

The next day we went to 4 schools, namely Therappuththa Maha Vidyalaya, Tangalle Balika Vidyalaya, Tangalle Boys School and Beliatte Maha Vidyalaya. We did not expect much of a welcome in Hambantota, since this was the first time SLU had come to Hambantota, and so you can expect our surprise when the first two schools we went to showed hospitality in the true Sri Lankan style.

The Principal of the Tangalle Boys School showed immense interest and pledged his complete support to our cause. In fact, he was one of the few people from the South who actually admitted that the ethnice problem required a deeper solution than just the conclusion of the war. The excitement and keen interest showed by the students here at Hambantota towards meeting the members our team, especially those from the North and East was very moving and inspiring.

In the evening we had a team building session where we discussed different forms of conflicts, and strategies that can lead to conflict resolution. This added a different perspective to the way we looked at conflicts - it is not necessarily a negative. It can be used to make a positive impact too, depending on how we resolve it.

Then we discussed a few conflicts that we see in Sri Lanka, which included not just the inter-ethnic conflict but also the intra-ethnic conflicts such as the caste problem, class problem, territorialism and intra-religious/inter-denominational problems.

Today we are on our way to conduct a workshop at Tangalle Balika Vidyalaya. But I can already feel in advance that the workshop is going to be an immense success. Today we will leave Hambantota, knowing deep within us that we have planted the seeds of reconciliation in really good and fertile soils!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tamil and Sinhala Blogs!

We also have a tamil and sinhala blog up and running, parallel to this blog. Our tamil blog is edited by Arzath Areef of Kalmunai and myself.

The Sinhala blog is maintained by Thisara Nishad from Kegalle.

Make sure you follow them too!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day of Rest at Matara

On the 26th of October, on the day of Diwali we decided to take some time off our work, and have some time of fun and team building. We started off the day by having breakfast at a "Matara Bath Kade" (Matara Rice Shop). During this time we had a few interviews with Ashfaque, Kanishka and Thushan.


Following this, we went to the Polhena beach, and had an amazing time swimming and snorkelling. Many members of the team hadn't been to Matara before, and were greatly privileged to enjoy the beauty of the south and feel a part of it! Followed by that we went to Verahera Viharaya in Matara, the place which houses the largest statue of Lord Buddha in the whole of South Asia. This was a very exciting experience for all of us, and it also allowed us to be exposed to different religious perspectives.

Following that, we visited the Southern most point of the Island - Dondra Head. This was a very important point of our School Relations Tour, since we also plan on visiting Point Pedro, which is the northern most point of Sri Lanka.

Following this we left for Hambantota. It was a very important day of  the tour, eventhough we didn't do anything much. Part of the purpose behind this tour is to admire and enjoy the beauty that makes Sri Lanka the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and we achieved this to a great extent during our day of rest at Matara.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 3 of the Road Trip - Neluni's Perspective

by Neluni Tillekeratne

The third day started out with the Junior Team conducting assemblies
at Elizabeth Moir International School and Royal College, Colombo.we
were delighted to see the enthusiasm in the students who attended the
conference and the teachers-in-charge of the SLU Chapters at both
schools.Vimukthi Caldera of Moir and Chalaka Bogoda of Royal addressed
their schools and shared their experiences of the conference.
The team was then treated to lunch at the Flower Drum restaurant in
celebration of Arzath Areefs birthday.

The colombo workshop was then held at the Royal College skills center,wheere schools such as St.Joseph's College, Maradana,who have not
previously been involved with SLU, took part. The workshop included games such as the identity game, games on teamwork and thinking 'out of the box'. The games were aimed at improving the leadership qualities of the students who showed tremendous potential to be the next generation of leaders for our country. The workshop ended with the students being given the choice of leaving their fingerprints on a map of Sri Lanka as a sign of commitment to
their country.

The eventful day ended with a seminar for the Junior Team by Mr.Sanjana Hattotuwa , a well known media personality in sri lanka.He stressed on the power of media when addressing social justice.We were also introduced to many social media networks which were previously unknown to us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ratnapura Dharmapala College , Yohan's Perspective

by Yohan Perera

Our first thoughts on going to Ratnapura was negative. The main reason being the workshop at Kegalle Balika and the fact that we had to travel 2 and half hours for one school. It was my Manjula, Alex, Thushan and myself who left to Ratnapura at 4am on the 14th of October 2011. We didn't know what awaited us but Alex had a hunch that it was going to be something well planed. 

His words were right cause the moment we got down, there were students dressed up in vivid national costumes representing the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers. Indeed a shocker for all of us. Being 19, it was a very moving experience when small kids gave betel leaves and worshipped us. That was just the begining. The assembly was packed with cultural dances, acts ,songs etc. We felt that the whole team should have been their to experience the amazing commitment and the sense of love that the people in Rathnapura had towards the cause.
Reconciliation was not a new word for them because their school had so many quotes regarding peace and hope. After the assembly they gave us a small token to show their appreciation and this was the first time a school treated us so well. Their hearts were transparent. The students there were filled with loving words and caring gestures. The Deputy Principal of the school was very enthusiastic about the whole concept of youth led reconciliation. He was taken up by Thushan's contribution to SLU. And as always Thushan made many friends.

We all left with a warm feeling in  our hearts. Knowing that we have made lasting friendships and won a part in the hearts of the people in Ratnapura. Let us Reconcile, Let us do as much as we can to make a sustainable change.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 1 of the Road Trip - Vishni's Perspective

by Vishni Vincent
Every one were excited as it was the first day of the journey. The team assembled at Wesley College hall, as it was the first assembly. It indeed was a good start for a history making journey. The assembly commenced at 7:30 am, followed by breakfast at the School premises. Every one got into the bus for the first time and our first visit was to galle face green. We had a time of fun and fellowship there, we spent some time talking and sharing the importance of galle face to our brothers from districts out of Colombo. We took pictures. From there we all went to the new Sri Lanka Unites office, ( No. 113, Kynsey Road , Borella - Colombo 8. ) and started working together (painting, dusting and all the work to make our own office look whole), which was more than just fun. After all the tiring work we went back to Wesley College to have lunch, from there we went to Image Center, along the marine drive, Bambalapitiya. We had a session with Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala. Lessons on the importance of my contribution for a united Nation, violence is NEVER a solution in any situation and many more such valuable ideas were discussed. Then the girls left, where the boys other than the people in Colombo were taken back to Wesley College after dinner, as all of them were hosted by Wesley College for five days.

Report of Kandy

By Malshani Delgahapitiya

10th Oct. 2011

The 2nd assembly for the day was held as Hillwood College. The grade 12 students of Hillwood attended the assembly. 

The Sri Lanka Unites Junior Team (SLU JT), explained to the gathering, the importance of reconciliation and peace and how we as students can contribute towards this cause.
We left the premises after the assembly with the hope of seeing a SLU chapter at Hillwood College Kandy in the near future, and headed to the Hindu Cultural Centre where we lodged.

After lunch, the junior Team had a team time, which we used to learn and broaden our knowledge on reconciliation.  The end of team time was always full of fun filled and memorable discussions about the morning sessions and getting to know each other more.  

In the later part of the day, we spent time preparing for the Kandy workshop which was to be held the following day at the Hindu Cultural Centre. Since our team consisted of multi talented and versatile youth from across the country, our team leader, Prashan Ayya suggested that we should practice and perform a song after the workshop! We managed to practice the song while working on various other responsibilities each of us were given.  It was challenging but we gave our best shots to make the next day a success! After dinner, we watched the movie “Invictus”, to get a better knowledge about the great personality of Nelson Mandela.

11th Oct. 2011

All of us were up and ready by 6 a.m. for the big day in Kandy.  Each person attended to the responsibilities they were given the previous day.  A total of about 60 students from Trinity College Kandy; Colombo International School, Kandy; Royal International School, Kurunagala; St. Anthoy’s College, Kandy; and St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy attended the Kandy SLU workshop that was organized by the SLU chapter of Trinity College, Kandy. The students were mixed and put into several teams, irrespective of their schools.  

The teams actively participated in all the games we had organized for them. Each game was based on a reconciliation principle. The main attraction of the workshop was the forum theatre which showcased a series of unjust events that was later corrected by the students.  By the end of the workshop, the students were also deeply moved and touched by the vision of Sri Lanka Unites, and they all pledged to work with SLU to rebuild our nation and to be the change that we want to see in the country.  

Kandy workshop- A Success!! 

After a tiring morning session, the Junior Team was given a much deserved break by Prashan Ayya. So together with few of our friends from the Trinity College, SLU chapter, we decided to go around Kandy site seeing before night falls.  We had an amazing time, yet again getting to know each other better and enjoying the beauties of the hill-capital. It was almost 10.30 p.m. when we got back to the Hindu Cultural Centre and we were all very tired! BUT! We all stayed up, to learn more about one of the greatest leaders of the world; Nelson Mandela. After the team session, we all went back to our rooms to have a good night sleep to be ready to head to Nuwara-eliya the following day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Experience at Kegalle

by Sanjeevan Marine

Went to Kegalle from kandy at the morning, and we started our assemblies for Kegalle. First we went to Kegalle Balika Vidyalaya. Then we went to Duddly Senanayaka College and then went to Kegalle Maha Vidyala. The school visits were such a nice experiences. I saw the Sinhala Buddhist traditional things there.

Especially an unforgettable experience in Kegalle Maha Vidyalaya, I met a boy from that school. His name is Sanjaya. He participated in FLC 03. His father is a soldier in SL Army, and he lost his arm in the war. So the boy hated tamil people.But after the conference, two of his best friends are tamil. The meeting with him was a wonderful experience.

In the evening we went to Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. At the night we stayed in a Buddhhist place which belongs to SANASA. Our friends Manjula & Thisara arranged it well.

The next day we had a workshop in Kegalle Balika Vidyalaya. Then we finished our activities at Kegalle.

*Kegalle was such a beautifull place. It has an amazing geographical landscape. Its climate was superb…

I can’t forget my memories in Kegalle.

 Thank you!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Summary of the First Leg

Let me start with apologising for not delivering on the promise of Daily Updates from the Road Trip. We did not have the web connectivity we needed for this. However, this summary of the first leg of the Road Trip is only a gist of everything that happened. I will put up more detailed posts on the more interesting aspects of the Road Trip.

On the 9th of October, we left Colombo at 4p.m. heading to Kandy. At Kandy we were hosted by the Hindu Cultural Center. Our special thanks to Kishin Siva and his dad for making that possible. In Kandy, we visited Trinity College, who were the host of FLC season 3, and the welcome there was amazing!  We also visited Hillwood Girl's College. Part of the team went to Kurunegala district where they visited Malliyadeva Model School and Royal International. On the 11th of October we had a workshop for the Kandy and Kurunegala districts at the Hindu Cultural Center hall. It went off pretty well. The forum theatre, was one of the most interesting aspects of it. We had CIS Kandy, Royal International, Trinity College, St. Sylvester's and St. Anthony's participating.

On the 12th of October, we went to Nuwaraeliya where we had assemblies at St. Xavier's College and Beacon Hill Academy, followed by a workshop for both the schools. It was the most interactive workshop, and the response was excellent!

We left to Kegalle on the 13th, and visited Kegalu Vidyalaya and Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya. On the 14th, part of the team left to Ratnapura where they were warmly welcomed by Dharmapala Maha Vidyalaya which is our only member school in the district. The rest of the team conducted a workshop for the Schools of Kegalle district at the Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya. St. Joseph's Convent, Kegalu Vidyalaya, Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya and a few more schools participated.

That brought to an end our first leg! 5 days, 5 districts... Keep following as we continue to update you more about these 5 days and also about arrangements for the next leg, which will start on the 23rd of the month!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Language Barrier

                      "I do not know their language" said a boy from Hindu College, when I talked to him about the Champions of Change project and about their partner school, Joseph Vaz College, Puttalam. This got me thinking, on what more we can do to break this barrier of language. Mohanathas from Mullaitivu who is also a part of the Road Trip can only speak Tamil. But despite this, he still manages to get along with everyone else in the Road Trip team. He also says that he will be starting Sinhala classes soon, so that he will be able to converse with his fellow brethren.

                    The Champions of Change projects carried out by the Kegalu Vidyalaya students at their partner school Vattapali Mahavidyalayam in Mullaitivu is another prime example of how despite this language barrier we can still reach out and make a change! Like we've all heard - "Where there is a will, there is a way!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Update

This blog post comes quite late, but I will try to summarise all the activities of the past 3 days since we embarked on this journey. This week, being a very busy week for all the schools in Colombo, with elections around the corner, Shakespeare drama competitions and Teachers' Day celebration, worked to our disadvantage. However, despite this setback we managed to conduct assemblies at Wesley College, Elizabeth Moir International and Royal College.

Today, we had the workshop for the Colombo district at the Royal College Skill Center, with a participating crowd of around 75 students from all over the district. Musaeus College and St. Joseph's College were introduced to SLU for the first time and they are already working on starting SLU Chapters in their own schools.

The past three days also included a enlightening discussion with Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala on his views on Reconciliation and Justice, and a interesting session with Sanjana Hattotuwa, on serving Social Justice by utilizing telecommunication and media.
Further, we also had a brainstorming session on injustices around us, and what we as the youth of this nation can do about it. More of this to come in our future posts...

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Following the resounding success of FLC season 3, Sri Lanka Unites decided to visit all the participating schools from around the island. After much planning, and hardwork, finally on the 3rd of October, 2011 we started the long awaited Historic journey at Colombo.


1. Daily updates on the Road Trip
2. Diverse perspectives on issues in Sri Lankan society
3. Summaries of the sessions we have
4. Interesting stories along the way

So, keep following us.... as we continue this journey and be a part of the CHANGE you want to see!!

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