Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Countdown to the Conference: 16 days - Building Bridges

           At 5:40 am, the SLU van rolled through the sparsely populated streets of early morning Colombo to begin collecting those who would be travelling upwards to Kandy later that Monday morning.  The purpose of the expedition was straightforward.  The team was to talk to the administration of Trinity College, prepare sleeping accommodations, finalize eating arrangements, and determine session locations for the students.  The time spent on picking up members throughout Colombo combined with the winding roads and heavy traffic all contributed to the fact that the noon sun was high in the sky as we pulled up to the gates of Trinity College.  Nevertheless, the administration was gracious enough to accept our audience immediately in one of their professionally furnished conference rooms.  The team soon split into pairs to view different parts of the campus and examine their suitability for the purposes that had been assigned to them.  Despite the difficulties provided by the pouring rain and ponderous amount of steps and stairways scattered across the grounds, the college administration made it clear that they wanted to make our job as simple as possible.  Needless and hypothetical expenses were cut to the agreement of both parties, and every facility that was not otherwise engaged was put on the table for optional use at the conference.  Food availabilities were made flexible for the variety of requirements that the students’ medical conditions and religious duties had designated.

            From Sri Lanka Unite’s inception, Trinity College in Kandy has been a staunch supporter of the Future Leaders Conference.  Their SLU chapter has been an active and recognized club from the scores of clubs that have been established nationwide.  In the opening stages of outlining a Future Leaders Conference that could accommodate 1000 participants, each member of the college faculty made it clear that they individually supported a joint venture between SLU and Trinity College.  Both parties share the responsibility and neither is subordinate to the other.  While strong interpersonal relationships are necessary within SLU, ties also need to be cemented on broader horizons.   Old networks must be maintained just as new ones are initiated.  A striking fact about SLU is its ever growing number of connections to passionate groups and individuals who wish to see reconciliation in Sri Lanka.   Sri Lanka Unites does not renege on its relationships, and it continues to go out of its way to forge new contacts and recognize those who have been gracious enough to partner with our vision and cause.

            A three hour visit was promptly followed by another four hour ride back to Colombo.  Though most of the day was spent in transit, it was clear that the trip was both productive and successful.  The helpful willingness of Trinity College’s administration was reflected in the smiles and excerpts passed between the SLU crew members.  Aside from the technical success of the sojourn, perhaps the satisfaction was simply derived from the fact that the aspirations of the younger generation are taking hold of the hopes of many in all of Sri Lanka’s districts.  

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