Friday, July 22, 2011

Countdown to the Conference: 19 days - Following the Road Around the Bend

            Out of all the programs and events that Sri Lanka Unites has initiated, the undoubted highlight of the organization is the annual Future Leaders Conference.  This year, over 700 students are expected to attend with around 1000 people being present at the conference including teachers, local volunteers, and international assistants.  SLU understands that the learning and transformation that the students undergo is a vital resource of reconciliation that should not be limited to a 5 day period every year.  Enthusiasm wanes, passion weakens, and determination falters when vision is unsupported.  These ever-present possibilities have led SLU to develop an advanced follow-up program to their annual conference.

            The SLU post-conference system revolves around the following two interlinked components: a comprehensive guidebook and the establishment of local Sri Lanka Unites clubs.  Upon returning to their schools, student leaders who attend the conference are often motivated to begin SLU clubs alongside like-minded students.  Local clubs strive to increase their own grasp of nation building, derive valuable lessons from inspirational figures such as Nelson Mandela, learn the benefits of cooperation through experiential learning games, enrich their surrounding communities, and benefit those of different ethnicities.

            To accomplish this seemingly daunting task, a guidebook has been developed that provides instructions for founding clubs dedicated to reconciliation.  The guidebook then lends suggestions for service opportunities as well as optional events like film and article discussions.  Voluntary possibilities are explored on a weekly basis that extend well over one year into the time window of the following Future Leaders Conference.  At that time, SLU hosts an awards ceremony to recognize those who have shown outstanding leadership and commitment to the future of Sri Lanka.  Such efforts have partially accounted for the growth of SLU and the Future Leaders Conference every consecutive year.

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