Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Countdown to the Conference: 22 days - Then and Now

            Comparing SLU’s work and processes today with its former state allows for some interesting comparisons.  Two years ago, Sri Lanka Unites was preparing for its first Future Leaders Conference.  No such large scale meeting of youths from the North and South had ever before occurred under the conditions that were then present, and the excitement was palpable.  The frenzied atmosphere in the SLU office was proof enough of the unprecedented nature of the event as staff learned the ropes of filing the correct paperwork and laying the groundwork for a conference that was to become an annual highlight of SLU’s future work.  Perhaps the strongest memory that persists is that of the core team huddled around the SLU office table discussing strategy, reminding each other of important details, and laughing over each other’s jokes as one large family.

            If the 2009 SLU core team could be described as an immediate family, then its 2011 counterpart has brought aunts, uncles, and cousins along for the ride.  SLU now has staff teams within several distinct departments to enable the mechanics of preparation to run as smoothly as possible.  Many members of the team have now had two years experience and have streamlined their approach to managing the office.  The team now has a much better idea of the types of challenges that they face on a daily basis, and they use this knowledge for the benefit of their cause.  The vision remains strong, and now SLU faces the task of expanding the work that they begun in 2008.  Even though many thought it impossible, the initial challenge of creating constructive contact between all parts of the island has been accomplished.  Now SLU must continue their work into the long term scenario with perseverance while tending to those relationships already formed.

            Tonight, there is a meeting of those involved in the school registration and relations department.  For me, the evening is reminiscent of early core team gatherings of SLU.  The team must begin to organize and analyze the hundreds of applications that have been submitted by students wishing to attend the conference.  Spirits are high and it is encouraging to see the bond of familial cooperation has been sustained even as new members have been welcomed into the organization.  If this situation foreshadows the future relationships between Sinhalese and Tamils or Hindus and Buddhists then this can only be called a good direction for the nation. 

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