Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sri Lanka Unites Representatives on International Peace Boat

Sri Lanka Unites partnered with the Weeramantry Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER) to send a Sri Lankan delegation on the international Peace Boat. SLU was represented by national committee member and School relations co-ordinator Sanura Gunawardena and Trinity College SLU chapter representative Johann Rattwatte. Peace Boat is a Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment.

Peace Boat aims to implement positive social and political change in the world through global educational programs, cooperative projects and advocacy activities. These activities are carried out in partnership with civil society organizations throughout the world. Peace Boat carries out its main activities through a chartered passenger ship that travels the world on peace voyages.

Sri Lanka Unites was honored to be invited to be part of the Sri Lankan delegation along with the Weeramantry Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER) on the 76th Global Peace Voyage which sailed from Yokohama, Japan on May 8th, 2012. Each Peace Boat voyage is a fascinating mix of people from different cultures, ages, professions and countries. The wide range of experiences, outlooks and viewpoints on building a culture of peace combine to create an eclectic onboard environment that mirrors the diversity of the world and its peoples.

Our delegation boarded the ship in Singapore and traveled to Phuket, Thailand to visit an orphanage and an area devastated by the 2004 Tsunami. From Thailand the Peace Boat traveled to Sri Lanka where the Peace Boat travelers met with other Sri Lanka Unites team members. SLU delegate Sanura Gunawardana described his experience on the Peace Boat as a remarkable one where he was able to meet a diverse group of people from different cultures and backgrounds and learn and broaden his perspectives on reconciliation and other pertinent issues. He described the lectures, cultural events, sports activities and other events on board as a unique environment for building friendships and learning to make effective positive change in society. Specifically, he and the other delegates were able to learn about other nations’ efforts in working through similar issues as Sri Lanka.  They hosted forums with, an organized dedicated to reconciling ethnic divisions in Singapore and a team from Northern Ireland working towards reconciliation in their nation.

 Throughout the voyage, the Sri Lankan delegation facilitated discussions and hosted events to share their experiences growing up in a nation torn by war and their volunteer efforts to bring reconciliation to Sri Lanka.  The Sri Lankan delegation introduced Sri Lankan culture to the Peace Boat participants by hosting a cultural night prior to the day the ship docked in Colombo. Karen Hallows had the following to say regarding the Sri Lanka Unites representatives “Sanura and Johann did an excellent job onboard Peace Boat. It was a real pleasure to have them with us. Thanks to them, the participants of Peace Boat were able to see how youth are building a new future in Sri Lanka- truly inspiring! Thank you!”

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