The parents and children stood waiting at Methodist College's primary school. The wind rushed against the gated entrance of the primary school. The ocean air left a salty taste in my mouth.
Some mothers and fathers anxiously walked their children over to the primary school to drop them off. Most parents waited for the bus to Jaffna to arrive. I watched. A father repeatedly rubbed the back of his daughter as they waited, while another mother tightly held the wrist of her daughter.
I understood the slight anxiety that consumed some of the parents. My extended family in Sri Lanka were also a little worried about our overnight travel to Jaffna for the conference.
It's only been about three years since the war has ended. Though much has changed in Sri Lanka since May 2009, fear of the "other" is still a reality on this Island. But, on that night Sri Lanka Unites was fortunate enough to have a few brave parents who were willing to set aside 30 years of built up fear to send off their children in the hope it may have some lasting positive impact on the Island.
On that night, I realized sometimes there is something greater than our individual obligations to ourselves or our families or our built up fears. There is our shared obligation to live in sake of humanity. And, sometimes this obligation helps us live beyond our fears.
That night I boarded the bus and closed my eyes leaving behind the salty ocean air along Colombo's coast line. Hours later I'd awake the morning after to salty ocean air along the coastline of Jaffna. As I stepped down from the bus, I took in the natural energy that undeniably unites the Island. And with that my first day at the fourth season of the Future Leaders Conference at Jaffna College began.