Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Road Trip 2012 Day Two: To the City of Gems

As Day Two of the road trip draws to a close, it is with a mingled sense of accomplishment and anticipation that we reflect on the day’s events. We feel an air of triumph for what we already seem to have achieved, and an undiluted anticipation of what is still yet to come. The sense of accomplishment stems mostly from the success of the two workshops that we were able to complete in the two districts that we visited so far, Gampaha and Ratnapura. The 200 young student leaders that we were able to reach were undoubtedly inspired and would ensure that the Sri Lanka Unites torch would be lit for the first time in their schools, or, as in most cases, would continue to go strong.

What was most inspiring for us, as members of the Dream Team, was the overwhelming amount of time and effort these schools had dedicated towards setting up a positive and successful workshop for the top leaders of the schools in their respective districts. They were filled with so much passion, drive and enthusiasm for the cause which certainly inspired us in our own journey as well. The sense of welcome and gratitude we felt on arriving at these schools was something I know most of us had never experienced before and doubt will ever forget. We were heralded in as guests of honor, behind the customary Sri Lankan drummers and dancers  in the traditional Sri Lankan style, with eager students dressed in their school uniforms and blazers standing proudly at the entrance to their schools in a gesture of welcome.  The pride they felt was apparent and, according to a young student from Rathnapura  Dharmapala Vidyalaya who later spoke to us, their aim was to show respect for and give back, in whatever way they could, for what Sri Lanka  Unites had done for them and for how it had helped them develop as individuals.

As we introduced ourselves as the Junior Team of Sri Lanka Unites 2012, Prashan invited one of our members from Mulativu to introduce himself to the students of the Ratnapura District. Nijanthan steps up to the podium and, in a confident voice that had us dispelling all previous conceptions of his character as quiet and shy, began to talk in perfectly pronounced Sinhala.  ‘My name is Nijanthan’ he said in a language of his country that he was speaking for the first time in his life. ‘I am from Mulativu.  I haven’t had a single Sinhala friend for my entire life, but now I have so many and that makes me proud.’ A round of thundering applause ensued as the students, teachers and staff of Ragama Basilica College applauded this young individual who has symbolically affirmed his identity as a Sri Lankan, dispelling all division due to language, ethnicity, religion or race.  

As Day Two also brought with it the first ever workshops that needed to be conducted by us- the Dream Team 2012- mistakes were inevitably made. In fact, if I learned one thing through the workshops of our first day on the road, it’s that there are always a lot of things that can go wrong. Things don’t always go according to plan [or schedule for that matter], miscommunications do take place and, in many circumstances, chaos could ensue. However, what we’ve realized, in just the course of two days, is that we’re in this together. What is already apparent amongst this incredibly diverse, yet like-minded group of individuals, is that we’re all there for one another, and each moment is a learning process, a step along the journey, a journey in which there is yet a long way to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment