Preparations were underway long before the day of the most anticipated event of Sri Lanka Unites- The Future Leaders’ Conference. SLU reaches a five year milestone at this season of FLC. To say that our youth movement has come a long way is no denying. But the most encouraging element of it all is that that all the hard work, the effort and labour was entirely voluntary thus making this milestone all the more significant and meaningful.
A team from SLU and a Southern coalition made of SLU students in the Southern province and students in schools in the Southern province worked hard to create a successful event for the students. As we witnessed today the team had indeed put in a lot of effort and thought and had done it wholeheartedly. Although there was much still left to do only hours before the Opening Ceremony everyone regardless of age or position rallied round to make the event as perfect as possible.What was heartening was that no one grudged the responsibilities given to them but in fact asked for more.
The students trickled in slowly at first and registered themselves. Soon they were coming in large groups with excitement, nervousness and curiosity written all over their faces. For some this is their first experience of an SLU event. It still amazes me how pre-conceived barriers like language, ethnicity and religion all fall apart so easily when one has the chance to interact and get to know someone completely different from one self. Although this may not be the case with everyone I’ve found this to be true in numerous cases.
Finally almost 600 students and around 60 volunteers had arrived representing every district in Sri Lanka. It was time for the opening ceremony that would officially kick-start the Future Leaders’ Conference. Last year Jaffna took the opportunity to display the culture of the North and this year Galle did the same to display Southern culture and show Southern hospitality. The principal of SangamittaBalikaVidyalayaaddressed the audience and encouraged them to make use of the opportunities that is now theirs since the culmination of the civil war. She applauded the efforts of Sri Lanka Unites and encouraged us continue with our efforts. Later a student from SangamittaBalikaVidyalaya made an impressive speech in Tamil to warmly welcome the Tamil students from across the country. Following this the Champions of Change award for 2013 was awarded to Methodist College and Hindu Ladies College for their project on standing up against harassment of women. 8 other schools were also acknowledged for the best COC projects carried out in the past 5 years. After briefing the students about the procedures of the Conference the ceremony ended with a loud and vibrant cheer for each team as their volunteers took the stage representing their teams.
Work is still underway for tomorrow. The tireless effort of the team has definitely paid. There are four more days to look forward to and work hard for but with an enthusiastic and hardworking group of people it seems an easy and exciting hurdle to pass.