Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hasanthika Samaranayke - A Story from the West

During the first decade of the war, I was quite ignorant of it. The reason was that when the war was going on I was living at Gampaha which was a place completely unaffected by the war.  However what did make an unforgettable impression on me were the bomb attacks in Colombo. Out of them the most unforgettable one is the bomb explosion that happened at the Fort Railway Station. Being an Advanced Level student at this time I too felt for the families that had lost daughters and sons my age. Even though no one in my family was involved in or affected by in any direct way in the war, fear and anxiety was felt by everyone. I remember what my mother told one day when I was a child- “When I was in University, I had so many Tamil friends and they were quite friendly with us. But now? They are so afraid of us and we are so afraid of them”.

I entered University at the end of 2009 and by that time the LTTE was militarily defeated and the hope for peace and unity was felt by many. Fortunately the University I entered was the University of Colombo and there I was able to be a part of a multi religious and multi ethnic environment. Here I was able to acquaint myself and then make friends with students of all ethnic groups and thus slowly misconceptions about other ethnicities faded away. After completing my degree I had the privilege to work at Wesley College, Colombo and here too I was quite fortunate to work with a multi religious and multi ethnic community. While working at Wesley College I had the chance to meet Mr. Prashan De Visser, the president of Sri Lanka Unites, which was a movement for peace and reconciliation. After working with the movement for a while I decided to leave Wesley College and be a part of Sri Lanka Unites in a larger capacity. Today while working as the English Language Teacher of the Kamburupitiya SLU Reconciliation Center I am extremely happy about the decision I made a year ago.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My first experience with SLU was volunteering at the Future Leaders Conference Season 5 held at Sanghamitta College, Galle. There I met students from all across the country coming from all ethnicities and religions. It was because of that wonderful experience almost all the misconceptions I had regarding other races vanished. At the conclusion of the conference I had hope for a better and united future for our nation. While working for the Center I am able to meet many different students but most from the Sinhala Buddhist backgrounds. I hope we will be able to connect and work further with the Mullaitivu Reconciliation Center in order to further our ties and to understand the other community better. 

Hasanthika Samaranayake - 24 years old, English Language Teacher of Kamburupitiya Sri Lanka Unites Reconciliation Center

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