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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2040

Students of Davidson College, USA hosted by Unity Mission Trust

Colombo, 20 November, (Asiantribune.com):

The Unity Mission Trust hosted the 22 visiting students from Davidson College along with their Programme Director Dr. Kenneth Menkhaus from the 4th to 6th of November at the Hotel Ramada for a conference on “Unity, Integration and Harmony Building in Sri Lanka”. This is a unique first time event in Sri Lanka.

Davidson College which was established in 1837 is situated in North Carolina in the United States of America and is one of the top 10 liberal Arts College’s in USA. The students of Davidson College visited Sri Lanka for 10 days as part of the annual “Semester in India” programme.

The Semester-in-India features lectures and discussions in courses based at Madras Christian College in Chennai, and other institutions in South India, combined with guided travels throughout India and Nepal.

The Institution for the first time in its history, decided to extend the programme by visiting Sri Lanka. Contact was made with the Unity Mission Trust, through the intermediation of one of the Trustees, to consider assisting Davidson College by structuring up a conference to discuss post conflict Reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka.

The Conference that was structured for 3 days included very eminent speakers who addressed the students of Davidson College. The speakers included Major General Udaya Perera – Commander Security Forces, Killinochchi; Dr. Safras – Psychosocial Advisor at Office of the Reconciliation Advisor to the President; Professor Rohan Gunaratne – Head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) Singapore; Shyamala Pinto-Jayawardena – Principal of Shyamala School of Art and Founder Trustee of Unity Mission Trust; Mr. Nandana Wijesinghe – Social Affairs Director to the President; Professor Rajiva Wijesinghe – Member of Parliament and Presidential Advisor on Reconciliation and Mr. Bertal Pinto-Jayawardena – Founder Trustee and Co-ordinator of Unity Mission Trust.

In addition to in-depth, thought provoking and informative lectures, the visiting students were also given the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with several UMT Youth Leaders – many of whom were the same age as them. This interactive session was enjoyed greatly by both groups with email addresses and contact details being freely exchanged as its conclusion. The session wound up with an energetic music session led by the Music Director of UMT, Mr. Rukshan Perera, where the visitors even learnt a few moves of “Baila” ! This opportunity to mix and interact with one another in a relaxed setting was greatly appreciated and commended by all.

The students departed on the afternoon of the 6th of November for a tour of the Island, to visit major historical and cultural sights. Their visit to the North included being welcomed in Jaffna by the Young Leadership of the Unity Mission Trust who are resident in Jaffna. These Young Leaders thereafter arranged a brief seminar and arranged a site seeing tour of all the places of cultural and scenic interest in the peninsular.

The team concluded their visit to Sri Lanka on the 13th of November, expressing their overwhelming happiness over the warmth of their welcome in Sri Lanka and the specific comment, that they experienced a vastly different Sri Lanka from what was portrayed prior to their visit !

They departed from Sri Lanka stressing their desire to return again and again to this Land of a thousand smiles!

This is the first visit to Sri Lanka for the entire group, as well as being the first visit to the South Asian region for many of them. Moreover the programme organized by UMT has been the first of its kind organized for visiting students on an educational programme by a local group working in the area of unity, integration and reconciliation.

The Unity Mission Trust has been in existence since May 2009 and is a non-profit Trust that is dedicated to fostering unity, integration, healing and reconciliation between the teenagers and young adults in the Wanni area and their peers from all over Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

Students of Davidson College, USA hosted by Unity Mission Trust
Students of Davidson College, USA hosted by Unity Mission Trust
Students of Davidson College, USA hosted by Unity Mission Trust
Students of Davidson College, USA hosted by Unity Mission Trust
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