“Sentier- Creating Pathways, breaking Barriers”

4 Rotaractors of the Rotaract Club of SRM Kattankulathur of RID 3232, visited Sri Lanka on the 10th of January 2020, in completion of series of projects covering four main avenues visiting significant places in Sri Lanka organized by the Rotaract Club of SLIIT with the objective creating trails or creating pathways eliminating barriers, in the aspect of culture, geography, and ethnicity, with building communities, to elaborate more on the international understanding complied with the aim of exchange of different, vibrant, rich cultures among each other clubs. The progression of the participation of both clubs were during the course of 10 days starting from 10/01/2020 to 19/01/2020, while building life – long friendships, commitment for the societies, collecting experiences and memories and having fun. The Rotaract Club of SLLIT had arranged a widespread type of and projects and made sure everything was done effortlessly rendering to the plan.

First day started after warmly welcoming the delegates arriving early 10th morning and driving to Wilpattu National Park. On the way they engaged in an introductory “Get – to – Know” session with a small ice breaking game. Each delegate was delighted to see the warm, welcoming nature of our fellow Rotaractors on our way. when we arrived at Wilpattu everyone was getting ready to experience the wildlife of Sri Lanka and as it was the morning we were able to witness elephants, wild boar and one delegated swore she saw a cheetah but unfortunately we got to know it was a branch moving because of the wind. Later we arrived at a private lodging house at Puttalam for resting after taking millions of pictures and spending some quality times with each other.

Second Day started early with everyone packing up and leaving to kitulagala for White water rafting which brought excitement among each and every one of us. after arriving at the location, the boats and paddles were given with all the safety protocols by the lifeguards. It was a life changing experience for all of us since it was more of team building activity rather than surviving on our own. It was actually a thrilling but a fun adventure for all. Afterwards we arrived back to Colombo for a late-night movie requested by the delegates which was called “Chapak” and ended with a dinner looking out at the beach in Galle face. The Rotaractors of SLIIT teaching the Sri Lankan way to the delegates such as speaking in Sinhala, ordering food in Sinhala, and keeping them away from eating “Saravita”. 

Third day, after a late lunch with the delegates at Arcade Independence Square, where they were introduced for the Sentier – project committee who are also fellow Rotaractors of SLIIT. We also requested them to be dressed in traditional Indian clothing for the participation of “Rangoli – Light up my world” organized by the Rotaract Club of Centennial United with a humble objective of show casting Autism and other forms of disability are part of the human experience that contributes to human diversity. And we were able to be part of this self -effacing event. We were given a chance to draw Rangoli and the delegates participated in it eagerly. During the program, one of the delegate showed her dancing skills with a surprised dance and the crowd enjoyed it. The day ended with a delightful Indian snack “Poori” prepared at the event.

Day Four was an eventful day for everyone which we were able to go for several beautiful, picturesque places in Nuwereliya and one of those places are called the Upcott Waterfall. After leaving the scenic Kotagala Train Station which is one of the highest train stations located in Sri Lanka. A bit of a tiring hike took us to this beautiful waterfall which was located with rocks and everyone was not afraid to climb it, because of the exposure and the talents fellow Rotaractors of SLIIT has received through “Team Alpha”. we were given an opportunity to bathe in the waterfall which was enjoyed by everyone. After a tiring evening, arriving back to the lodging everyone was given a chance to relax for a while. At the end of the day, all gathered together for an interactive session with a game of “Truth & Dare” which was a challenging but yet a fun event for all of us. The boys were given a chance to dressed up in traditional Indian attire and were told to dance or sing to Hindi songs, while the girls were asked daring questions.

 

Day Five was also filled with many location visits such as; “Mayfield Estate” , a monastery located in Ambewala which was hidden inside a forest with a calming, soothing area, the delegates were given a chance to learn about the Buddhism ways which was taught by the head monk of the place. Thereafter, we arrived at the “Seetha Amman Kovil”  passing infamous “Devon Falls” to experience the religious beliefs of the Hindus which is to believe the site where Sita was held captive by (Vikram) king Ravana, and where she prayed daily for Rama to come and rescue her in the Hindu epic, Ramayana. On the rock face across the stream are circular depressions said to be the footprints of Lord Hanuman. Later, having lunch at Nuwereliya and a walk around the Nuwereliya Park we arrived back to Colombo.

Day six was an eye opening day for the delegates as they were given a chance to experience and participate in one of our signature community project at the Child Development Center in Morawinna for the Thai Pongal session which was part of a community project “Light up their world” organized by the Rotaract Club of SLIIT, the initiative of lighting up their worlds by improving their English Language skills and soft skills. The children welcomed the international delegates warm heartedly with dashing smiles and open arms. After getting to know each other, they joined the children to draw Rangoli at the doorstep of their classes showing off the children’s talent in art. The delegates were humble enough to later on teach the children Indian Dancing techniques to be performed in front of the crowd. After that, the delegates taught the children Hindi with the very basic lessons such as learning how to say, “What’s your name?” and “How are you? At the end, the children showcase the talents of those kids where they all danced and sang songs with joy. Afterwards, the delegates joined the Rotaractors of SLIIT for a lunch and headed to a famous Buddhist temple situated in Colombo called “Ganagarama temple”. The delegates were mesmerized by the beauty and the cultural detail of the temples. After a small session of introducing the place, everyone headed to a supermarket to purchase the necessities for the night. Later that evening, the delegates invited us to their staying to participate in a cultural food exchange. Rotaractors of SLIIT busied themselves in preparing food, which is distinctive to Sri Lankans, that is “Mirris Malu” and “Egg/Plain Hoppers” while the delegates prepared a curry chicken which is unique to their cuisine, that is “Tandoori chicken” and “Butter Naan”. For dessert one of the delegates prepared “Smores” which ended dinner in a delightful way. after dinner everyone gathered around to joke around while taking pictures and playing catch inside the house. Everyone ended the night late and resting up for the day.

Day seven the delegates were ready to dive into the sweet, chilled waters and bury their feet in the sand at the Southern part of Sri Lanka as we took them to Galle, before stopping at several other locations such as; Tsunami Museum in Peraliya. The museum guide was kind enough to elaborate on the effect on Tsunami, the reason, the damage of the natural disaster and the future of it, also we were able to witness train which was crashed through this devastating disaster. After the visit to the museum everyone including the delegates were emotional and held a two-minute silence during the drive to our next location. Later we were able to hold on to baby turtles which was adorably fun for all and take pictures with them at the Turtle Sanctuary in Hikkaduwa. After arriving at the Galle Fort, Rtr. Asjad, fellow Rotarctor of SLIIT who is also a resident there showed us around the streets, starting from the Fort. The delegates also enjoyed the beautiful view looking out from the bay. After a stroll in the streets of Galle and purchasing goods for their loved ones back home, the delegates and everyone arrived at our next location which is Mirissa Coconut hills after a hefty lunch. At the hill everyone adored scenic views around, after some photographs being taken, the delegates participated in clearing the garbage, and cleanup the shore, which is being collected around the hill and pile them up to a nearby place for the collection from the Municipal Council. We arrived back to Colombo after a cool dip in the waters at the “Secret Beach” in Unawatuna.

Day eight, was filled with lot of activities and sightseeing around Colombo, and pettah was one of the main locations we visited. The delegates were given a chance to test their bargaining power at the Pettah shopkeepers but unfortunately most of the shops were closed due to Friday Jummah Prayers, which led them the chance of seeing the famous red Mosque during these prayers and the crowd which flows into it and they were shell shocked.

The first official Joint meeting of the Rotaract Clubs of SLIIT and Rotaract Club of SRM Kattankulathur in Sri Lanka was held at SLIIT Metro Campus, Kollupitiya with the Participation of our club IPP Rtr. Sethil Muhandiram. A briefing was done about the Rotaract District 3220 by our own Club President Rtr. Duleesha Waidyarathne. Afterwards, both the clubs presented the projects they have done so far and their future plans. Rotaractors of SRM Kattankulathur were amazed by seeing the innovative project ideas we had, and the number of projects done and congratulated with a loud round of applause. As agreed in the previous meeting, the Twin Club Agreement between Rotaract Club of SLIIT (District 3220) and Rotaract Club of SRM Kattankulathur (District 3232) was signed by the President of RAC SLIIT Rtr. Duleesha Waidyarathne and the President of RAC SRM Kattankulathur Rtr. Adrian Manivarma Vasu Veluppillai proclaiming the bond between the two clubs official. We planned to hold the closing ceremony today as most of us would not be able to participate due to RCL held during the next two days. After the commencement a video was shown including all the wonderful and funny memories of the past few days and at the end of the video there were smiles in everyone’s eyes knowing the fun, experiences and memories they will cherish for the days to come and little did we know that the delegates were prepared with a heart – melting feedback from their end about the stay in Sri Lanka. Even though that their stay was not over they were kind enough to express their sincere appreciation for the events, activities organized and associating during the course of 10 days at Sentier 2020.

Day Nine, the entire day was dedicated for shopping where the delegates were taken to infamous malls situated in Colombo. The shopping spree started at “Majestic City, and after a quick stroll everyone had lunch and decided to visit “Laksala” to purchase Gemstones in order to make jewelry back in India. The delegates were stunned to see the products available in the venue which details about the Sri Lankan culture, history, and people. Therefore, they ended up purchasing more than Gemstones. Afterwards we arrived at “Colombo City Center”, where everyone requested to purchase Bubble tea and shop around. After arriving at Odel and finally at Nolimit we had our dinner at Aluthkade with the delegates learnt to speak in Sinhala while SLIIT Rotaractors learnt how to speak in Hindi.

Unfortunately, every good things came for an end, but the memories and experiences we held on to during these few days were more than we can imagine. After cheering the fellow Rotaractors of SLIIT at RCL and meeting other clubs at the event at the end of the closing ceremony the delegates had to say goodbye with tears in their eyes. Our fellow Rotaractors dropped them at the airport and everyone gifted each other a tight hug to say goodbye. Also, Rotaractors of RAC SLIIT received token of appreciation prepared by the delegates own hands and it was amazing.  It was harder than we thought because even if they stayed for few days, we all were so close and have become one family. Every good thing has to come to an end, but this will not. Both the clubs will be working hard towards the betterment of communities while solidification the bond between the clubs. With that thought, everyone dismissed physically and got connected via social media to share their thoughts and hence concluded “Sentier 2020.”

Written by-
Rtr. Shandala Wasala

Director- International Services 2019/20

 

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