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ALSA-Harmonising Unity: The Youth’s Role in Strengthening Bonds

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

In life’s intricate fabric, where every strand holds a unique tale, the youth step forth as weavers of unity, seamlessly intertwining the diverse threads of our shared story. Amidst this rich mosaic of human connection, an inspiring example comes to light—the Sri Lankan Student Society at Auckland University (ALSA). Their efforts transcend geographical limits, illuminating a path toward a brighter future for our beloved Sri Lanka.

I had the honour of engaging with the leaders of this society: Dimithri Gallage, the Co-President, and Keerthiharan Prbaharan, the Sponsor and Finance Manager. Through our conversation, a narrative emerged, one that is steeped in heritage and born anew in the soil of New Zealand. Their presence is a testament to the unbroken continuity of Sri Lankan identity through generations.

Starting humbly in 2020 with just ten members, the Auckland Lankan Students Association has flourished into a vibrant community, embracing over 300 individuals from both Auckland University and the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Their purpose goes beyond ethnicity or religious affiliation; it embraces everyone and anyone with roots to Sri Lanka. Importantly, their commitment doesn’t fade after graduation; it extends to the digital realm, encompassing the Sri Lankan diaspora worldwide.

Their unity stands on two pillars. Firstly, they shine as a beacon amidst the diversity of international students, creating a space for themselves within the mosaic of identities. Secondly, they embody the spirit of Sri Lankan compassion, friendliness, and unity, forging a haven where no one feels isolated.

Keerthiharan shared their dedication to guiding fellow students transitioning to university life, offering a helping hand to those who arrive from local high schools. Their presence during orientation week conveys a message of support that disregards background, language, or faith divisions.

Their unity goes beyond the academic realm, resonating in celebrating shared traditions. Their Sri Lankan New Year festivities encompass various cultural events, like the Sinhala and Hindu New Year celebrations, the annual Sri Lanka vs. India students’ cricket games to Baila parties, fostering a sense of togetherness and rekindling connections to their homeland.

Like stars that grace our night skies, their unity forms a constellation of minds, harmoniously merging shared insights, abilities, and mutual understanding. This solidarity forms the framework of their collective journey, etching relationships that will span adulthood and beyond.

As guardians of time, we are responsible for nurturing this bridge of connection, fostering the bonds and affinities of our youth. Despite their “Kiwi” identity, a link remains connecting them to their ancestral heritage as Sirilankans.

Reflecting on my youth in Sri Lanka, I recall the harmonious coexistence of diverse classmates. We studied, played, and learned together, transcending divisions. It was an era defined by unity, embracing the richness of diversity.

However, history also reveals a darker chapter, marked by divisions driven by political agendas and external forces. Yet, hope persists as parents and kindred spirits work to mend these divisions and rebuild our homeland as it used to be.

In this context, the attitudes of the Sri Lankan Student Society at Auckland University shine as a beacon. They breathe life into unity and progress, offering a guide for young Sri Lankans worldwide. Parents should play a crucial role in nurturing this unity.

The SriLankaNZ paper, represented by its Advertising Coordinator, Daya Prathapasinghe, pledges unwavering support to this burgeoning unity, heralding the dawn of revitalization in Sri Lanka. As our youth disperse globally, their ideas and collaboration can usher in a new era for our nation. It is up to parents to cultivate an environment that nurtures their union.

In the realm of time, the youth emerge as weavers of destiny—their determination, unity, and commitment to heritage beckon towards a brighter future. Let us stand beside them together, ensuring that the threads that bind us as Sri Lankans remain strong and radiant across time and space.

At this illuminating confluence, the presence of the visionary behind the “SLNZ Helpline” underscores the broader canvas of collaboration. This symphony of unity extends beyond horizons, weaving a mosaic of shared aspirations. Like threads intertwining in the loom of time, these young minds are crafting a narrative that transcends borders and echoes through the ages. (I especially thank the Auckland Lankan Students Association for providing me with the photos of their office bearers)

By Dr. Kodisinghe Herath – Auckland

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