Jul 12 2016. view 973
Today on the Buzz I have someone who I have been friends with since I was a kid, we have sung together and it has been a friendship that has always grown! This smart young man is now making big waves from Australia in making a change in Sri Lanka, and he is currently in the country to promote the Australian Institute of International Affairs, which is a membership based, apolitical not for profit organisation promoting the interest in and understanding of international affairs throughout Australia. It was voted the top think tank in South East Asia and the Pacific for the second consecutive year in the 2015 annual Global Go To Think Tanks Index. They provide a forum for discussion and debate. they do this through lecture programs, seminars, workshops, conferences and study tours. They do not seek to formulate their own institutional views.
When I spoke to them about why Sri Lanka is following the Australian Government's effective engagement with the now, year and half old Sri Lankan government, particularly in this era of greater global positioning and development in a post conflict era, we decided to make Sri Lanka our destination for our Study Tour in 2016. The Study Tour is being led by Mr David Ritchie, former Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka The outcomes of the Study Tour while providing an enriching experience of Sri Lanka for the 20 member delegation (consisting of Australians from diverse backgrounds), would result in a publication of a report and an independent analysis of the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of Sri Lanka.
And Sean who is on my column today is championing this great mission. Here I speak a little more about his life and involvement.
Full Name - Sean Anthony Jesudason
Hometown - Dehiwala
Birthday - 10 July
Idols - I try not to idolize any particular person, but definitely a fair few great people that have been inspirational and a great influence in life.
Passions - People and culture, world affairs, travel, making a difference for the better.
How has life been in Australia for the past 11 years?
It has been epic, with its highs and lows – mostly missing my family and my wonderful friends here. From being an international student studying international relations and media communications at Deakin University, through to working in the tertiary education sector for 9 years, setting up pathways to higher education primarily for the disadvantaged and in rural and regional parts. This has been enriched by pursuing my passion for singing with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic choir. A testament to one of the fundamental qualities of this country of giving everyone ‘a fair go’, is that at my age and even when I was still on a bridging visa and subsequently a permanent resident, I was given the amazing opportunity of being the Vice-president and council member of the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria (AIIAV); (voted the top think tank in South East Asia and the Pacific) and that’s what has brought me back to my homeland this July.
The Study Tour in 2016, how has this worked out in the past? Why Sri Lanka?
Following the Australian Government's effective engagement with the now, year and half old Sri Lankan government, particularly in this era of greater global positioning and development in a post conflict era, we decided to make Sri Lanka our destination for our Study Tour in 2016. The Study Tour is being led by Mr David Ritchie, former Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. In past years we have had Study Tours to East Timor, Myanmar, China and Vietnam and have a potential tour to Iran in the making as well.
What have you planned to do, while you and your team are here?
We have had meetings with Hon Deputy Speaker and Secretary General of Parliament, Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute (our sister organization), Chairman of the Public representations committee for Constitution Reform. We are looking forward to visiting an Australian Aid project in Mulankavil, and getting a first-hand look at reconciliation and reconstruction efforts in the north; meeting Governor of the Northern Province, and UNHCR. This will also include meeting the Secretariat responsible for the coordination of the Reconciliation mechanism and religious leaders in Kandy. We hope to also consult several NGOs and independent policy actors along the way. Throughout all this we have weaved in the cultural and historic aspects of getting to know this wonderful island nation trekking through Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Kandy and even a safari in Wilpattu and Minneriya. While we were unable to include the South in our official part of our tour several members of our delegation have been through Galle and have had some great discussions with some great grass roots organisations there.
What will be the contribution?
The outcomes of the Study Tour while providing an enriching experience of Sri Lanka for the 20-member delegation (consisting of Australians from diverse backgrounds), would result in a publication of a report and an independent analysis of the social, political, economic and cultural story of Sri Lanka today. We hope it would encourage greater ties between our 2 countries in the think tank space and linking in with the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia and greater understanding of this wonderful nation in the Australian community as well.
What is your role in this?
My role is Deputy Leader of the Tour and coordinating this as a Council Member of the AIIAV and conceptualizing this was one small way I hope to give back to my motherland bringing these to wonderful nations together in this space of thought leadership and shared experience.
Which government bodies have partnered with this project?
Most of our arrangements have been facilitated via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the High Commissioner Mr. Skandakumar and Consul General in Melbourne Mr. Prasana. We have also had great support from Mr. Bryce Huchesson and the team at the Australian High Commission in Colombo.
How would you describe Sri Lanka in one sentence?
A nation of great promise, amidst the most intricate complexities and social dimensions, that if and when true harmony and justice are combined with effective and efficient economic development, will be an effective player in its own small way on the world stage.
Youth in Sri Lanka, your thoughts?
They are full of hope, with a zest for life and happiness. Although I think their might be a lack of motivation and empowerment for a large majority; that needs to be addressed, for they are the future and will be responsible for Sri Lanka in the not so distant future.