The Oxford Sri Lanka Society celebrates 2nd Anniversary – keeps the Lion flag flying high at the University of Oxford
Posted on November 25th, 2009

Dilan Fernando DPhil Candidate in Biochemistry/Immunogenetics President, Oxford Sri Lanka Society, University of Oxford

The Oxford Sri Lanka Society, the official Sri Lankan student Society at the University of Oxford will celebrate its 2nd anniversary on the 26th of November. Founded by Dilan Fernando and Arosha Gunasekera, the Society has made tremendous strides in a short period much to the delight of the small Sri Lankan community in Oxford. Through the dedication and commitment of its members, the Society has blazed a trail and kept the Lion flag flying high at the University of Oxford.

 The Society has achieved many “firsts” within the University. Some of the high profile events organised to date include the following: 

  • The visit of H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to address the world-renowned Oxford Union in May 2008, barely 6 months after its founding. The event was a spectacular success and hailed by all and sundry. Subsequently, H.E. the President accepted the Society’s invitation and is now its Patron. With this, the Society joined an elite group of Oxford societies which can claim a Head of State as their Patron. The event also marked the beginning of a truly successful relationship with the Oxford Union.
  • Sri Lanka’s 61st Independence Day was celebrated in a grand manner in February 2009. The glittering array of distinguished guests included 7 Ambassadors from London, dignitaries from the University, Hon. Nirj Deva, MEP and the Lord Mayor of Oxford. For the first time in its 900-year history, a Special Service was held at the University of Oxford, to bless the country and the people in celebration of our Independence Day. This was followed by a Charity Tea (in aid of the Api Wenuwen Api fund) and the Main Ceremony, which showcased the rich diversity, magnificent beauty and cultural heritage of the country. 
  • Wesak Full Moon Poya day was also officially observed for the first time by the Society in May 2008. A Buddhist Sermon was organised under the patronage of the Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the London Buddhist Vihara. The sermon was well received and was held amidst a large gathering, comprising of both Sri Lankans and foreign guests, including Thai, Indian and Chinese Society delegations. 
  • An International Forum on Sri Lanka was jointly organised with the Oxford Union in its hallowed surroundings in June 2009. Themed “Post Conflict Reconstruction & Democratisation of Sri Lanka’s Former Conflict Regions,” it was held amidst a large gathering of Oxford Union members and Oxford University academics and hierarchy.  The Forum featured an eminent panel that were carefully selected to represent all the different stakeholders. It included Hon. (Dr.) Sarath Amunugama (Chief Guest – Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs), Hon. Nirj Deva MEP, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha (Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process ), Mrs. Rajeshwari Balasubramaniam (Journalist and Human Rights Activist, Mr. S. Thavaraja (former EDDP MP), and Mr. Seyed Bazeer (President, UK-SL Muslim League).This was the first time a panel of this nature has been assembled to address the Sri Lankan situation in a comprehensive manner. It offered an unparalleled opportunity to present a diverse range of views on the matter by the different stake-holders. 
  • The Sri Lankan National Cricket team was then honoured as the very first International sports team to be invited to the Oxford Union. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled at the 11th hour due to security fears.
  • Very recently, Arjuna Ranatunga, 1996 World Cup winning Captain, created history when he when addressed the Oxford Union in November 2009. He became the 1st Asian to do so in the 186-year history of the Oxford Union in what was another very successful collaboration. The event was graced by University dignitaries and members of the Diplomatic corps including H.E. Niall Wilkins (Special Representative of the South African High Commissioner), H.E. Justice Nihal Jayasinghe Sri Lankan High Commissioner) and Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford John Goddard.

 Mr. And Mrs. Ranatunga were first felicitated by the Oxford Sri Lanka Society at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Founded in 1263 AD, Balliol College is the 3rd oldest of the Oxford Colleges and boasts several British Prime ministers and numerous world leaders amongst its distinguished alumni. Incidentally, former Foreign Minister, the Late Lakshman Kadirgamar was an alumnus of Balliol.

 The Society also has a cricket team which plays in an informal league amongst various other society teams. A Sri Lankan team was fielded for the first time last year in the “Mini World Cup” “”…” a tournament featuring teams from all Test cricket playing nations. This has acted as a conduit to bring people together and the team boasts members from at least 5 nationalities!

 Through these high-profile events, the Society has established strong relationships with several Foreign missions in London and events are now regularly graced by members of the Diplomatic corp.

 We have further established strong links with other societies in the University, including the Indian, Pakistani, Thai and Chinese societies. Delegations from these societies are invited for our events and are also included in our cricket team.

 With a large number of distinguished guests attending events, security concerns are of paramount importance. In this regard, the Society is very grateful to Major V.B. Karunaratna (former Sergeant-at-Arms “”…” Sri Lanka Parliament) for his invaluable advice and assistance.

 The Society also expresses its gratitude to Mr. Janaka Alahapperuma (President, British Sri Lankan Forum) for his invaluable assistance. Mr. Thilak Abeywardena (Birmingham) also deserves special mention.

 The bedrock of our success is the fantastic team that has helped steer the Society from its humble beginning to these great heights. Through tireless efforts, the Society has managed to bring together Sri Lankans from all communities in Oxford, which is perhaps our greatest achievement.

 Several events are being planned for the near future. If you wish to receive information about these events or wish to collaborate, please contact us via the following e-mails: [email protected] (official e-mail), [email protected] or [email protected].

Committee of the Oxford Sri Lanka Society 2008/09:

Mr  Dilan Fernando - Co-Founder  President

Prof  Edman Tsang - Senior Member 

Prof. Edman Tsang (Senior Member) and Dilan Fernando (Co-Founder & President)

 Mr  Arvinda Atukorala - IT Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Arvinda Atukorala    (IT Officer)              

 Dr  Lasantha Malavige - Events OfficerMr  Rukshan Batuwita - Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Lasantha Malavige  (Events Officer) and  Mr. Rukshan Batuwita (Secretary)

Dr  Kremlin Wickramasinghe - Treasurer

Dr  Dinuka Kariyawasam - Events Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Kremlin Wickramasinghe (Treasurer) and    Dr. Dinuka Kariyawasam (Events Officer)

 Oliver Humphrys - Acting Treasurer

 Mrs  Shashika Subasinghe - Webmaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Oliver Humphrys (Acting Treasurer)   and  Mrs. Shashika Subasinghe  (Webmaster)

To be continued……

The Oxford Sri Lanka Society celebrates 2nd Anniversary “”…” keeps the Lion flag flying high at the University of Oxford Part II
Dilan Fernando DPhil Candidate in Biochemistry/Immunogenetics President, Oxford Sri Lanka Society, University of Oxford

 

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