It was nearly after three weeks of waiting that our delegates from Pune, India were to arrive in Sri Lanka on the 16th of October, for the Inter-District Youth Exchange Program (IDYEP). This was a joint project organized by the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School and 13 other Rotaract Clubs.
The responsibilities to entertain the guests throughout their five-day stay were divided among all host clubs. Arrangements were made to pick them up from the airport and welcome them to the country. However, the members of the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School were to meet our guests for the first time on the 17th, for a joint meeting followed by dinner.
It was a Thursday evening, a usual meeting day for the Rotaractors at Achievers, although the crowd and the excitement were much bigger. Over a hundred members from the host clubs, as well as a few members from the district, were present for the meeting. The Rotaract Club of the University of Peradeniya, although not being present physically, did not forget to join us through Skype.
Our five guests from Pune arrived soon after, and the Rotaract District Representative Rtr. Krishan Balaji warmly welcomed them on behalf of the clubs. A formal meeting was conducted followed by the usual proceedings. The audience was briefed on the upcoming projects of the host clubs, by their respective presidents. Rtr. Krishan Balaji also addressed the gathering and appreciated the presence of our guests. He emphasized on the importance and value of such projects, in building better friendships and cultural understanding across borders, and thanked the host clubs. One of the guests also spoke on behalf of the others and thanked the clubs for having them. She mentioned that they had a lovely stay in Sri Lanka so far and that it was a beautiful country with very hospitable people. The meeting was adjourned with that at about 7.30 PM, for fellowship.
However that was not the end of the evening, or rather, it was just the beginning. There were quite a few ice breakers planned before the crowed could set out to dinner. The Rotaract Club of Colombo Mid Town was ready with a quiz for the audience, which boosted the spirit in everybody. The members of all clubs and the guests were divided into teams so that they could mix with new people, and the quiz was conducted. The members participated enthusiastically (and maybe a little competitively) and it was made to be a very fun-filled evening.
This was followed by an open mic session organized by the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School. This was unsurprisingly featured by Rtr. Thisura, our very own Secretary. Due to time constraints, we had to keep it short to a few minutes. Nevertheless, Thisura never fails to entertain a crowd when a mic is given to his hand!
The night was getting darker and the crowd was getting hungrier, but everyone was still busy. The Presidents were exchanging Letter Heads with the foreign clubs, and the members were busy grabbing photographs and having their last-minute catch up with our guests who were to leave for Kandy the next morning. Finally, after a long session of mingling, the crowd made up their minds to set out to dinner.
The dinner was organized by the Rotaract clubs of Achievers Lanka Business School and Colombo Uptown and was held at Dutch Burgher Union, which was within walking distance from Achievers. Members from the two organizing clubs and few others joined, and everybody enjoyed a delicious Sri Lankan cuisine together. After another hour or so of more chatting and photographs, we had to put an end to the night.
We had to say our good-byes to our friends, as they were not returning back to Colombo. It was indeed a difficult good-bye, as they had touched our hearts deeply during their short stay. However, we could not be more grateful for their visit, the little things learned, memories created, and friendships enhanced!
Rtr. Kalani Siriwardena