Category Archives: education

Encountering Prejudice in Lanka as a Person of Mixed Descent

Krystle Reid, from Groundviews, http://groundviews.org/author/krystle-reid/  where the title is “A Welcoming Nation”

The following is a list of things I’m often asked or told, revealing of Sri Lankan perceptions about the Burgher community.

  1. Are you Sri Lankan?
  2. Can you speak in Sinhalese?
  3. ‘You’re a Burgher? You sure don’t look like one’
  4. ‘Sounds like a Las Vegas stripper name’
  5. ‘They get drunk every Saturday and go to church the next day, no shame’
  6. ‘Burghers? Parents must be divorced then.’
  7. ‘Lansi no? Probably got the job because of her English and the mini skirt’
  8. ‘Burgher…. like a hamburger?’

I could continue but the real point I was trying to make is that 70 years after independence, our ethnicity is still misunderstood. Continue reading

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Individual Subjectivity in the Appraisal of 70 Years of Independence: Explorations in Groundviews

What does it mean to be Sri Lankan?

70 years after independence, our identity is defined mostly along majoritarian lines, which can be traced back to the divisions created under British rule. These divisions have contributed to violence and war, in the years since 1948.

To this day, there are communities who feel that what is commonly projected and defined as the Sri Lankan identity does not reflect their reality, or themselves. Looking at this, Groundviews produced a series of videos exploring identity and belonging in a country emerging from war, but not yet out of conflict.

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Different Worlds: Upali Mahaliyana’s Novel

Upali Mahaliyana’s Introductory Note

This is NOT my autobiography.  Although Ajith, the main Character in this novel, shares the times and a part of his background with me, he is a completely different person who had a very different character and a life to mine.  His family has absolutely no resemblance to mine.

This is NOT a biographical novel either.  Although Ajith binds the story together, it is not just his story.

Instead, it is a story of changing lifestyles, values and attitudes of Sri Lankan society over different times and different environments, demonstrated through five generations of the same family.  It covers an era from the early part of the twentieth century to the present times and a geographical area from a rural village in Sri Lanka, through a provincial city and the capital city into the Sri Lankan diaspora in the world.

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D H Lawrence in Kandy 1922

Jane Russell

D H Lawrence came to Ceylon with his wife Frieda in late February 1922. Lawrence once referred to the later years of his life, spent wandering from place to place across the world in search of relief from illness, as his “savage pilgrimage”.  Interestingly, the Lawrences arrived just a couple of years after Hilda Westbrook (soon to be Kularatne) first passed through the Colombo Harbour steamboat passenger terminal.

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Dance, Song, Word and Dress: Melburnian Lankans Celebrate 70th YEAR of Independence

Tony Donaldson, whose preferred title is “A Time of Celebration and Reflection. Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day in Melbourne”

Many Sri Lankans have made the journey to Australia and now call it home and Melbourne continues to be a popular destination with the number of Sri Lankans living in this multicultural city estimated to be approximately 35,000. It is a diverse community and so it was pleasing to see that the emphasis of Sri Lanka’s 70th National Independence Day celebrations held on 4 February 2018 in the Kingston City Hall, Moorabbin, was placed on recognizing the plurality of Sri Lanka as a nation of many ethnic and religious groups. Organized by the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne, the celebrations were like a gift of treasures but it was also a time to reflect on the postcolonial history of Sri Lanka and its future.

Kandyan dance performed by the Sri Lankan Cultural Ensemble of Australia

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The Disappearing Wetlands of Colombo

Jordana Narin  in Daily News, 2 February  2018, with title as “Colombo’s Wetlands at Risk”

There is a breeze in Diyasuru Park that feels distinctly un-Colombo. The air is more lush, the birds more diverse, the grass more green. The park, located near the Parliament building in Thalawathugoda, is 18 hectares of urban wetland. And it’s one of the few the city has left.

Colombo is drying up—literally. Since the 1980s, the city has lost almost 60 percent of its wetland area. Today, on World Wetlands Day, it’s more crucial than ever to consider why all of this matters—and why the fight to save Colombo’s remaining wetlands is one that should involve each and every one of us.

The Jakana bird lives on floating vegetation in wetlands such as water lilies. Picture by Sanjiv De Silva, IWMI.
The Jakana bird lives on floating vegetation in wetlands such as water lilies. Picture by Sanjiv De Silva, IWMI.

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Overcoming Hate: A Lesson for Tamils and Sinhalese from a Holocaust Survivor

Zygmunt Swisrak

I had so much hate towards the Germans. That hate was killing me. I realised this later when I went to Germany. Three times I have been there. They wanted me to lecture at university, at ­technical colleges, about what I suffered in the ­concentration camp in Frankfurt. I just went there to tell them what happened. And I met so many Germans; it started to change me. After I finished one talk, a student wrapped herself around me. She had tears in her eyes and said, “I am sorry for what our fathers and grandfathers have done to you, your family, and your country.” Then I started to get emails from students saying that my survival was not wasted and that to hear from somebody who was there, as an inmate in their country, was a ­different story. That’s how I got rid of the hate. I didn’t expect that. I have changed a lot. I can’t get rid of the hate altogether but it’s much less than I had and it doesn’t kill me anymore.” …. An Extract from Zygmunt Swisrak’s Last Testament

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