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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2523

Sri Lankan Community Leaders Selected For Innovative U.S. Exchange Program

Colombo, 25 March, ( Seventeen Sri Lankan community leaders from fields including community development, education, journalism, and business, will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in a three-week program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that will focus on reducing marginalization, resolving conflict, and promoting democratic engagement in Sri Lankan civil society.

The program, conducted by Relief International – Schools Online (RI-SOL), in collaboration with the Business for Peace Alliance (BPA), will bring together young professionals from Sri Lanka and the United States to share experiences and improve leadership skills in order to become more effective community leaders. Ambassador Blake sends off participants in the Young Professionals Exchange Program.Ambassador Blake sends off participants in the Young Professionals Exchange Program.

At a reception hosted in honor of the selected participants, U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake told the group, "As some of the top youth leaders in Sri Lanka, you prove that young people are already making enormous contributions to Sri Lanka. You prove that Sri Lanka’s youth don’t have to wait until the future to make a difference in the country, you are doing so already."

The seventeen Sri Lankan participants will attend pre-exchange workshops in Colombo and will engage in post-exchange activities, during which they will share their knowledge with their fellow community members. While in the United States, participants will begin designing projects on issues the participants find important for their communities in Sri Lanka.

"Youth leaders hold the key to the future of Sri Lanka. The US Exchange program provides a unique opportunity for young leaders of various ethnic, social and professional backgrounds hailing from the regions in Sri Lanka to gain insight into the lives of their counterparts in USA," says Manique Mendis, Secretary General of Business for Peace Alliance.

"The participants also have rich experience to share with the young community leaders they will meet in the US. Once the participants return to Sri Lanka, BPA will support them to share the experience they gain with wider groups in their community."

"Our country is really in need of greater Humanitarian Service. It is the responsibility of the youth to dedicate themselves to the voiceless people and empower them to contribute and work towards a peaceful Sri Lanka," says exchange participant R.E.S. Croos. I hope this program will empower us and give us the opportunity to learn from a another culture. I also feel that it is a good platform for us to share our individual experiences, challenges and achievements with each other.”

Following the US visit, American participants will travel to Sri Lanka for a three-week program to learn more about Sri Lanka and to work with their Sri Lankan counterparts to design and implement the community projects. American participants will then share their knowledge and experiences of Sri Lankan community activism with their organizations and fellow community members in the US.

- Asian Tribune -

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