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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Sri Lanka Consul General in U.S. tours Southern Nevada To initiate public diplomacy campaign

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Las Vegas, Nevada. 15 December (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka's diplomatic representative for the eight Western states in the United States Consul General Jaliya Wickramasuriya, on his official visit to Las Vegas last Sunday December 09, would have undoubtedly felt that his entrusted task of public diplomacy for his South Asian nation has a conducive environment.

The reason: the steady movement of Sri Lankan expatriates toward a single focal point that manifests an unprecedented togetherness as if a Tsunami has swept through the Vegas Valley sweeping away the debris that generated a foul atmosphere for the body politic of the Sri Lankan fraternity. Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka Consul General for eight Western States in the U.S. involved in an erudite dialogue with Sri Lankans, all of whom were professionals in their chosen fields, at the working luncheon in Las Vegas.Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka Consul General for eight Western States in the U.S. involved in an erudite dialogue with Sri Lankans, all of whom were professionals in their chosen fields, at the working luncheon in Las Vegas.

"SRI", the Sri Lankan cultural extravaganza held on September 29 this year was the culmination of this fraternity and togetherness. It worked through the younger Sri Lankan generation, some of whom were born in the U.S., often involving very young siblings, toward an upward mobility to reach the elders to lay a solid foundation of Sri Lankan traditional solidarity which had impediments in recent times.

One prominent organizer of the "SRI" cultural presentation Sarath Banbarendage, once an active Cabinet Member of Lions International Sri Lanka Chapter, described the rallying point and the visible focus as "Sri Foundation." So be it if the new found fraternity of Sri Lankan expatiates of Southern Nevada wants it to be the catalyst for greater achievements the Sri Lankan diplomat Wickremasuriya envisages.

While several members of the Sri Lankan expatriate community, well known for their organizing prowess and public diplomacy capabilities, for more than a year patiently worked to bring this togetherness and fraternity, two of them prominently stand out among them: the erudite pedagogue Ivor Bulathsinhala and youthful vigorous Prasanna Austin Peiris. The "SRI" cultural extravaganza was their brainchild. Viran Gunawardene, Nimal Sedera, Mohamed Jalal, Lalinda Wickremaratne and Dr. Ranjan Hulugalle were some of those who met Consul General Jaliya Wickramasuriya at the working luncheonViran Gunawardene, Nimal Sedera, Mohamed Jalal, Lalinda Wickremaratne and Dr. Ranjan Hulugalle were some of those who met Consul General Jaliya Wickramasuriya at the working luncheon

Never in the history of the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Las Vegas valley that an attempt was made to harness the hidden cultural talents of the younger generation. The whole exercise created a domino effect where the elders and parents were significantly drawn to the entire process, building bridges among families that were not so close, creating a close rapport among those who only greeted the other with limited exchanges, and a significant change of attitude of members of the expatriate community toward each other building a better understanding as a result of one-on-one exchanges rather than depending on a third person's description of character of the other that came in electronic mail.

The Asian Tribune which had an up close observation of this upward mobility of the Sri Lankan expatriates in Southern Nevada presents this account as an example that Sri Lankan expatriate communities in other parts of the United States should emulate.

The Asian Tribune further observed the significantly changed scenario in the Southern Nevada Sri Lankan expatriate community which Consul General Jaliya Wickremasuriya undoubtedly recognized as a conducive atmosphere to make cogent presentations to policymakers in an endeavor to create a better understanding about the mostly misunderstood internal situation in Sri Lanka.
1.	Disna Perera was afforded the supreme recognition in her untiring and innovative effort in bringing out the talents and training the children for the cultural event. Consul General Wickramasuriya with her.1. Disna Perera was afforded the supreme recognition in her untiring and innovative effort in bringing out the talents and training the children for the cultural event. Consul General Wickramasuriya with her.
It is with this background that Asian Tribune reports the official visit of Sri Lanka Consul General Jaliya Wickremasuriya to Las Vegas on Sunday December 09 where he met a very large gathering of Sri Lankan expatriates in a single venue. He was undoubtedly impressed, the Asian Tribune sensed, that this would be the only rallying point any Sri Lankan or U.S. official will get to meet a sizeable Sri Lankan expatriates in Southern Nevada for a very long time.

Wickremasuriya, in his opening address at the presentation of 'Awards of Excellence' to those who participated in the September 29 SRI Cultural Extravaganza, noted with pride the expatriate community's effort to imbibe Sri Lankan cultural values in the younger generation through the cultural show. He recognized the participation of the elders and the parents to jointly make the SRI Cultural Show a success. He said had he not involved in President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Los Angeles during that time he would have definitely participated in the event.

The Organizing Committee of the "SRI" Cultural Extravaganza decided to hold this presentation of 'Awards of Excellence' to coincide the official visit of Consul General Wickremasuriya.

The very large gathering at the SRI Cultural Extravaganza, unprecedented in the history of any event organized by the expatriates in terms of participation and enthusiasm, was exited to see the video clip of President Rajapaksa felicitating the Las Vegas Sri Lankan expatriates for organizing an event of this nature. The president in his message wanted all Sri Lankan expatriates to become 'ambassadors of goodwill' to help Americans to understand the correct situation in Sri Lanka. In conveying this message to Sri Lankan expatriates domiciled in Southern Nevada Rajapaksa was well aware of the misconceptions and misunderstandings the West has about this South Asian nation, often succumbed to misinformation of the Tamil Tigers, which is combating a terrorist onslaught to safeguard her territorial integrity and sovereignty.2.	A section of the Sri Lankan children who participated in the ‘SRI’ Cultural Extravaganza patiently waiting until their names are called to receive the “Award of Excellence”.2. A section of the Sri Lankan children who participated in the ‘SRI’ Cultural Extravaganza patiently waiting until their names are called to receive the “Award of Excellence”.

Consul General of Sri Lanka brought this message to the expatriates during his December 09 official visit to Las Vegas.

Douglas Perera, one of the organizers of the "SRI" Cultural Extravaganza, is credited with bringing President Mahinda Rajapaksa's video clip which gave the message. The previous day, September 28, Perera had an audience with the Sri Lankan president in Los Angeles.

The award ceremony, presided over by the Consul General, was a pleasant surprise to many parents and their siblings. The "SRI" organizing committee had previously in a session decided to recognize each and every participant, especially the growing up children, who significantly contributed toward the great success of the cultural show which depicted comedy, drama, dance, musical presentations both vocal and instrumental and an ensemble of Sri Lankan indigenous drums that mesmerized the audience.

Wickremasuriya was impressed when he saw a short documentary of the "SRI" Cultural Extravaganza, screened at the award ceremony venue, which gave him a glimpse of the performances of the highly trained artistes.

A special award was given to Ms. Disna Perera in recognition of her time, energy, resources and expertise that contributed toward the training of dance, drama and musical performances of the children participated in the "SRI" event. It was Ms. Perera's untiring efforts that made the cultural event highly successful in discovering the hidden talents of the children and transforming them into highly talented artistes.

The Sri Lanka Consul General quipped that he could accommodate an item from group of Las Vegas child artistes at his consulate general sponsored Sri Lanka Independence Day celebration next February 04 in Los Angeles.

A three-hour highly informative exchange of views over a luncheon with fifteen Sri Lankan expatriates, most of whom are professionals in their own field and longtime residents of Southern Nevada, would have made Consul General Wickremasuriya's diplomatic endeavors much easier.

He echoed President Rajapaksa's message: the importance of being your own ambassador to present the truth about the internal situation in Sri Lanka in the wake of her struggle to defeat terrorism to the Western audience. Wickremasuriya emphasized this important public diplomacy endeavor to erase misconceptions and misinformation about his South Asian nation.

And, Sri Lanka Consul General was exposed to a group of erudite, knowledgeable and innovative Sri Lankan expatriates at this luncheon who are capable of developing a far reaching program with significant impact. The inputs these expatriates came up were most encouraging to the Consul General. The consensus was the importance of a unified single voice of Sri Lankan expatriates living throughout the United States to fulfill the public diplomacy efforts.

At least in Southern Nevada, Consul General Jaliya Wickremasuriya discovered the congregation of Sri Lankan expatriates in a single fold elevating themselves to a higher plane and pedestal devoid of pettiness and infantile disorder to make his public diplomacy endeavors very much easier.

- Asian Tribune -

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