by one of our most enthusiastic prospective members – Vibhath Jayasinghe; many thanks for your extremely detailed description of the afternoon!
As a student who had missed out on the phenomenon that was Interact during his school days, one could say that I headed into the orientation with high expectations. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have high hopes going into the meeting, because they genuinely were, and why wouldn’t they be? My peers had always spoken very highly of the organization, its incentives and its accomplishments. Considering all the buzz that surrounded both Interact and Rotaract, needless to say I was very excited to witness what the organization had to offer. And thus, I entered the gathering eager for what was in store, yet unsure as to how the presentation of the organization would unfold.
As soon as the students had settled down, the orientation opened with the President of the Club, Rasanjanee Polgampala addressing those in attendance, introducing herself and her place in the hierarchy of the organization’s office bearers. She then went on to give the crowd a brief summary of the history of Rotaract at the Arts Faculty of the University of Colombo after which the floor was then passed onto a student from the Science Faculty’s Rotaract club and Assistant Rotaract District Secretary Kithmee de Silva to enlighten the crowd on what Rotaract is, what it aims to do, what image it sets out to portray etc, all the while explaining the importance of the club’s ability to make an impact or change. I had always wondered what the limitation in scope was for the club, and I came in hoping that I’d get an answer to that very question, but during the course of this run down, the question of ‘what can we do?’ soon transformed into ‘what can’t we do?’ over the course of the briefing. Having gained knowledge that a platform was now available for voices to be heard and thus, being able to speak out and work on issues and address topics we would otherwise not have been able to do anything about individually was very refreshing and energizing.
We had been seated for quite a while by now, and so as a way to get everyone’s blood pumping, the seniors proposed that an ice breaker seemed like the perfect solution. Thereby a game was suggested: the attendees were broken into five teams and were given a simple task. Each team was given a casting spell from the lore of Harry Potter and was asked to act out said spell with the team in the guise of an advertisement for those watching it. However, it should be performed in such a way that the audience would be able to guess what exactly it is that the spell does. It seemed like a simple task on the surface and honestly, how hard could it be, right? The reality however came as a surprise because it proved to be a bit difficult to put two and two together in this situation. While all five teams delivered a well-rounded performance in the end, upon looking back at it from a more critical lens, it was obvious that for said activity to work, a few things needed to have clicked together. Get to know the team, listen to what everyone has to say, respect each other’s ideas and select the best one unanimously and expand upon the selected idea with more creative suggestions until you have a solid act in hand to perform. The fact that every group came up with something special within the given time limit, without having known their teammates prior to the grouping, to my mind was a testament to the students’ ability to come together and create something magical. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but when recollecting and attempting to piece together how exactly it came to be, it’s amazing that it worked out at all.
Following the ice breaker, we were once again back in our seats where we were then introduced to the club’s composition. They chose a very creative way to come around to that however, as they started off by inquiring about our dreams, our goals, and what we wanted to achieve in life – a discussion that seemed completely unrelated to the world of Rotaract, on the surface level at least. As each student voiced out their answers, the seniors wrote each of them down on a white board, carefully grouping them into four columns. As soon as all the answers were presented and written down, the President went on to state that each and every goal and aspiration that we had, would fall under four categories, and that those categories can be influenced by the means of Rotaract. And thus, the carefully placed four major avenues were then introduced to us as, ‘Club Service’, ‘Community Services’, ‘Professional Development’ and ‘International Services’.
Right after the introduction to the main four branching avenues of the organization, we were then introduced to the directors in charge of each division. Tharushi Jayathillake headed ‘Club Service’, Rasudula Dissanayake handled ‘Community Services’, Chethana Gunaratne looked over ‘Professional Development’ while Sandunlekha Ekanayake was in charge of ‘International Services’. Soon after these formal introductions, the President turned her attention to briefly describe two other relatively smaller, however major components of the club, namely the Editorial and the Public Relations division. The secretary, Haadiyah Marikar, unfortunately wasn’t able to join us as she had represented the Rotaract Club of The Faculty of Arts at the ‘Youth National Dialogue’ at BMICH that evening. Although absent, her role and importance to the organization was made very clear by the President to the new members. Towards the end of the briefing, just before we called it a day, we were introduced to the upcoming President of the year 2020/2021, Methmini Kariyakarawana, who briefly greeted those in attendance.
Thereafter, following an hour and a half after it’s commencement, the meeting wrapped up and gave all the new members a chance to speak to the directors in charge of the avenues of their liking for us to get a better idea in choosing what we would invest ourselves in once we’re fully acquainted with the organization. I was impressed by the sheer scale and scope of what the organization is and what it is able to achieve sure, but what I was also pleasantly surprised and ultimately blown away by was the amount of dedication, passion and most importantly the faith that the office bearers and the existing members placed in the organization. It’s absolutely touching to see a group of students being so passionate to use the platform for the greater good so selflessly.
All in all, the meeting concluded as a well-rounded introduction to the world of Rotaract, the Faculty of Arts’ place in it and our duty now, as members to assist in the growth and persistence of the organization. I am both curious and thrilled to see where this new journey takes me.