Interview: Anudi Karunaratne

Interview: Anudi Karunaratne

A new Rotaract year is fast approaching, and there are several eager young faces waiting to join RotaractArts. For those that may not know you very well, could you please provide an introduction to yourself?

Hello! I’m Anudi Karunaratne, a 2nd-year (soon to be 3rd!) undergraduate studying for an English Honors degree. Now, for a detailed introduction about me, I would recommend reading my introductory article “The ‘Cyber’ Experience”, but hey, to save you some time, I’ll summarize it for y’all, because I’m nice that way (insert evil laugh!). I’m one of the most (I kid you not) annoying people you’ll meet if you met me on a bad day. On a good day however, I’m friendly and helpful (or at least I try to be!).

The Arts Faculty is brimming with diverse opportunities and avenues to further one’s skills. What made you pick the Rotaract Club from all the sea of clubs that are thrust upon the students of the faculty?

When I first came to the university, we had a world café where all the clubs of the faculty introduced themselves in order to attract new members. Rotaract appealed to me because Rasanjanee akki and Haadiyah akki who were introducing the club seemed like really fun people and they seemed to be so confident and passionate. I too wanted to join a club and build lasting friendships and memories while simultaneously developing myself further as a person. Personally, I believe that Rotaract is a place where that can be achieved. It’s the best place to pursue those ideas you are passionate about because that’s what Rotaract does. It gives you a platform to showcase your talents and give service to the community all the while developing yourself to be the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

During your time as a general member, was there ever any part of you that anticipated  taking up a role on the Top Board? 

While I didn’t think I’d get a position on the Top Board, I did, however, want to take up a role in the Board of Directors. I wanted to be a part of something amazing and memorable during my time at university. As always, we are keenly aware of the time passing around us and how these 3 or 4 years we’d spend at university will one day be nothing but wonderful memories. Thus, I encourage all of our current members to be active and create long lasting memories of your time here at the university!

As an unassuming first year, what was your reaction when the results pooled in, and it was announced that you would be the President for the Rotaract Year of 2021/22?

Shock! And I wasn’t the only one. There I was peacefully having an afternoon nap when I was rudely awakened by Dulari’s panicked calls. When I answered the phone, the first thing I heard was “DID YOU SEE IT!?!”. It was only then that I checked my phone and saw the news. A sudden new group on WhatsApp called “Another Group” (ingenious name, Methmini akki). She proceeded to exuberantly announce both me and Dulari as President and Secretary Elect for 20/21 and that we will be leading 21/22. We freaked out (naturally), went through a brief phase of “Nope, can’t do it” – until eventually, we accepted the results.

Despite not having had a lot of prior experience in roles of leadership, you definitely rose to the occasion when it mattered, what were the challenges you had to face over the year?

Aside from the usual stress and anxiety surrounding the initial days of accepting such a position, I do hope that Dulari and I managed to lead y’all well enough (here’s to hoping! Oh, and insert the Leonardo Dicaprio meme here!). In terms of challenges, they were usually either project related issues like the utter debacle in ordering all the necessary items for Athwal (I literally had a wall of rice sacks at my place for 2-3 days) or the whole logistical requirements that we needed to look into for our Installation. Every time such issues pop up, we (as in myself and Dulari) would just take a deep breath and utter our motto (which is “It is what it is” for those of y’all who didn’t know) and try to figure it out step by step. We also received help from our family and friends when we were stuck in projects and our Avenue Directors always helped out when possible. Oh! And I should say, common sense always ALWAYS prevails (like my mom likes to say!).

As a leader, what was your approach to your board members and club members? How did you keep them motivated? But most importantly, how did you rally them around the goals and objectives that you set out for the club?

That’s a tricky question. I usually try my best to motivate all our club members and board members in every meeting we have during the year. Sometimes I take the time to thank members for their efforts personally when they make the effort to physically attend one of our many community service projects. But I’ve noticed that the ones who are passionate and want to be here will remain while the others naturally fall away from active participation throughout the year. For me, I want the club to be a safe haven for anyone who joins in no matter their motives when joining the club. If they would like to join the projects, great! If they are here to write articles, that’s also nice! As I’ve always said, you’ll only know the true value of Rotaract if you have taken every opportunity we have offered and joined hands in conducting projects of ours because (and this is true for me as well) you’d be surprised by how much you learn and develop through those experiences. Rotaract is not just a club. The connections you make here will help you throughout your life and the experience also will only help you in your future.

It’s official! Rtr. Gethmi Adikari has been nominated as the incoming President-Elect of RotaractArts for the Rotaract year of 2022/23. What is your opinion on her appointment and the vision that she has set for RotaractArts? Is there any advice that you would like to convey to her?

I’m really proud of our President-Elect. and I see a lot of potential in her. Together with our Secretary-Elect, they could really bring the club to greater heights during their tenure. Speaking specifically about Rtr. Gethmi however, she is someone who regularly checks in with me about her plans and I’m really happy to have such an enthusiastic Elect. The club is in safe hands and we can rest easy (isn’t that right, Gethmi?). As for advice, I really can’t stress this enough, keep in mind that this is not just a club. Don’t be stressed just because I said that though (we’ll always be there for y’all. We’re just one call away). Keep in mind to “do what’s right and not what you think is right”. Basically, trust your common sense. I say so because it’s something that we tend to forget when we’re caught up with challenges or important decision making.

As it is a common trend here at the Editorial where we ask each President one particular question, we cannot spare you from it! Is there any advice or lessons that you would like to impart on the upcoming Rotaract Board?

First of all, Congratulations on your posts for term 2022/23. I hope all of you will do a much better job than we did. I know you can do better. We’ll always be here if y’all want to ask us anything. That aside, similar to what I had to say to Gethmi, becoming a part of Rotaract is a choice you made so honor it. We understand and your respective year’s President and Secretary are aware that there are other things in life and sometimes you’ll be busy. However, do be diligent and let them know so they can help you out during times of difficulty. Similarly, help Gethmi and Tharushika as well, because they, just like you, have other commitments too but can’t let go of their responsibilities despite how tough times may be. Lean on one another, help each other out and most of all, have fun!

To conclude, your tenure as the President is soon coming to a close. What are your thoughts on your board’s work during the year?

Personally, I couldn’t have wished for anything better! We did the best we could under the circumstances we found ourselves in. We still managed to stay together as a team for the whole duration of the year and best of all completed 35 projects, including 20 brand new initiatives during this year. The Editorial has also surpassed 120 publications thus far, a  first in Rotaract Arts! We are slowly stepping into an era of tri-lingual publications on our blog as well. I’m proud of what we, as a team, accomplished. If we could have improved one thing, that would be the number of physical meetings we could have had as a board (hehe).

RotaractArts has done a great many things during its 12-year lifespan. What are your hopes for the future of the club as you step down from the role of President in a few weeks’ time?

My one hope is that they will surpass us. I can already see glimpses of it in how they plan on improving the Blog (we’ve started publishing in Sinhala now. Let’s hope that continues, fingers crossed!), and the incoming Board’s enthusiasm in interacting with the newer members of our club. As your to be Immediate Past President, I’m so excited to see what lies ahead during Rtr. Gethmi’s tenure as President and what y’all will do!

– Interview conducted by Rtr. Vibhath Jayasinghe and Rtr. Janidu Wijebandara

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