Interview: Dulari Bookoladeniya

Interview: Dulari Bookoladeniya

The start of a new Rotaract year looms large! And with it, fresh faces will no doubt soon flood the club in a couple weeks. Could you please provide an introduction of yourself for anyone that may not be well acquainted with you? 

My name is Dulari Bookoladeniya and I am the Secretary of the Rotaract Club of University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts for the Rotaract Year 2021/2022. In addition to being an Arts undergraduate with English as my main subject, I am also pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Counseling. 

I would say that I have a fruit salad-like taste when it comes to things such as music, movies and TV series. I am obviously not a people person, but would definitely pet a crocodile if it didn’t bite! So much so, that Madam President was actually considering getting me a t-shirt that read don’t talk to me, talk to Anudi!”. A lot of people find me intimidating and not approachable. But then there’s another set of people who bite the bullet and live to tell the tale. So I guess I’m a mix of ‘too nice’ and ‘approach with caution’ ( Yes, I am weird and proudly wear it like a badge!). 

While our President Anudi Karunaratne is the public face of the club in many ways, there’s a lot that happens under the hood. From scheduling events to meeting deadlines, it’s a strong tide of duties, deadlines and responsibilities on which you captain the ship. Thus, how do you go about sequencing your daily commitments tied to Rotaract?

At the beginning of the year, I found it very difficult because I was someone who wanted to finish work assigned to me well ahead of time, but Anudi was someone who worked really well under pressure. I think the more coordinated we got, the easier it was for us to meet our deadlines. We divided the work among us, so even if it seemed as if I was handling a task by myself, Anudi was always a part of the decision-making process. As for reporting, all the directors are going to hate me for this, but the only time I communicated the actual deadlines was for year-end reporting. Also, I have to say that I had an amazing Assistant Secretary: Githmi who was equally clueless as I was in some situations, which actually made it more fun! 

Work tends to get pretty hectic in the life of a secretary, we are told! How do you manage to strike a balance between your responsibilities tethered to the post of Secretary at RotaractArts while simultaneously concentrating on your academic duties?

If I am being honest, I do not think it was humanly possible for me to strike a balance! Be it Rotaract, assignments or even exams, there was always one aspect that I would prioritize over another and most of the time it was Rotaract. The reason why I always made it a priority was because, in my perspective, I do not represent myself, I represent the Rotaract Club of University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts. Therefore, it is important that I complete my duties because I took up that responsibility when I had the choice of turning it down. That doesn’t mean I completely gave up on my academics. I still managed to maintain my grades to my expectations.

In many ways, secretaries often don’t get enough credit for the amount of work they undertake, but all of us know that you were in many ways the backbone of the club. What are you the proudest from the club’s accomplishments this year that you helped achieve?

Well, first off, I enjoy the fact that I am invisible. Don’t jinx it for me! Secondly, I think it’s probably the 12th Installation. Normally, the directors work towards their individual goals set within the avenues, so it was definitely nice to see everyone equally panicking for a common cause. Moreover, I was initially planning on running out of the NAT out of sheer panic, but I managed to stay and do the vote of thanks. So, I consider it as one of my greatest accomplishments. 

Above all else, we have seen time and time again that you seem to have a strong belief in ensuring the maintenance of good relations and peace within the club. A duty that some may argue and say that it doesn’t necessarily fall under the already long list of responsibilities of a secretary. Why do you consider this duty, one which you exert so much energy to attain, so important?

It’s funny how you literally said why did you make sure the club was not set on fire?” in the most polite way possible! I was not the most patient person when we started the year. I clearly remember that I was really thoroughly annoyed at a certain party and I was complaining to our Immediate Past President Rtr. Methimini Kariyakarawana about how badly I wanted to scold them. That day, she gave one of the best pieces of advice I ever got in my life. She said, and I quote, “Rotaract is for a year but friends are for life.” It automatically became my personal slogan for the year. In all honesty, “you can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighborhood”. In any club, the member base is very diverse. Rotaract is a volunteer driven organization and the majority of its members join out of passion. I guess it’s important to understand that everyone has their own priorities, boundaries and struggles. 

We posed this question to our President, Rtr. Anudi Karunaratne, as well. However, we want to ask this from you too. What are your hopes for the future of the club as you step down from the role of Secretary in a few weeks time?

Not every year is the same, but I really hope I’ll get to see a bunch of familiar faces running around with the club banner saying “we have a project and it’s a mess!”. I know Rtr. Gethmi and her team will do an amazing job. The coming year will be definitely challenging, but I know for a fact that these kids will do just fine. Always remember that accepting the positions you hold was a choice you made, so it is very important that you do justice to it. Work hard so even if everything does not go according to plan, no one can point a finger at you.  When Anudi asked me about my plans after stepping down, I literally said that I would walk away saying ‘not my monkeys; not my circus.’ But deep down, I know that I’ll always be one call away if they need any help.

Your successor has been nominated! And it is none-other than our very own Rtr. Tharushika Peelikumbura. What are your thoughts on her appointment? Is there any advice that you would like to bestow on her before she takes up the mantle of Secretary?

That child is a walking talent! She’s definitely going to do better than I ever could (I hope she does or else I’ll probably haunt her!). On a serious note however, being the Secretary is not going to be easy. It’s almost the end of our year and there are still things that I learn as I go. You’ll make a lot of mistakes and that’s completely fine. Learn from those mistakes and assert yourself. You don’t need to be perfect. If you are happy with how it went, that’s all that matters. Always be humble and if you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it. Piece of advice: don’t do anything I would do and definitely don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! 

Good Luck! I believe in you. I always did and always will do.  

Before we wrap things up, we need to ask. Is there anything that you would like to convey to the upcoming board and the new faces that will soon become RotaractArts’ general members?

Look at Rotaract as a walk in the park. Some days it might be a bit rainy. Some days the scorching sun will make it really unpleasant. Some days the wind will try to blow you off of your path. But then there are other days where you feel like you are having the best day of your life. When that happens, just click a selfie and enjoy the moment. While you are at it, don’t forget to grab onto the opportunities that come on your way! 

I wish the board for the year 2022-23 a fantastic year ahead. Best of luck in achieving your future endeavors!

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

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