Interview: Githmi Koralage

Interview: Githmi Koralage

The role of the Assistant Secretary is an important, and at times, a rather stressful one. Ensuring the smooth operation of the avenues and the club’s clerical work is no piece of cake, yet you have managed to accomplish the task with great finesse. Before we venture into the particulars of the year you’ve spent in the Executive Committee, let’s begin with a brief introduction of yourself.

Hi! I’m Githmi Koralage and I’m the Assistant Secretary of the club for the Rotaract Year 2021/22. I’m specializing in International Relations and currently, I have just finished my second year and am awaiting my results.

I think a lot of people know me as the quiet, very calm girl. But the ones who really know me, know me as the K Pop maniac, Potterhead and a lover of singing, dancing and Karate!

Your post meant that you would be paired to the Secretary of the club for the rest of the Rotaract year, assisting in her endeavors and making doubly sure that the processes within the club went smoothly. What was that experience like? 

I would like to describe it as a learning and a bonding experience.

Ever since I got into university, I have had the fortune of being exposed to quite a lot of experiences where I got to learn many new things and being the Assistant Secretary was definitely one of them. I learned to work under pressure, work with a team who has different personalities, likes and dislikes from me, how to manage time effectively and most importantly how to ensure a club functions properly. I understand the importance of the things I learnt in my Rotaract journey more than ever right now. Being a member of our Executive Committee of the Charter Board of a club truly helped with that. All of those things I learnt are helped me function properly and find my purpose in the club .

Then there was a time, I think it was around the first month of our Rotaract year, I was not really sure about what my responsibilities were but Rtr. Dulari, our club Secretary, helped me a lot in figuring out and clearing most of my doubts. Dulari is a good friend of mine and I am really glad I got to work alongside her. I learned a lot from how she managed her workload and by working with each and every Board member and the general members of the club. I was able to make new friends and become even closer with the friends I already knew prior to Rotaract. So, that’s why I think of it as a bonding experience as well.

But I would be lying if I said that all of the work I got was easy to handle. There were points where I was on the verge of giving up but seeing how hard those around me worked and the contribution we were giving to make the society a better place, it inspired me to keep working hard and keep moving forward.

Did you ever find the responsibilities of the club seeping into your academic responsibilities? If it did, how did you manage to work around the dilemma?

Well, the people who have known me since my school days know that I was very focused on my academics when I was in school. I was someone who never missed a class. And I was able to do the same during my first year of university. But after I became the Assistant Secretary, there were times where I missed lectures and didn’t have time to study and as a result, got scolded by my parents as well as my friends! So, yes, sometimes the responsibilities I had as the Assistant Secretary did affect my academics to an extent but never in a way that hindered my overall academic performance. And I think that was mainly because of the rest of the board members, especially our Secretary and the President. They did their part the best they could and when I was having difficult times, Dulari would always say “I’ll handle it till you make it” which was really reassuring. Then there were my other friends, outside of Rotaract, who also helped me to keep up with my academics. So, the responsibilities I had to fulfill in Rotaract did not affect me to the point where it adversely impacted my academic progress .

Were there any significant qualities you have acquired, or developed during your time as the Assistant Secretary?

As I said before, being the Assistant Secretary was a learning experience for me. So, naturally I was able to develop a new set of skills, especially soft skills. I’m an introvert and it is hard for me to work in a team and work with people. But because of the nature of my post and being a member of the Rotaract Club I was exposed to so many opportunities which allowed me to work with various types of people. This really helped me to learn how to work in a team and with people who are very different from me. Then there were occasions where I had to moderate and that helped me to get rid of my fear of speaking in front of people and helped me to develop my public speaking skills. As the Assistant Secretary, I also had to work with club related documents and that developed my writing skills. So, yes, I was able to develop and acquire skills because of my post as well as just being a Rotaractor.

What would you say is the most challenging part of being tasked with a workload as massive as it is? How do you prepare yourself to tackle them in a sequential and productive manner?

The workload itself was a huge challenge to deal with. I think finishing a month’s work before their respective deadlines was the most challenging task as I had to deal with academic responsibilities alongside my other extra-curricular activity Karate which required hours of practice. And honestly speaking, I didn’t come up with any specific plan in order to deal with them in a productive manner. I still don’t actually have one. I just list down what needs to be done at the beginning of a day and finish off everything starting off from the task that I think needs to be done first. And I never hesitated to ask help whenever I felt like I needed it and that helped me to finish my work on time. Working during exam season was also very difficult as we couldn’t burden anyone in the club by giving or delegating them with a huge workload. So, Rtr. Dulari and I divided some of the work between us and that also helped me a lot in completing the tasks I had to do. I’m really thankful and grateful for Dulari for helping me out during every challenge I faced in my Rotaract journey. I think I was able to fulfill my responsibilities without giving up thanks to her, the Board for the Rotaract year 2021/2022 and the influence I got from our Immediate Past President Rtr. Methmini Kariyakarawana.

What is your impression of the newly elected Co-Vice Secretaries for the upcoming year, Rtr. Udani Jayalath and Rtr. Heshani Dharmapala? Is there anything that you’d like to convey to the both of them before they pick up the mantle in a few short weeks?

First of all, I would like to congratulate both of them. I have not gotten a chance to work with either of them yet, but being a member of the club, I have seen how hard they worked throughout the year. So, I truly think they deserve their positions. The first time I saw Rtr. Udani was on the Installation Day. I vividly remember how she approached me and excitedly exclaimed “Akki! You are so small!”, which brings a smile to my face even now. She chaired our Installation and did a great job. Rtr. Heshani’s personality is somewhat different when compared to Udani. She seems to be a very reserved person. Although I haven’t seen her performance in person or virtually, I am confident that she’ll do a fantastic job. It’s a very interesting combination and I’m eagerly waiting to see their working dynamic!

If I’m to give some tips as to how to manage the workload and how to do a great job with the position, first of all I would like to say be honest with each other. The workload that comes with this position as well as the workload you have as an undergraduate of the university can be a bit hard to deal with alone. You have to rely on each other a lot. So, it would make things easier, if you open up when you are having a hard time. This is because it will make dealing with your responsibilities a lot less hectic. If you come across situations that are out of your comfort zone, look at them as learning opportunities and face them without hesitation. Lastly, maybe this is a given, but enjoy your work. Think of the contribution you are making to make the society a better place whenever you work. I think these tips would help to fulfill your responsibilities well. I would like to wish them good luck and I’m sure they are going to do amazing things.

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

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