Interview: Sandali Rupasinghe & Samadhi Randeni

Interview: Sandali Rupasinghe & Samadhi Randeni

We have sped past an eventful Rotaract year, filled to the brim with exciting projects and initiatives from all avenues. And to our talented vice-presidents who have diligently tended to the avenues and coordinated the procedure, the past year was quite a handful, but your work outside the community eye shall not be forgotten. How about we start off with a brief introduction of yourselves for anyone outside the usual Rotaract circle?

Sandali: Hi! I am Sandali Rupasinghe, an undergraduate of the University of Colombo reading for a Honours in Demography. I’ve always loved being a part of something that strives to achieve great motives and I am especially interested in community service. This was one of the prime reasons as to why I wanted to join our Rotaract club and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made during my university life. 

Samadhi: I’m Samadhi Randeni, an undergraduate at the University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts. I’m interested in art and craft, watching movies and listening to music as well as being a huge dog person. I can introduce myself as an ambivert individual because on most occasions I absolutely enjoy meeting novel people and building connections, but sometimes when my social battery runs out, I prefer staying alone.

I’m NOT good at remembering the names of people and locations in real life or in films, however, I am comparatively superb at recollecting actual faces and places. That being said, as a huge movie lover, I used to host storytelling sessions for my friends when I was schooling and since I could not recall the names of the characters, I explained the plots of the movies by inventing new names. Based on the feedback, I can assure you guys that they wholly enjoyed it and I truly believe that I still have that talent (wee, at least I consider it a talent!) within me even though I have not tried it in several years.

If I’m to mention another strength of mine; I’m capable of getting work done at the last minute when necessary. On the other hand, I tend to overthink and panic a lot. I’m fully aware that there are some contradicting characteristics in me, but guess what? It has worked so well so far. Please, don’t jinx it! If it starts going sideways for me after this is published, the blame is on whoever reads this! On a positive note, I’m a strong believer in living life with the resources I have and the chances I get, in a way I would not regret.

The previous year had a different structural make up when it came to the position of Vice-President – where the post was held by one person. The new Rotaract year brought with it a significant change where two people presided over the post’s responsibilities. How did this change affect the two of you? And what were the unique challenges you had to navigate as two EXCO members sharing a singular position?

Sandali: I believe the structural change was a really good one. It reduced the overall challenges the club would have faced and it also made the club’s avenues run smoothly as the work was always divided equally between myself and my Co-Vice President Rtr. Samadhi. 

Samadhi: I have noticed that Rotaract Arts has grown in many areas along the way and its membership count is one of those main sections. The probability is high for an escalation of the workload with the increase of club members. Therefore, I genuinely believe that this change of introducing two Vice-Presidents for the club is a positive move. It now allows two office-bearers to help out the Executive committee, the Board of Directors and the club as a whole in their own way while distributing the responsibilities among each other and sharing a common goal at the same time as a part of the EXCO.

To be honest, it was not challenging at all for me to share a singular position with my Co-Vice President Rtr. Sandali. Communication played a huge role when working together, and I was able to enhance my ideas and look at certain issues from a different perspective with the input of another person. At the end of the day, I hope that we both were able to bring a different kind of support to the table as two individuals who shared the same stage. It was indeed a great learning chance for me and I truly enjoyed every minute of it.  

Stepping into this post, both of you must have had a predetermined design in navigating the role of the Vice-President. What were the changes you made this year that differentiated your tenure from the previous one?

Sandali: At the very beginning, the club’s avenues were divided between Samadhi and me. I was in charge of the Community Service and Professional Development avenues. I guess this actually helped Rtr. Anudi – our President and Rtr. Dulari – our Secretary to keep track of all the projects as one of my duties as a Co-Vice President was to assist the President in running the club in an efficient manner. 

Samadhi: First of all, it is necessary to mention that the actions executed by the previous leaders of Rotaract Arts have their own good and have benefited the club in numerous ways.

Moving on to my year, as a notable change, the Co-Vice Presidents principally chose two avenues each, to help out and look into. This actually permitted me to focus on what needed to be done more enthusiastically. I was also able to directly engage in organizing and coordinating projects throughout the year, and it was indeed an interesting change. 

A year of creative community engagement must have inspired some memorable moments for the both of you. Care to share some of these anecdotes with the rest of us?

Sandali: There are two memorable moments that I think I will cherish forever. One is our Installation, it was truly magical and that was the very first time we actually got to work together physically as a team. The other was one of the district projects that I was the coordinator of, Project ‘Dividara’ of  the TogetherSL initiative. Rotaractors from 12 different clubs got together and made a very impactful change by addressing the sixth Sustainable Development Goal – Clean Water and Sanitation. This was a massive project and I am so glad that I got to represent my club throughout the course of the project. 

Samadhi: Oh, boy! During the visit to the Batawala Primary College under the “Stop the Spread” initiative, we had to teach little children how to wash their hands properly, especially because of the pandemic. We sang the ‘Happy Birthday’ song to make the activity exciting, and God knows how many times I washed my hands and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ that day. To be honest, in my 22 years of existence it was the most I have washed my hands in a single day! Another unforgettable moment was when I fell on my back by slipping from a rock while cleaning the Bopath falls. Surprisingly, I was able to stand up instantly (maybe it was just adrenaline doing its job) and not a single muscle was aching on that day, but jeez! The worst was yet to come. My lower back was swollen for the next few days and I had to rely on pain relief medications. It still makes me chuckle when I think about those incidents. The fascinating thing about such moments is that they remind me how wonderful the last year in Rotaract was and at the same time make me realize how even the small steps we take can make a big difference in someone’s life, the community, and nature.

Also, how can I forget the late-night calls and meetings, which set the foundation for many projects we did as well as managed to make me laugh unstoppably and stuck a lot of interesting stories in my head. Ultimately, concluding a project successfully thanks to long meetings and seeing the positive results, gives you a feeling of self-happiness and fulfillment. 

What are some of the life lessons you’ve learned during the past year, through your engagement with the post and the club?

Sandali: I believe I have learnt to be more responsible, determined and to be thankful. I am thankful that I was given this post and given a chance to do what I can do for the benefit of a precious little club that houses so many wonderful personalities like ours. 

Samadhi: There are numerous things that I have learned working in the club and from the position that I have held. I honestly can go on and on about them, but if I sum up those lessons in several sentences, they can be unveiled as follows.

Shoot your shot even if you are not super sure about something at a particular time because the outcome of the sudden things we do in life is not always negative. I’ve also come to realize that certain stuff I think is not so important at some point can turn out to be one of the most remarkable circumstances later. It is better not to try to accomplish a lot at once (maybe it’s just applicable for me). Trying not to overfill my pockets with heaps of goals and objectives has given me the space to acquire the best form of the output of any effort. Most importantly, I’ve learnt that the more you interact with people, the more you discover how friendly, positive and supportive people are, basically their inner good. In other words, investing my time and making an effort to create bonds, definitely have not gone in vain.

I’m sure you are aware of the new Vice-President Elects for the upcoming Rotaract Year – Rtr. Yohan Soyza and Rtr. Kavindi Gunawardena. What would be your advice for these two versatile members who will fill your shoes for the next 12 months?

Sandali: First of all, Congratulations to both of you, I know that you both have great potential to help the club pull off yet another great year! My advice is to always look out for ways that you two could help the club, reach out to other club members especially the President, Secretary and all the Avenue Directors. Help them out as much as you can and keep track of all the projects. It makes their lives a little bit easier, trust me!

Samadhi: Woot woot! Congrats! I’m sure you both are well-capable individuals who’ll be able to do amazing things for the betterment of the club.

As I said before, the past year with the Rotaract Arts has been an interesting learning experience. So, here are the top three pieces of advice I can give you two based on my experience in the club.

Time management is extremely important. Make sure to have at least a rough plan on the duties that need to be done in a specific period, and having a list of prioritized activities would come in handy during unexpected times.

I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial effective communication is. Most of the time, communication will provide you with answers to lots of problems.

Last but not least, be empathetic. It is no secret that Rotaract is committed to improving the lives of people. To do that, one needs to have a heart that can sense other people’s emotions. I firmly think this world would be a far better place if we had more empathetic leaders.

Here is bonus advice! Majority of the people in Rotaract (or the Rotaractors that I have met) are obsessed with Harry Potter and I mean OBSESSED. They talk, discuss, argue and create fan theories about Harry Potter. It is the go-to topic on any occasion. So, if you don’t want to feel lost (kone inna in literal words), at least binge-watch the movies before joining the future Rotaract meetings or gatherings!

As two talented ladies who have held a principal post within the executive committee, what is your message for young girls who are aspiring leaders?

Sandali: Always keep in mind that there’s something to gain from every task you are given and that there’s always something to give as well. You’ll eventually do your best if you have that interest in your heart. 

Samadhi: Well, opportunities don’t always come your way, you need to step outside your comfort zone while maintaining your boundaries to seek those golden opportunities. Being afraid to take risks will limit your chances, and in some circumstances, it’s better to go with your gut feeling than to follow in the same footsteps the majority have walked in. If you pay enough attention, you’ll be able to notice that there are plenty of things people can learn from each other, but remember not to compare yourself with others because everyone is unique in their own way. Finally, “Believe in yourself, you have so much potential that you think” – this is exactly what my mother used to tell me, and frankly, I can’t think of a better quote than this to conclude this little message.   

Before winding up the interview, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the newly appointed Executive committee and Board of Directors. Good luck guys! I wholeheartedly wish for a fantastic year ahead.

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

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