Beyond Borders brought young people
from around the region together, bonding them through awareness
on different issues and of course through lots of fun. Ishani Ranasinghe
and Vidushi Seneviratne were at the event
Put a group of twenty two young, enthusiastic and very opinionated
group of people together and what would you get… something
like the Core Group Members of Beyond Borders.
Borders is a regional sharing, learning, and networking project
for young people between the ages 18 to 23, in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,
India, Pakistan and the UK. This is a project of British Council
Sri Lanka and is partnered by the Rotaract Club of Colombo. The
project focuses on building greater mutual understanding, learning
and respect, while developing an understanding of active global
citizenship, which is the theme assigned for the year 2005. The
unique element in this project is that its agenda of activities
are designed by young people for young people.
functional network of a hundred Core Group Members (CGMs) in all
five countries are currently managing project activities, focusing
on active citizenship and social development, within a period of
eighteen months. With workshops and outreach work to distribute
learning gained through project work, the CGMs will gain exposure
to best practice community projects, in collaboration with partners.
A colourful highlight of Beyond Borders has been the five festivals
organised in India, UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, with
the Sri Lankan festival held last week at the BMICH.
around the tag line ‘See. Think. Act’ the festival consisted
of numerous workshops and lectures that were geared towards social
consciousness, a highly successful concert that highlighted the
cultural aspects of Sri Lanka, and visits to action projects undertaken
by the Sri Lankan CGMs.
The workshops conducted during the course of two days, focused on
many aspects that are relevant to today’s youth. It focused
on the age group of fourteen to twenty four years. Some of the aspects
were Sexual Health Education, Conflict Resolution, Public Speaking
and Awareness on HIV/AIDS and the Human Effect of it.
of these workshops were interactive, which meant the impact was
greater with the young participants, consisting of students from
about 80 schools, as well as school leavers actively participating
in the sessions. This helped to always keep them on their toes and
had their interest at the highest level. Of course some of the workshops
were more popular than the others, which should be expected.
participation for all the workshops was very commendable, reaching
almost a thousand and at the end of the day many of the students
and their teachers wanted sessions to be held in their respective
For many participants at the festival one of the high points was
the two forum theatres that were conducted by the Sri Lankan CGMs.
To many, the concept of forum theatre was new and an experience
in itself. Two forum theatres were held: one focusing on HIV/AIDS
and the other on Conflict Resolution.
through these two workshops, it was amazing the insight you got
into people’s ways of thinking. It also showed that there
really was hope in the case of these matters, at least in people’s
opinions. The participants were able to step into play, think differently
and voice out, or in this case act out their opinion.
It was known as a place where energy meets, and at the risk of sounding
clichéd we have to say it sure was just that. It was a simple
concert with four performances, all of which depicted Sri Lankan
traditions, culture and the talent that was within people.
evening started off with a performance by the kids from the Sunera
Foundation. Watching these kids on stage, everyone’s heartstrings
were tugged. Here was a group of people hardly noticed by society
at times. They were on stage proving that they were as good as any
of us, and they deserve a place in society.
their performance was the Hewisi Band of S. Thomas’ College,
a line up of Fusion Drummers, and the grand finale being none other
than Bathiya and Santhush with Randhir and Ashanthi. It didn’t
take much for this duo to get the international participants to
get on their feet, and they were almost immediately followed by
the rest of the audience, and the kids from the Sunera Foundation,
who later joined the performers on stage.
special guests for this evening, who undoubtedly enjoyed every minute
of the night, were the kids from Shanthi Animation Centre. These
kids at present are being taught English by the Sri Lankan CGMs,
as a part of their action projects for this year.
days of fun, learning, new experiences and interacting… for
the Sri Lankan CGMs and the volunteers, it was a little more stressful
and hectic. But all in all, looking back it was well worth the effort.
the last day came to a close, everyone was glad to be a part of
this. Friends were made, memories collected and targets achieved.
So did they go beyond the borders? (excuse the cliché), well
we certainly think so.