Zoom-In was a cultural exchange event organized by the International Service Avenue of the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India. Leading up to the event, the organizing committee showed the audacity to make this event a great success by undertaking daunting tasks even during the commencement of semester-end exams at university.
Both Rotaract Clubs had high expectations from the Zoom-In event. The main expectations were as follows,
- To promote, respect and understand each other’s cultures.
- Promote cultures to flourish in their diversity cross-cultural skills in a globalized world.
- Given the opportunity to other local and foreign Rotaract clubs to be part and build an understanding between two dynamic yet poignant cultures.
- Symbolize the newly established bond between the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India.
Moreover, there were some specialties about this Zoom-In event.
The event commenced at 7.00 p.m. on the 10th of December and a quote by the former President of the People’s Republic of China on culture was presented as the introduction to the programme by Rtr. Subodha Rajakaruna. “Culture is a window reflecting history, culture and spiritual world of a nation. Cultural exchange is a bridge to enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the people of different nations.” After which the special guests, Rtr. Mit Joshi, District ID of RID 3054, India, Rtr. Parth Rawal, District Rotaract Representative, Rtr. Karishma Kodrani, District Rotaract Secretary and Rtr. Tejendra Vahhela, Zonal Rotaract Secretary were warmly welcomed.
Rtr. Himaza Hilmy, the Joint Director of IS, Sri Lanka and Maldives, Rtr. Pratham Yadav, President of the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India, Rtr. Siddhant Gupta, Director of IS, PDEU, India and the office bearers of the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka were also warmly welcomed to this emblematic event.
Then the floor was presented to Rtr.Chavin Fernando, the moderator of the event, who started by quoting the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka. “The threads that connect India and Sri Lanka are many: From mythology to history to civilizational, cultural, commercial and people-to-people ties, there are layers and layers of what we mean for each other. We have the profound advantage, of not having to look hard, for similarities and bonds.” Rtr.Parth Rawal, District Rotaract Representative RID 3054, India was invited afterwards to address the virtual gathering. The main highlight of his speech was mentioning that “It’s not just two clubs, it’s all about two cultures, two ethnicities and so on.”
Next, Rtr. Himaza Hilmy, the Joint Director of International Service for RID 3220, Sri Lanka and Maldives was invited to speak a few words to the virtual audience. Rtr.Himaza Hilmy stated the importance of the International Service Avenues and the main highlight of her speech was the part where she mentioned “a letterhead exchange is not just signing a piece of document, but the bond created between the clubs lasts for the future.”
Next, it was the much-awaited event of the evening. It was the signing of the first-ever Twin Club Agreement in an event organized by the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. The two Presidents of the two Rotaract Clubs signed the Twin Club Agreement virtually using the tool annotation on Zoom during which all those who were present were asked to switch on their videos. After the conclusion of the signing process, the participants were asked to switch on their videos once again to take a screenshot to symbolize the bond which had been created between the two clubs.
After the signing of the Twin Club Agreement, two videos were played by the two Rotaract Clubs respectively which provided a vast knowledge about the culture, history and the ethnic diversity in both neighbouring countries India and Sri Lanka. After both videos were played, the moderator Rtr. Chavin Fernando came up and stated that “We should be proud as Asians because of the resources we possess in the region especially considering India and Sri Lanka. Let’s hope that Asia will one day flourish as the most developed region in the world.” Rtr.Pratham Yadav the President of the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India was invited to deliver a speech afterwards. He mentioned that “Indian culture is the most complex and colourful culture in the world.” Next, it was the President of the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya Rtr. Manula Pethiyagoda’s turn to address the gathering.
The next phase of the event was the part where talented artists from both Rotaract Clubs presented their dances and songs to the audience. Rtr.Simran Sharma from the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India took the lead by presenting a stunning dance performance followed by a song presented by Rtr.Vihanga Amaranath from the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. We also had soulful performances by Rtr. Prayas Kumar Dash, Rtr. Reshini Pathirage from the popular ThreeNaree dance group in Sri Lanka, Rtr.Hridayansh Tiwari, Rtr.Sandali Imalsha and finally by Rtr.Hiral Vasara. During these performances, it was highlighted that “Sri Lanka and India do have a close relationship when it comes to traditional music and dancing and also Rabindranath Tagore’s Shanthi Nikethan, where popular Sri Lankan artists like W.D.Amaradeva have studied in.”
Next, the floor was handed over to the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India to conduct an ice-breaker in order to entertain the gathering. Rtr.Juhi Begani from the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India conducted the ice-breaker which was full of ecstasy and also tested the general knowledge of the participants regarding geographical destinations and personalities in regarding India and Sri Lanka. After the game session was concluded, Rtr.Siddhant Gupta, the Director of the International Service Avenue of the Rotaract Club of PDEU, India was invited to elaborate the gathering on the culture, diversity, and the history of India as well as about the importance of the Twin Club Agreement which was signed. In his speech he mentioned that “we should be united and strong for a better tomorrow.” After his speech was concluded it was added by the moderator that “at the awake of certain crises like COVID-19 and climate change, unity is one of the main things needed to counter them, especially between two neighbouring states like India and Sri Lanka.” Rtr. Dinithi Lorenshuhewa and Rtr. Pinsari Jayasundara, Co-Directors of the International Service Avenue of the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka were invited afterwards to speak a few words to the gathering. Both of them highlighted the importance of working together and organizing successful events in the future.
As it was getting close to the end of the emblematic Zoom-In event, the moderator Rtr. Chavin Fernando thanked the gathering and signed off by handing over to Rtr. Subodha Rajakaruna and Rtr.Chanumi Manathunge to conclude. Both of them ended the great event by thanking the special guests as well as the office bearers from both the Rotaract Clubs from India and Sri Lanka.
“Perhaps one of the greatest means to achieve global peace and harmony is cultural exchange. It opens up the vistas of human understanding and further expands our universal consciousness. Let us raise ourselves from the narrow perspective of being a citizen of a particular country to global citizenship that is the greatest demand of modern world.”
(Preeth Nambiar, The Voyage to Eternity)