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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dinner with the Sri Lankan Eisenhower Fellows!


On Monday night after a LONG day of meetings, the Eisenhower Fellows of Sri Lanka got together and hosted me to a dinner so that I could meet everyone and they could meet me.  It was a lovely affair. The head of the Sri Lanka Eisenhower Fellows is HD Gunawardena. Mr. Gunawardena traveled as an Eisenhower Fellow in †he 1970s and remains one of the carriers of the legacy and primary liasion between EF and SL.  Mr. Gunawardena used to run and own a well established shipping company in Sri Lanka. He currently owns and operates a leading travel agency in SL called Helvanka Travels.   After first meeting Mr. Gunawardena I could instantly tell he why he was a prominent figure in Sri Lanka and the leader of the EF group.  He is a no-nonsense but very affable man has clearly reached a level of high repute in SL circles and is now enjoying his well deserved retirement but takes a passionate and serious stance when it comes to matters of Eisenhower Fellowship.
There were several other Sri Lankan Fellows who were in attendance that night. Although it was a smaller crowd, all of the Sri Lankan Fellows are extremely noteworthy, very active in their profession, and seem to be serious about taking Sri Lanka, and the SL Eisenhower Program, to new heights. This new height, coincidently, will perhaps be met next year in 2012.
One of the main topics of the evening was centered around the Eisenhower Fellowship Conference to be held next September.  I found out that night that the SL Fellows have proposed to hold the Eisenhower Fellowship Conference in Sri Lanka for 2012. “Wow”, I thought. “This could be huge”.  Should  an event like this happen, this would be amazing,  Not only for what it will say about Sri Lanka, its relationship with EF, and the increase in tourism beyond Europe and Asia, that will inevitably occur by hosting a conference of this magnitude, but if done well and supported, it will show that not only is the Country truly serious about its bright and shinning future, but so is the South East Asian region and  the US. 
From my knowledge, conferences take planning, coordination, partnerships, sponsorships, etc… There are many moving pieces, organization is key, a  good strong team of workers, planners, and executors, makes all the difference.  So when I found out about this proposed plan of SL to  lead the charge and step out front, I began to believe that “yes, this is exactly what Sri Lanka needs at this moment.” By hosting the conference this could potentially hasten the national transition process, in of course a niched way, but definitely will help to bring and usher in new partners or perspectives to the table in its redevelopment. 
Of course, when I heard that this was the goal….I immediately set my mind to be of help in any way possible. Of course, my attendance will be a given, however, ideas that are fresh, collaborative, and progressive, are in order to make this conference a roaring success! “This is right alley”…I thought………ideas are brimming galore.  Excited!
Alright then…..let’s go 2012!

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