Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo
SPEAKING YOUR MIND
Shamalka Bandara calls on our youth to boldly speak their minds
Q: What’s the good, bad and ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: We are all proud of and should be grateful for Sri Lanka’s heritage and culture. But as a country steeped in this inheritance, it is sometimes difficult to express an opinion that is not aligned with traditional or conventional views.
While I’m extremely proud to be Sri Lankan and have immense respect for our culture, I believe that some viewpoints hinder us unnecessarily in this evolving world. The mindset of adhering to stringent thinking that’s aligned with these traditions and culture restricts us from thinking outside the box.
Q: In your opinion, what are the challenges facing the nation today?
A: In a country brimming with talented youth, the main challenge is to be able to stand out in this innovative crowd. Sri Lanka is blessed with young people who have open minds but I feel that very few have the opportunity to speak their minds. The day we overcome this challenge, the force of Mother Lanka will be extraordinary – nothing can bring it down.
Q: How about talent? How can Sri Lanka retain it?
A: With this country being a mine of undiscovered treasures, all we have to do is dig deep and explore those talents. Simply identifying the skills of budding generations is insufficient; they must be offered an opportunity and a platform to express their aspirations and skills. It is imperative that parents and teachers guide these young people, instil confidence in them and encourage them to move forward.
Q: Do you believe that the country will be united one day?
A: Currently the answer is uncertain as it is the attitude of the upcoming generation that will decide this. We’ll be united when we begin to accept and appreciate our individuality, and when we begin to learn from our mistakes and help others – rather than belittle and criticise the efforts that are being made to better our country – and inspire rather than be self-impressed. That is the day the beams of unity will shine throughout our nation again.
Q: Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?
A: I should be beginning my career as a dermatologist and providing a service, especially to those who are less privileged, by working part-time for social organisations. I will also ensure that I give back to my parents and sister who have supported me immensely by guiding me along the path to success, as well as my teachers at Alethea who have moulded me into that product.
It is they who transformed me from simply being a ‘regular Shamalka’ to a Shamalka with leadership qualities, by honing an array of extracurricular activities that have lent my character multiple dimensions – all of which will hold me in good stead in the future.
Q: What are your expectations of the world and its people?
A: With the exposure I’ve had through my extracurricular activities, I now realise that the same world that I used to fantasise about is trying to knock me down. I don’t expect the world to be a pleasant and welcoming place, but hope that my strength, confidence and faith will prevail over those negativities to help me achieve my dreams.
Q: Do the present world leaders live up to your expectations?
A: Most public leaders don’t walk the talk – not only in Sri Lanka but worldwide. Misrepresentation, sexism and racism continue to remain under-addressed by leaders across the world – they are among the most deep-rooted problems faced by society. But I do appreciate those leaders who make every effort to make our country and the world a better place.
Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media?
A: Media is widely known and used everywhere today, especially among the younger generation. If used in the appropriate way, it opens doors for the multitalented youth we have, providing the necessary exposure and competency to work and survive in this highly competitive, evolving and indecisive world.
Social media provides a window of opportunity to express opinions and creates awareness across social strata. In fact, it is a tool that breaks barriers, connects people from all over the world and enables them to learn about one another, highlighting issues that need action.
It is also a medium through which we’re able to showcase what we can offer.