Breaking Through

As appeared in the Sunday Times :

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.

Beyond 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.

A 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.

Woven 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
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.

Most 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.

The 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 schools.

Forum theatre
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.

Sitting 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.

Junction…
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.

The 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.

Following 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.

The 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.

Three 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.

As 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.

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Posted on 04/25/2006, in Bangladesh, Events-Activities-Announcements, Festival, HIV/AIDS, India, Kids, Pakistan, Peace-Conflict-Governance, Sex - Sexuality - Gender, Sri Lanka, Theatre, Youth-Culture-Society. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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