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Gearing up for the Galle Lit Fest

Preparing for the Focus Group discussion

In the run up to the 2012 Galle Literary Festival in which Beyond Borders will be participating in  two sessions, we decided to run down to Galle to gather some ideas for our dramas.

We didn’t get up early in the morning, as is customary when going our of Colombo, to catch a bus. Rather we decided to go a little late and well late we did become. However, we managed to have a lovely bus ride to Galle, chilled, well rested and ready for action!

We spoke to youth residing both within the Galle Fort and outside, and were enlightened to a variety of issues that were unique to that area.

The youth we spoke to, between the ages of 16 and 20, mostly felt that their parents were not giving them the freedom they sought. This was the key issue, resonating the discussion throughout the time we spent in discussion with them. This when questioned, boiled down to external problems like the Western influence within the Fort. According to the children, the parents felt that they were unable to give too much freedom to their children because they might run astray. We realised the locals were experiencing a certain reverse culture clash. The group we spoke to felt that their parents were not like the ‘cool’ Colombo folk who gave their children ample freedom to engage in youth activities and social work. However, most of the youth were rational, citing the pros and cons of their parents’ reasoning, but they wished that they had less restrictions on socialising.

Another problem that arose was on the topic of education. Like youth from most other places, the youth from Galle too felt that the education system does not allow them the best of opportunities to showcase their talents. They felt the current education system only made them ‘bookish’ and did not allow them the chance to engage in the sporting activities they are otherwise good at. We found that this is the same story everywhere. When the child comes to higher levels of education in school the parents want their children to prioritise on their education, keeping all other extra-curricular activities at bay.

Of course, the guys felt that they couldn’t talk to the girls and that they were shy; but that was besides the point during the interactive session we had with these energetic youth.

The Galle Literary Festival will be held from the 18th to the 22nd of January 2012 and beyond Borders will be performing on the 20th and 21st of January.

Bhagya Senaratne

Bhagya is a board member of Beyond Borders. She is currently reading for her MA in International Relations and she’s our mole in the government. She blogs here. Her opinions are her own.

 

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Join Us

…in our quest to crush evil and restore peace in the world! And the best part is you won’t have to wear a spandex suit and your undies on the outside (unless you want to…).

All right, on a more serious note- we are on a recruitment drive. Beyond Borders (BB) is a youth led and youth run voluntary organisation that provides young people with a platform to create social change. For more information regarding what BB has accomplished over the years, feel free to browse through more of our blog posts.

If you’re interested in joining us refer the poster below for details on how to join our team of elite local superheroes.

Real Men Do Not Harass Women

As most of my friends and I have had our fair share of encounters with perverts, mostly while travelling in public transport. Initially when a woman encounters such weird disturbing characters we become scared and even come to a point to be ashamed that maybe it was our fault for have invited such due to our dress code or so on. But due to the mentality of such perverts they actually tend to enjoy making a woman feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and probably assume we will not make a commotion and carry on with their pervert-ish acts.

It is well known that in society there exists people with diverse mentalities but harassment is not something any woman should face in order to satisfy anyone idiosyncrasies. Any person found to have caused harassment is possible to be faced with penal sanctions and no woman should stay quiet about it, speak up and stand up for all women! since no one should tolerate harassment.

One project that interested me was one carried out by Reach Out with the help of Beyond Borders that creates awareness through forum theatre relating to harassment of women in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately I could not commit to this project due to busy work schedules, but something anyone should be a part of, since it speaks of a social issue that needs to be addressed by all.

Recently I came across a post by this site called Hollaback, which is a global movement to end street harassment and HollabackMumbai is where Indian women can share their experiences of such harassment and create awareness. One article that caught my eye was the following, and thought of sharing it with everyone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Original post by Radhi de Silva.

The Sacred Vote

We visited a community of Northern Displaced IDPs in Puttlam recently. This was part of our Peace and Governance initiative, an effort to improve cohesion between youth and the entity we call Governance.

We had 3 discussions in course of our visit; the first was with a group of youth, the second with a young provincial council member elected to Jaffna and the last was with a few officials and community representatives from the Community Trust Fund.

Their problems are complex and community discourse has reached a fever pitch with the war ending and the possibilities of relocating to their old homes becoming a reality.

But we found yet another issue that mainly was faced by the youth; young people are facing an inability to act upon their right to vote. Most youngsters who have left the territories before the age of being eligible to vote have not received their voting registration forms yet.

So we got together with a bunch of other young people and wrote a letter to the Elections Commissioner about it. A lot of much more useful work has been done in this regard of course by organizations like CPA and CTF. We heard that the elections commissioner was due to release a circular enabling them to vote during this election, but are yet to find out what came of it.

A casual report on our discussion with the IDP youth can be viewed here.

Jerked

At school; everyone's friendly after the play..

At school; everyone very friendly after the play.

Jerk? went well. The turn out was good and the cast was in top form. Many intervened and came up with their views and we are grateful to everyone who was present for helping us make it a success.

We are in the process of preparing a report on our findings and will share it as soon as it is complete. Also, optimistic plans are underway to do a few more performances to raise awareness of ADHD in the near future (fingers crossed). Pictures of the play will be up soon on flickr 🙂

Forum theater is one of Beyond Borders’ most eloquent modes of communication. If you’d like to do theater with us, well you’re in luck because we’re recruiting.

Our thanks go out to the following blogs which highlighted Jerk? before and after its screening; ASOB NQIM, The Abyss, The Ultimate Change, The Whackter’s Lair and to everyone who tweeted about it as well. Don’t think we missed anyone, but apologies if we did.

Join Beyond Borders, because we’re hiring

We are now calling for applications for young people between the ages 18 to 24 who are passionate about social and development issues and wanting a platform. Please find out about who we are and what we do (but considering that you’re here reading this, we would assume you would know these things), and if you are interested in joining us, do the following:

  1. Email us to recruitments[at]beyondborders.lk a brief description of yourself, including your name (obviously), contact details, educational background, extra curricular activities you did (tell us what you did, not the groups you were a member of) and if you’ve worked anywhere, details of that. Keep the description to a maximum of 300 words.
  2. Write 300 words on something you are extremely passionate about, or something you want to work on in your life. This is not a test of your writing skills; we just need to make sure that you will enjoy getting involved with BB. If you have an idea, but no idea how to implement it, you can write about that and we might provide you the platform to do so.

The current recruitment drive closes applications on the 12th of September, so make sure that you send your applications in before that. We will have a look at it, and we’ll conduct informal interviews on the 19th and 20th of September. So make sure that you keep at least an hour free on one of those days.

For More on who we are and what we do, look through this website or find us on Youtube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter.

Unlike many other organizations, canvassing will actually get you places. We want to ensure that you’re energetic and that you want to get things done, so if you manage to convince us that you are what we’re looking for, well good for you. Have a look around the blog, and pop over to our website as well.

TEDxColombo. This Sunday @ Punchi (Speakers Revealed)

As readers of this blog would know, we are hosting TEDxColombo, a spin off from the world renowned TED conference. Based on the theme of “Ideas for Sri Lanka’s Future” at this important juncture in our history, the event would feature 4 live speakers and 3 Ted talks and lots of space for discussion, debate and lots of good ideas.

Date :  Sunday, 19th of July @ Punchi Theatre from 9.30 to 4.30 pm (registrations start at 9 am).

The speakers for the event are as follows,

  • Rohan Samarajiva (Chair of Lirneasia) on the topic of implementing tri-lingual government services.
  • Nushad Perera, CMO of Dialog Telekom on the topic of “Fixed vs. Mobile”.
  • Asantha Sirimanne, Editor-in-chief of Lanka Business Online on Fiscal Responsibility.
  • Lakshman Gunasekera, former Editor of Sunday Observer. on the Topic of Transforming Sri Lanka’s Media Culture

Watch the TEDxColombo twitter for updates and connect to us from Facebook. If you’d like to attend the event, register online. We are fast running out of places.  If you need quick info feel free to give us a buzz on 0774186560

Thanks for all the bloggers and tweeps who are helping us spread the word (blogs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ) All of you deserve free tickets. email tedxcol[at]beyondborders.lk with the subject line “Blogger tickets” to get one.

We won’t be streaming the event, but we’ll be recoring it and sending it to TED, who might it put up on their site if they think it’s worth it.

Fixing educashun

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I was not a student who academically excelled in School. Whilst scoring high in subject such as Maths and Science, I was horrible at the subjects that required one to “study” for them. And even though I find writing absolutely enjoyable now, it was not so when I was in school. My teachers made me hate the subject.

A lot of people have been arguing for comprehensive reforms in Sri Lanka’s education sector. This would have to come in the form of reforming the methodology of teaching, reforming the systems of learning, and a complete revamp of the curricula.

Looking at how state funded schools are being used, we have to realize that schools are useless things, most of the time. Let me explain.

Read the rest of this entry

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The Financial Crisis and it’s Impact on Sri Lanka

Last week, I was at a workshop on the financial crisis and it’s impact on South Asian economies put together by LYSA – Liberal Youth of South Asia – a network of South Asian youth organizations based on liberal values.

The workshop was mainly handled by Dipankar Sengupta, professor of economics at the Jammu University, an interesting chap with wide interests. From my conversations with him I gathered he’s mildly sympathetic to the Austrian School and the work of Hayek, et al.

Dr. Harsha De Silva, also made a guest appearance for a session on the global recession and South Asia mainly focusing on the plight of Sri Lanka. His presentation was surprisingly fun, something I didn’t expect from him.

The following are some broad points by the two speakers from my notes and by no means complete and comprehensive.

What really happened

The narrative of what exactly happened in the U.S. mortgage market which led to the financial crisis and what caused those problems are very relevant. However, because I’m too lazy to put it down, I will post a couple of links which I think captures the (classical) liberal narrative of what happened in the financial crisis and largely conforms to the narrative given by Prof. Sengupta.

The first is a video on youtube and second is this article by Lawrence White at Cato unbound.

The Impact on the rest of the world

According to Sengupta, the reason for the impact of the financial crisis on the rest of the world, particularly in Asia, is pretty simple. U.S. and Europe is the largest export market for most Asian economies, when the economy in those countries goes into recession, demand for foreign exports fall, when exports fall demand for labor in export industries also fall, resulting in adverse economic conditions in exporting countries.
Impact on Sri Lanka

Adding on, Harsha de Silva made the following points.

  • Sri Lanka is only now beginning to feel the brunt of the financial crisis, its impact on top of our already mismanaged macroeconomic conditions will hurt us even more.- Sri Lanka for example, refused to depreciate the currency even when other countries in South Asia, such as India, did so. (see LBO’s recent fussbudet Column).
    – We have had a problem of high inflation for a very long time
  • Financial crisis will impact Sri Lanka in number of distinct ways.Middle-eastern domestic workers who Sri Lanka depends on so much might loose their jobs, resulting in a loss of foreign exchange.There is no liquidity in the market, so borrowing for government for example is going to be tough.

    The ‘patriotic bond’ which the Sri Lankan government tried miserably failed, raising only 1% of the expected amount. CPC alone has a debt of about US$ 800 million which needs to be paid.

  • The Government however keeps harping on the high GDP growth. GDP however can be misleading when government expenditure is high, particularly for things like the military. It’s an example of Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy.
  • Sri Lankan companies are already hurting. Last quarterly results of all traded companies showed that profits have declined by 61% in Q1. If one were to take the banks out of the equation there have been a decline of 81% in profits in the rest of the sectors.
  • As solutions,Policies like the fiscal stimulus have less impact on Sri Lanka, because there’s already a lot of government spending.“Looking inwards” is also a bad policy, and not practical since Sri Lanka is a small country.

    Need to somehow raise private investments or go begging to the IMF. No real silver lining in the dark cloud.

Dipakar Sengupta:

  • Focus on the long term and reforms is one way to cushion the adverse effects of recessions. For example high labour costs force exporters to become niche producers and cater to niche markets (e.g. expensive lingerie in the case of SL) which are most vulnerable when it comes to recessions.

— Deane.

Deane is Core Group Member of Beyond Borders and formerly a blogger.  The workshop was organized by Liberal Youth Guilds, the Sri Lankan partner for LYSA.  BB is now an observer member of LYSA.