A group of 18 young Sri Lankan professionals representing marginalized communities participated in the Center’s inaugural Global Perspectives on Democracy (GPD) program on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. This gathering took place in partnership with Relief International and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs during a three week exchange. Participants came to the U.S. to learn about the American system of government and how organizations in this country operate compared to those they work for in Sri Lanka.
The Center hosted four days of classroom exercises, activities and site visits that focused on American history, government, pluralism and civic engagement. The purpose of this training was to provide a general level of knowledge of the American political system, illustrate America’s pluralistic evolution, and exchange ideas on how Sri Lankans can work to build civic participation between its citizens and government.
View the program agenda, a list of speakers and their associated transcripts. Audio files are available upon request.
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Sri Lanka: July 31 – August 23, 2009
As a follow-up to the Charlottesville segment of the exchange, the Center staff members who coordinated the program, Daman Irby and Meg Heubeck, were selected to travel to Sri Lanka and participate in the three week return portion of the U.S. Department of State sponsored exchange. They visited organizations and individuals who advocate peaceful co-existence and equal rights for all in Sri Lanka, travelled throughout much of the island to visit cultural sites and view projects started by the 18 GPD participants, and held a workshop on civic engagement, advocacy, and free internet technologies.
Visit http://srilankansupreme.wordpress.com to read about their experiences.
Sri Lanka at the Crossroads: War, Peace, and Democracy
The Honorable Ashley Wills, Former Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Charlottesville: October 15, 2009
The Center for Politics hosted a public event in the autumn following the return of Daman Irby and Meg Heubeck from the Sri Lanka portion of the exchange. The Honorable Ashley Wills, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2000 to 2003 opened as the guest speaker where he discussed his experiences while serving on the island nation, his impressions of actions taking place at the present by the Sri Lankan government, and his view on the future of Sri Lanka’s democracy. Following Ambassador Wills’ address, Meg and Daman gave a presentation about their experiences during the three weeks of the exchange.
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Global Perspectives of Democracy continually evaluates new exchange and event opportunities. Contact Daman Irby, Director of Global Initiatives, at email@example.com or 434-243-8475 for additional information.