“Remember us always as thy children
Oh lord, Instill in us the true meaning of friendship
That the differences of cultures and creed should not matter”,
are golden words that are experienced and lived by expat Rotaractors. Today, we bring to you, the story of Rtr. Bhanuka Abeygoonawardana, a Rotaract Alumni Mora member who now resides in Switzerland.
Here is a glimpse of his experience of how the opportunity to be an expat has brought out the best of his Rotaract traits and values.
Q: Rtr. Bhanuka, tell us a bit about why you are in Switzerland?
After the completion of my BSc. Engineering in the field of Mechanical Engineering at University of Moratuwa, I got an opportunity to come here for an internship at the ZHAW School of Engineering. This was a valuable opportunity for me because I had a dream to visit Switzerland at least once in my lifetime. Switzerland has preserved its title as “the best country to live in the world” for so many years. Plus, the natural beauty and the advanced technology in this country gave me more reason to come here. It has been about 3 months for my life here, and it has been very satisfying.
Q: That’s splendid! Weren’t there any tough times you had to go through since the beginning of this new chapter of your life?
The main challenge I faced was being all alone, away from my family and friends in Sri Lanka. To be honest, during the first couple of weeks, it was very hard to live in an unknown country without any familiar face,. But gradually, I got used to that feeling of being away from home. I still miss my parents, family, friends, relatives, and neighbors back at home. That will always be the case. But I don’t dwell on this feeling. I have now made new companions in my new neighborhood, the university, office, and the Cricket Club for which I play. After making new friends here, life has become fun and joyful again.
The next main challenge that I’m still facing is the difference in language. German is the main language here, but I am not very fluent in German yet. This has become an obstacle to complete my day to day activities here.
Then, the next challenge is obvious for any expat; that’s the task of sourcing food. I too had to settle for the option of cooking for myself as the solution to this problem. Cooking, itself was a challenge for me during the first couple of weeks, but now I am relieved to say that I am good at it.
Q: We believe that making the home in a land away from home, is indeed an opportunity to live and experience the true traits of Rotaractors. Would you agree?
Yes, definitely. This new life has taught me the true value of friendship, the importance of the mutual understanding between individuals who come from different backgrounds, the beauty of the differences in culture and lifestyles, to name a few.
Friends I have made from the office and from the Cricket Club are my second family now. They are the ones who teach me and support me in most of the new things here. They look after me and take care of me because they know that I’m still adapting to this environment. At the time when I was sick and was unable to do my things alone, they supported me and looked after me as one of their own family members. They have always lent a hand whenever I had issues with language or even with money. Their understanding is definitely a blessing to me, and it’s an experience of true friendship.
On top of that, the friends I have made in Office, who are mostly Swiss and Germans, and those from the Cricket Club, who are Asians, Europeans, and Africans, have given me a taste and feel of different cultures. Through them, I have been able to learn habits, behaviors, rituals of different creeds and this has made me respect and to value their heritage.
Q: Hearing such cooperation and understanding is truly amazing and inspiring. It’s an eye opener for us too, to be more understanding towards those around us in our community too. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
In conclusion, what are the key messages that you would like to share with all Rotaractors, and friends?
Life alone has made me realize the value of my family and friends, more than when I was with them. So my first message to everyone is to always keep your family and motherland as your first priorities. Next, always respect the value of the people around you, support them whenever possible, and try to make their lives better.