Glimpse 2020 has come to you this time with an astounding Rotaractor. His journey in Rotaract is yet another inspiring story for all our fellow Rotaractors.
Yes, he is non-other than Rtr. Savindu Herath, joining with us all the way from Switzerland. So let’s see what he has to share with all of us based on his life experiences.
Q: Hello, Rtr. Savindu! First of all, we believe our readers want to know more about you. So, how would you like to introduce yourself?
I am Savindu Herath, a graduate of the University of Moratuwa, and currently pursuing higher studies at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. I enjoyed being a part of the aforementioned Rotaract clubs and going back the memory lane I recollect unforgettable friends, stories, memories.
Q: Having astonishing accomplishments since schooltimes, how did you make use of your leadership skills during your Rotaract life?
If I simply list them down, in Rotaract Mora, I worked as the
- Co-chairperson Hand in Hand – 2015
- Co-chairperson of Grama Prabodhaya – 2016/17
- Director of Finance – 2016/17
And in Rotaract Alumni Mora, I was the
- Director of Community Service 2017/18
Q: There should not be the slightest uncertainty, you have involved in significant events organized by Rotaract Mora. So, let’s have a little bit of a throwback on them.
Grama Prabodhaya 2016/17 – Single club international best project winner for the first time in the Sri Lankan Rotaract history
Hand in Hand 2015 – I am happy along with my team to revitalize this flagship fundraising project in 2015 and it is indeed a pleasure to see how far this project has gone to raise funds exceeding 2 million LKR annually. HiH 2015 won the Bronze award for the most outstanding fundraising project.
Q: With all these milestones, definitely you must not have gone under the radar! Let’s take a moment to remind the awards and recognitions you received.
Spirit of service awards of Rotaract Mora and Alumni club. Also, as mentioned earlier, the best recognition I and my team had was winning the Single club international best project for the first time in Sri Lanka for the project Grama Prabodhaya.
Q: When it comes to selecting where you spend the rest of your life with piles of research work and mountains of books, it becomes a critical decision. So, what made you choose Switzerland as your academic destination?
Switzerland offers ample opportunities for personal and career development. It has a booming industrial sector with, in my opinion, the world’s best-managed economy. The vivid landscape with snow-capped Swiss Alps is also enticing ?
Q: It’s true that fresh graduates need to master their skills further. But, if someone asks you what made you leave the motherland for that purpose, what would you say?
First, I would say it is certainly not because I just wanted to say goodbye to Sri Lanka after tremendously benefiting from the free education system. In my opinion, everyone should try to reach their maximum potential and look for the best growth path. The world is full of opportunities and the young should seize these opportunities to do their best not only for themselves but for the wider community as well.
It does not matter whether you stay in the country or not. As a responsible Sri Lankan with a heart filled with gratitude, you can always contribute at your level best to the development of the motherland. And as a Sri Lankan abroad, I witness a lot of Sri Lankans residing overseas contributing to the betterment of Sri Lanka.
Q: Left Sri Lanka, put the mind into pursuing higher education. A new goal, a new life. What were your expectations? Is the land of chocolates doing justice?
Everything was much better than I expected despite the life getting much hectic. I was also wondering whether the super awesome sceneries you see in traveling videos about Switzerland are true and I soon realized that they are real ?. But it’s a pity that there is no sea/beach here ?.
Q: A new life has never been a bed of roses, not even in a country full of roses. So, what were the thorns? What made Swiss life a challenge for you?
The main challenge is that you have to do everything on your own rather than your family helping you. Managing work, studies, and all the other day to day activities is challenging. Next, adjusting to the culture shock, price shock, and adapting to the local language (Swiss German in my case) is also challenging. When you go shopping you see everything in German and you barely understand anything ?.
Q: With some effort, even thorns can be turned in to flower buds. How did you manage to do that? How did you overcome the challenges?
If you are focused and result oriented it does not take much time to adjust to challenging environments. Of course, my colleagues at work and the university were quite helpful. Also, there is a lot of information available on the internet which you can use to plan and get ready for what is yet to unfold.
Q: Leaving the loved ones behind and moving into a new country must’ve been hard. Managing these friendships and relationships must’ve been even harder. How did you do that? How did the new friendships fill the gap?
Social media and other communication channels keep me connected with my family and friends. It is amazing to see how meetings happen over the internet. New ones are so diverse and are spanning across the globe.
Q: One day you’re a Sri Lankan in Sri Lanka, the next day you’re a Sri Lankan in Switzerland. How did you accept this cultural change?
Experiencing different cultures is one of the best forms of education you can have. It helps you to think in different perspectives and understand people. And it is the best way to prevent cultural conflicts, extremism, and racism.
Q: A person who moves into a new lifestyle needs the community to help the most. How did your new community provide that support?
The community is open, well-disciplined and at the same time is helpful. They provided me information and guided me during the first few weeks. And most importantly I asked them if I was not sure about anything. Formal induction programs are also conducted to integrate newcomers to university and work environment.
Q: The best way to blend into the new community is to help others. How are you lending your helping hand to the community after being an expat?
As a past Rotaractor, it is very difficult to stay without helping the people around you and the people whom you think need your help. Therefore I contribute to the university affairs as an office-bearer of the student union to make the students’ life enjoyable and productive. In the meantime, I and my parents contribute to a few scholarships for Sri Lankan students.
Q: Rtr. Savindu, you have inspired many fellow Rotaractors when you were a university student. We are certain the charisma has never fallen. They would love to hear from you. What kind of message do you have?
The best message which I can share is that to always actively look for opportunities. Opportunities transform yourself and the world around you. The famous quote from Richard Branson says “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
Q: Finally, we’d like a few words from you about this project Glimpse as well.
From my childhood, I was fond of reading the profiles and experiences of other people and it has helped me to shape my career. Therefore I think Glimpse is a gem for anybody who likes to learn from the experience and thoughts of another person. I extend my heartiest gratitude for the organizers of Glimpse for giving me this opportunity to present my thoughts and views. I wish Glimpse all the success!
Thank you, Rtr. Savindu, for the valuable time you spent with us. We hope you’ll ace your goals and become the pride of Rotaract Alumni Mora.
By: Rtr. Sajeewa Jayarathne