Hello world!

Hello. Time is quickly approaching for us (Meg and Daman) to fly off on a big adventure.  There is a certain amount of nervousness and apprehension combined with unbounded curiousity and excitement that is causing a bit of queasiness.  It is going to be such an experience to see a totally new part of the world and reconncect with our Sri Lankan friends. 

In planning for our work there, it is hard to estimate what is needed, what is it exactly that the United States can do to help citizens in Sri Lanka?  For several weeks I have been trying to get my head around this question and it boils down to:

a. Helping citizens to know that they can make a difference.  Build confidence.

b. Demonstrating how Americans have worked to improve their democracy and offer strategies that might be useful.

c. Providing strategies for uniting disenfranchised minorities with the majority population in common goals- a peaceful Sri Lanka.

These are heady and daring assignments and believe me, I am not naive enough to think that our visit alone will make the difference.  Instead, I am concentrating on how in some small way, Daman and I might plant a seed that can grow and make the nation stronger, safer and more prosperous.  We have already seen this happening. 

In March a group of eighteen young Sri Lankan leaders came to UVA in an effort to examine U.S. history and the role of civic engagement in spreading the benefits of democracy.  Since leaving they have continued to connect with one another and seek out ways in which the people of Sri Lanka can unite in the cause of democratic freeedoms for all citizens. 

People have asked Daman and me- Why would you want to leave your families, travel half way around the  world to an unstable country and spend three weeks?  My answer is- I have to.  I have to because I believe so strongly in the cause of freedom.  Not just freedom for Americans.  I believe that all the world’s people should have the freedoms I often take for granted.  The freedom to walk down the street without fear of kidnap, the freedom to speak my mind without of arrest, the freedom to determine my own economic destiny and pursue individual dreams, the right to practice religion without fear of persecution- these should be the rights of all humans and not the unique domain of American citizens.  And so- that is why I am going to Sri Lanka and I would imagine that the reason is the same for Daman.

In some small way- we want to be a part of starting a spark that will engage the Sri Lankan nation in determining its future.

Meg

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