Busiest Day Yet

We had quite a full schedule today.  It started with a visit to Equal Ground, a gay rights organization based in Colombo. While the law has never been inforced, homosexuality is actually illegal in Sri Lanka. Equal Ground is working to get this law changed and improve the situation of the community across the country. We had the opportunity to meet one of the members of the 18 that visited us back in March. It’s really cool when we get the chance to reunited with our Sri Lankan friends.

Our second stop took place at the Business for Peace Alliance. Their mission is “to encourage understanding and tolerance of diverse cultures and environments through inter-regional business networks and Corporate Social Responsibility, to create a sense of ownership and responsibility within the business community to spearhead the process of conflict transformation and regional empowerment, and to be the voice of regional business and a platform for dialogue with policy makers. BPA is a partner of our host organization and led the selection of the 18 that went to the U.S. one of which is a spirited member of their staff. They are also involved in the planning of our two day symposium during the third week of our trip where Meg and I will teach sessions on civic engagement, advocacy, and free internet technologies. We worked on the symposium’s schedule today as well as enjoyed a tasty Sri Lankan spin on a steak and cheese (definitely not on my low cholesteral diet, but it was delicious and just what I needed).

We then moved on to the University of Colombo where we met with a political science professor to learn more about the political and governmental systems of Sri Lanka. Such conversations are always quite interesting here. I won’t  go into detail about all we discussed. The most surpising thing I learned was that while military service is not compulsary in Sri Lanka, a term of service lasts for 15 YEARS!

Our final business stop was with the staff of the One Text Initiative. This organization was founded by the political parties of Sri Lanka to gather members of the parliament from all parties to discuss their various perspectives off the record. Their rules include no publicity, no press, and no names on the record. America or any other country could use an organization like OTI!

The day concluded with a truly unique experience.  We had the opportunity to attend a major cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Wow! These guys know how to have a good time! About 30 friends of our host took over practically an entire section of the Colombo cricket stadium and bought tickets for and hired a papare band which in this case was made up of trumpets and drums. It was similar in sound to mariachi music, but was definitely its own thing. Cricket band

The whole section was on its feet, dancing and waving flags from start to finish. Wait till you see the video! All of her friends were very friendly, some of them too much so! After about an hour and a half Meg and I moved to another section to take a break and breathe a little fresh air. Cricket is the national sport of Sri Lanka, and they’re a lively bunch. It was such an awesome experience!

Visit http://sundaytimes.lk/110227/Plus/plus_01.html to read more about papare bands and music.

Tomorrow we start on a 7 day trek across much of the nation where we’ll visit projects that the March participants started with small grants from our host organization plus some visit some tourist sites along the way. The projects include an Eye Care Camp, an engagement program for tea plantation community youth, an internet technology program for youths, a health and social program for marginalize sanitary laborers, and the implementation of a youth empowerment program based on the Youth Leadership Initiative’s Democracy Corp.

Our internet access while on the trip will be inconsistent if it exists at all. Please check in on the blog but don’t be surpised if we are incommunicado for a few days. To our loved ones, it’s likely we won’t be able to make any phone calls. We return to Colombo on Saturday, August 15th.

Thanks to everyone for keeping track of us!

Daman

Cricket Match video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxDMN4Hb4Wc .

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