Minus 22 Canadian temperature with the windchill factor was no damper for the former graduates of the Kelaniya University of Sri Lanka to attend the 2018 get-together organized by the UKAAC.
Like in the previous years, the party hosted by the University of Kelaniya Alumni Association of Canada (UKAAC), was meticulously organized with lot of entertainment presented by the members and their children. It was heartening to see the kids who are studying in different schools mingling freely and making friends of their own age.
In addition to the usual camaraderie and warmth of our native hospitality there was a table full of home-made fare, forcing us to make several trips to the food stands even before dinner time.
It was encouraging to see Ari Uduwa, back in action after a gap of a few years, in the association activities and the proceedings began with his Powerpoint presentation of our past activities.
One of the most important features was the launching of our own website after a delay of a few years. The main aim of the website is to keep in touch with alumni associations in other parts of the world and Kelaniya university activities. Due to a technical difficulty we could not use the domain name UKAAC. The website now is known as ukaacanada.com.
There was a suggestion to shift the annual party to spring or summer for a better attendance as the icy weather makes travelling cumbersome. It was made by our stalwart Weerasiri Nanayakakara who came all the way from Quebec with his wife Pushpa. He was also present at our alumni cricket tournament which was held in June.
The committee promised to look into the matter. Perhaps, the only reason why it has been scheduled for January may be that many members opt to go for vacation in spring and summer.
We were privileged to meet several new graduates of the university who have migrated to Canada recently. We note with happiness that the new comers are familiar with new technology and having required experience to fit into the Canadian job market without much difficulty. Some who are living in Ottawa were to be present at our get-together but could not make it as travelling was difficult that day due to bad weather.
The annual get-together is always an occasion to showcase the talent of our members and their children. Secretary Anura Kumara Munasinghe sang with his daughter. Anura comes from a family famously connected to arts in Sri Lanka. Perhaps that’s why compere Upali Ranasinghe said in the introduction to the father-daughter duet that “there is no need to sharpen the thorns on the tree”, borrowing from a popular proverb.
Ayesha Chandrarathne entertained with her haunting voice which led some of her to ask why she has not made singing her career. She joined Ravi de Silva, Anura and Mahen Mudalige to sing popular duets. Christie Leonard’s daughter is also a promising singer who sang several songs in addition to a duet. Mahen’s son too sang a few songs. It is encouraging to see children who grow up in Canada go out of their way to keep in touch with their heritage. Shiranthi de Silva is another singer with a beautiful voice and popular on Toronto stage.
Some of our members, Athula Sibera, Rashanthi Thamarasi and Shirathi de Silva also serve as volunteers teaching Sinhala to children growing up in Toronto and the suburbs. Rashanthi also manages a dance school in Toronto and some of her students presented a colourful native dance item.
We did not feel the time passing so quickly while meeting new friends and strengthening our old alliances, talking about former batch mates and those who have departed. Surely, some of us would have left for home with teary eyes, but there is always a next year!