The initiative event of the project “Confluence” has been successfully conducted by the Faculty of Arts, the University of Jaffna under the purview of Prof.S.Raguram, Dean, Faculty of Arts, immense contribution of the Heads and Academic Staff and Students of the selected disciplines. Mr.S.Nirosan, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy and Mrs.P.Suveedda, Lecturer, (Prob.), Department of Economics have been appointed to coordinate the event.
The Department of International Studies, University of Kelaniya came up with the proposal for the cultural exchange research program ‘Confluence’ which is organized with the collective effort of the Embassy of Switzerland and the Office for Reparations to make an interaction platform for the undergraduate from both Universities.
The objectives of this project are to recognize the crucial role of young people in challenging moments and aim to bridge cultural divisions, facilitate meaningful dialogue, and foster a more inclusive and cohesive society. The expected deliverable outcome would be building a developing a policy framework at both universities with the assistance of consultants.
As part of the project, fifty students and three academic staff from the Department of International Studies, University of Kelaniya visited the Faculty of Arts, University of Jaffna on the 3rd of August, 2023, and engaged in the following activities from 8.30 Am to 8.30 Pm, with the selected department students of Economics, History, Media Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology, and Translation Studies:
A poster presentation along with an ice-breaker session on potential topics related to peacebuilding and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
- A dialogue between students and a broader round table discussion involving both university lecturers and undergraduates to explore possible solutions.
- A Cultural Night to celebrate the rich diversity of our cultures and promote mutual understanding.
- Discussed the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University of Kelaniya and the University of Jaffna for a student exchange program to foster continuous assessment of the project’s impact.
Further, as per the request of the University of Kelaniya, fifty students of Level III from the above-mentioned disciplines have been selected for the sessions and cultural programs. For the poster presentation, below mentioned fourteen topics have been utilized with the fourteen groups and each group contains an equal number of students participating from both universities.
- Interfaith Dialogue for Peace: Promoting religious harmony and understanding among different faith communities in Sri Lanka.
- Reconciliation through the Arts: Exploring the role of music, dance, and visual arts in fostering peace and unity.
- Healing the Wounds of War: Initiatives for trauma healing and psychological rehabilitation in post-conflict Sri Lanka.
- Women’s Empowerment for Peace: Highlighting the contribution of women in peacebuilding and gender equality efforts.
- Sustainable Development for Peace: Examining the link between environmental conservation, economic growth, and peacebuilding.
- Youth Engagement in Peacebuilding: Youth-led initiatives for promoting peace, tolerance, and dialogue.
- Restorative Justice and Peace: Exploring alternative approaches to justice that focus on reconciliation and rebuilding relationships.
- Education for Peace: Innovative educational programs and initiatives promoting peace, human rights, and intercultural understanding.
- Media and Peacebuilding: The role of media in promoting dialogue, countering hate speech, and fostering reconciliation.
- Sports for Peace: Exploring the potential of sports in bridging divides, promoting teamwork, and fostering peace.
- Building Trust in Communities: Strategies for rebuilding trust and social cohesion in post-conflict Societies.
- Grassroot Peace building: Community-based initiatives and local peacebuilding efforts in Sri Lanka.
- Restoring Cultural Heritage: Preserving and reviving cultural traditions as a means of fostering peace and preserving identity.
- Peaceful Coexistence in Multi-ethnic Societies: Promoting social integration and inclusivity in diverse communities for sustainable peace.
In the round table discussion, there were six academic staff members from both universities shared their insights regarding the questions and clarifications from the students and took initiatives toward policy designing on the particular topics.
The cultural night had several programs that were done by the students from both universities and were mainly organized to reveal the cultural and traditional aspects respectively.
The event and other initiatives have been designed to create a bridge between South and North with the understanding of each other, effective interaction to make ethnic harmony and create a platform to building peace and ethnic reconciliation. Accordingly, both university students had crucial opportunities through this event, and hope this will bring further exposure to living with diversity.