Dream big! | Daily News

Dream big!

S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya
Head Boy of  S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya, Pankaja Weerasekara
Head Boy of S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya, Pankaja Weerasekara

Young as he is, Head Boy of S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya, Pankaja Weerasekara is able to navigate the terrain of politics adroitly. Perfect Prefects features Weerasekara who is not afraid to dream big.

As Weerasekara puts it, somewhere on the other side of the world or even in our own country there are people who battle it out to survive and live another day, with no clean water, with very little food to eat and with minimum or no sanitary facilities and with no place to call ‘Home’ or no parents to go to comfort for.

“I find it very difficult to comprehend that while we are living in the safety of our homes, with the love of our parents and siblings and receiving the top education and facilities, somewhere out in the world there are ongoing wars, families being tortured, broken apart and butchered mercilessly, girls not being able to go to school or read books. The consequences of war against extremist groups such as ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and dictators such as Mohamad Gadhafi, Saddam Hussain have destroyed countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Libya and many more. Both the human loss and property damage is immeasurable. I find it really disgusting looking at the Defense Budget allocations of some countries, thinking about how useful it would have been if all this money was spent in the right way and not to recreate and fuel the issues in the world. Even in the Asian region the never-ending Kashmir border battle between India and Pakistan and the recent dispute in the Ladakh region between India and China are prime examples for the growing tensions in the world between countries.

Pakistan has been and was recently again accused of harboring and funding nearly 30,000 state terrorists. It is a well-known fact that the LTTE terrorists were nurtured in India with the influence of its central government. The CIA in the US is controversially known to keep ties with terrorists for their personal agenda and dispose them as soon as it is complete. This is the kind of twisted politics that govern the world. This is a result of the battle for supreme power among the countries. The United Nations on the other hand works towards the sustainable development goals and resolving these issues but they mostly turn a blind eye to issues directly involving the influence of powerful countries. A highly funded organization such as the United Nations has so much more potential and resources at their disposal to address these issues in a much stronger way than its current influence. The war on drugs is equally important as the war on terror, as it has consumed many a youth and ruined the lives of a huge amount of people. Another well discussed topic is ‘Climate Change’ and although many discussions take place, we rarely see anything of the sort being implemented. The Governments of many countries are too busy running behind their own political problems that they turn a blind eye towards these major issues. Even when an NGO or any other party starts reacting positively to these issues they are quickly overcome by politicization and slowly but surely loses its objective,” explains Weerasekara.

He explains further that he is a person who is not afraid to dream big and it’s just one person that is needed to make a huge difference and history has proven so. He points out that great change was made possible by small, barely unnoticeable changes.

“In society a great many people are self-centered, selfish and ignorant. The difference I would like to make in society is to change these thinking patterns into being unselfish and selfless. Most importantly you should be well informed of what is going on around you. It’s as simple as putting someone you love and care for in front of yourself. It’s not that hard to make a change in one’s life and I believe that each and every human being is capable of making such a change.

I would like to think that I have made a change no matter how small to the people around me, but I definitely feel I still have a long way to go when it comes to making sweeping changes,” pointed out Weerasekara

Weerasekara further added that the answer to all these issues he raised is not development alone but is rather a change of mentality in the people. Of course, all parties will never share the same perspective but it’s important to reach a common ground regarding these issues. That is where the UN and world governments need to work for the greater good and the betterment of humanity and they should not be driven by personal and political agendas.

“I have always been keen on getting into a state university and studying Law after my advanced levels. I also find politics very intriguing and I think it is absolutely necessary to increase the youth participation in the democratic process of our country by creating a better platform for educated, novice youth to rise to the challenge. I’m also very interested in the Foreign Diplomatic Service which is a hugely challenging responsibility as it represents Sri Lanka in the eyes of the international community and manages all international relations. I hope that someday I will be able to represent my country as a diplomat and work closely with the UN and other foreign countries and bring honor to my country. My childhood dream has been to join the military. I have always been curious about the military and defense studies from a very young age. One thing I am certain about is that I will never leave my motherland but will try and serve it always and give my best in the career path I choose,” stated Weerasekara.

Dream big he says and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise! Get as many experiences as possible in your school life, get involved in many things as possible, attempt new things and test your boundaries! Invest time and energy in others, not expecting anything in return, and you’ll be surprised with what awaits you at the end.

“Always believe in yourself and never give up on something. Always finish what you started even if you don’t get the help or resources you were promised or you’d hoped for. Give your maximum to something even when you know you won’t get recognized for it, just do it for the love of it and for the passion of it. Be yourself and people will eventually accept you,” said Weerasekara.

One leader he greatly admires is the current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who ended the LTTE terrorism in our country. He accomplished what others before him failed to do. We as Sri Lankans are forever in debt to this great leader and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the then Secretary of Defense points out Weerasekara.

“Even when immense international pressure from the US and other countries were mounting, he was determined to end the Civil War. Numerous pro-LTTE human rights activists and the Tamil Diaspora tried their level best to thwart him, and are making false allegations against Sri Lanka and its armed forces, trying to paint a rosy picture of the LTTE as Freedom Fighters in the eyes of the international community. As the President of our country he defended our sovereignty and was very diplomatic with these issues. Even after he was reelected, he continued to rebuild the infrastructure and brought immense development to the Northern and Eastern Provinces as well as for the whole country. As any leader he wasn’t perfect and had his own shortcomings which was used for political gains by different parties, but I dread to think what would have happened to this nation if he did not become president,”He has always admired Former President of the US Barack Obama, whose down to earth behavior has never ceased to impress Weerasekara, considering the fact that Obama was the most powerful person in the world.

“His own unique way of speaking to people and crowds is truly very touching and memorable with a hint of humor as well. He reappeared on the political stage recently while campaigning for the elect-president Joe Biden and it reminded many of what a truly remarkable leader he was.

He delivered a speech after he was selected as the democratic nominee in 2008, where he adopted the stance of unifying all races of people under the ‘United States of America’.

It was a very touching moment for many Americans and people all around the world. Even I, who watched it on YouTube many years later still felt the power and uniqueness of that speech,” pointed out Weerasekara.

He points out that he is greatly privileged to have two great parents who have been the two pillars of strength in his life. His little brother too is very supportive and having a very supportive family is one of the main reasons he has been able to balance his work. Last but not least he thanked his teachers and said that he is forever grateful to the two Headmasters N.Y. Casie Chetty and Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo.