Renewing ties with School of Arts & Social Sciences (SASS) Alumni in Sri Lanka

This year, I joined the Monash University Malaysia contingent to Sri Lanka for the Application Day event held on Sunday, 17 September 2017 at the Grand Cinnamon Resort Hotel situated in central Colombo. Since the last time I was in Sri Lanka was 14 years ago for an international conference, I relished the opportunity of returning to a place that has strong historical and socio-cultural ties with Malaysia.

The evening before Application Day, an alumni gathering was convened at the nearby Movenpick Hotel.  Organised by the Monash University Sri Lankan Alumni Chapter (MUSAC), more than 100 alumni from the Malaysian campus and the Clayton campus graced the event. President and Pro Vice-Chancellor (interim) of Monash University Malaysia, Professor Andrew Walker welcomed the alumni and said he was delighted to be in Sri Lanka since this is his maiden visit to the country.  

The guest speaker was Ms Clarinda Jayewardene, a Monash alumnus of the Caufield campus, who shared her experiences of being a director of two leading companies in Sri Lanka. This was followed by the highlight of the evening; the election of the incoming committee for MUSAC. 

SASS Sri Lanka alumni

A small number of SASS alumni were present at the gathering. I am happy to say that I recognised most of them although I could not quite remember all of their names. Besides learning about where they were gainfully employed, they regaled me with amusing tales of their time in Monash University Malaysia. Some could even remember the exact name of the units they took so many years ago, and relate their continued intellectual relevance to their careers in international development agencies, research centres, colleges, and magazine companies.

On Monday (18 September), two of the SASS alumni, Lihini Ratwatte (BA Global; 2014) and Savani Jayasooriya (BA Global; 2012) organized a lunch meet-up with some SASS alumni who could not attend the Saturday event. After lunch, I was enthusiastically guided by Lihini and Savani for a whistle stop tour around various places of worship and heritage spots in Colombo.

We ended the day sipping drinks at the colonial Galle Face Hotel. Situated on the beachfront facing the expansive Indian Ocean where maritime trading networks have been plied for centuries, we similarly envisioned of the myriad possibilities that the growing network of SASS alumni scattered around the world will foment in the years ahead.

By Dr Yeoh Seng Guan