Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha hosted a virtual meeting with the heads of the Sri Lanka community Associations and Representatives from Sri Lankan places of religious worship in the Greater Washington D.C. area on 16 December 2020. The meeting afforded the new Ambassador an opportunity to take stock of the work they are doing and how the Embassy could support these endeavors, as well as to enlist their cooperation in pursuing Sri Lanka’s political, economic & socio- cultural interests in the USA.
The Sri Lankans who joined this virtual meeting included representatives from the Sri Lanka Association, Sri Lanka Ranga Kala Kavaya, Kala Lanka Foundation, Ape Kattiya, Friends of Sri Lanka in the US, Educate Lanka, Sri Lanka-America Friendship Foundation, the Association of Sri Lanka Muslims, the Catholic Association, Patriots for United Sri Lanka, Unity Lanka, and the Serendipity Group – based in Washington D.C. and Virginia and Maryland States. The group reflected the plurality of Sri Lanka in the US, and included professionals, entrepreneurs, social workers, philanthropists and former public officials.
All diplomatic officers in the mission joined the meeting, and were introduced in terms of the specific focus of their work and its relation to OSLs in the USA.
Ambassador Aryasinha appreciated their keeping Sri Lankan socio-cultural practices alive far away from home, and the charitable causes in Sri Lanka their organizations have contributed to over the years - benefitting rural children and women in particular in the field of education and livelihood. He appreciated their support in raising funds to help Sri Lankans affected by the COVID 19 pandemic in more recent times. He also recalled the support these groups have lent in the past in helping the Embassy in political and economic advocacy related work, and in linking up with overseas Sri Lankans across the U.S., including when he last served in the USA in 2002-2006.
The community representatives while welcoming the Ambassador back to the capital, shared the work each of their organizations/places of religious worship was engaged in and assured him their fullest cooperation in helping leverage the strength of the community to serve Sri Lanka. The need to reach out to the young Overseas Sri Lankans in a manner beneficial to their professional and personal wellbeing was highlighted by several organizations, and modalities to do so were discussed. Several in the group requested the Embassy to facilitate the engagement of Sri Lankan students/young professionals in the US, in economic and volunteer work in Sri Lanka, through short term scholarships/attachments to be funded by the community, with assistance from the Embassy in finding suitable placements. With respect to economic matters, it was agreed to make known to the community the business opportunities that were available in Sri Lanka for expatriates, and also areas of interest to Sri Lanka in the US, where their engagement could be profitable. The need to re-establish a Pan US organization of Overseas Sri Lankans was also discussed.