“Ayubowan” To All – The warmth and love of Sri Lanka are beyond words! “Ayubowan” is the word used in Sri Lanka to greet someone. It means Long Life. One is generally greeted by joining two hands in a prayer-like manner and saying “Ayubowan”. During the 2018 Annual Volunteer Meet, AFS India invited 2 representatives, Dr. Eshantha Ariyadasa, Director General and I P S N Senarath (Sara), Coordinating Secretary of Sputnik International Education Centre to India to attend the Meet and get a chance to interact with AFS India volunteers.

After attending the meet in India, Dr. Eshantha shared, “It was such a rewarding opportunity to create and promote friendly relations between our brotherly nations. Your volunteers are an exemplary example for my beloved Mahatma Gandhi’s saying “Be the change you want to see in the world”. You not only inspired us but also proved to be the true and meaningful conveyors of the message “AFS is love and AFS is brotherhood”. “To further develop and strengthen the relationship between India and Sri Lanka, AFS India and Sputnik International facilitated an International Volunteers Exchange Program from 16th to 22nd September 2019. A group of 4 volunteers went on exchange to Sri Lanka with full enthusiasm and excitement.

AFS India offers the Volunteers Exchange Program to its Volunteers as an expression of gratitude for their contribution and commitment to AFS. It aims to motivate volunteers to be active and contribute further to AFS activities stimulating further Volunteer and Chapter development. Through the exchange between India-Sri Lanka, AFS India volunteers got an opportunity to gain a stronger understanding of India-Sri Lanka Relations while discovering the culture and traditions in a beautiful way. “SPUTNIK” is a well-equipped Japanese Campus situated in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka. It is affiliated to KAKE Educational Institution in Japan, which is recognized as the largest educational institution in western Japan.

Sputnik International went above and beyond from the planning to the implementation phase to support the program so that the objective of the same could be reached. The week-long program consisted of School Visits, Religious & Cultural Excursions, Traditional Food Party, Community Service and exploration of various cultural aspects of Sri Lanka. These volunteers were hosted in the guest house provided by the Sputnik International as well as host families throughout their stay. In the words of one of the volunteers – “I was floored by their hospitality. People who were total strangers becoming lifelong friends in a few days can happen only through such exchanges. “He further adds, “I have been a host dad (with AFS) for two years and this time I could experience what my host children would have experienced when they stayed with us. Thank you AFS India! I shall cherish this memory forever.” Similarly, another volunteer shares, “Even though we were meeting them for the first time in this visit, I experienced the great love in relationships.”

This successful exchange has motivated us even more in the lines where we can work with external collaborators and partners, and initiate programs to advance AFS’s mission in India and neighbouring countries. This will not only lead to cultural learning but also expand the visibility of AFS as a whole leading to a full new spectrum and arenas of involvement and quality expansion.

AFS India is proud and happy to have collaborated with Sri Lanka to make this exchange a huge success! We’re thankful to Dr. Eshantha and the wonderful volunteers of Sputnik International for hosting AFS India volunteers and opening their homes and hearts for a beautiful exchange.