By Sharlene de Chickera
“A child more than all other gifts that Earth can offer to declining man, brings hope with it and forward looking thoughts”…George Eliot
The day was June 2nd 2010. Our mission was to receive 86 school boys from Trincomalee District and host them at Royal College, for a day!
The trip was planned by the Army, in terms of organizing an educational trip to Colombo for a group of students from three schools in the Echchalampattu area in the Tricomalee district.
The main objective of the trip was to enable these students to visit Colombo schools, and gain exposure to the lifestyle and day-to-day activities of their peers, thereby enjoying the peace and harmony established after a 30 year war.
What transpired was building of friendships that would last a life-time and memories that would linger in the heart and mind forever, on both sides.
Our ‘Royal Troops’ were ready at the main gate sharp at 8.30 a.m. on the appointed day! The Oriental band was dressed in their finery and the prefects smartly lined-up. The staff of RCU was also part of the colorful parade.
The much awaited day was about to begin…
The battalion of faces came forward…in rows of two’s and three’s…our hearts sank a little…their shy smiles showed courage, but we observed instantly that they were in need of more than friendship. They were in need of material things that our sons of Royal took for granted. Every day!
The band struck up their music and started their dance, and set off the parade to the main hall. We all followed, behind the Army personnel, teachers, prefects and invitees. Once in the hall the customary speeches were made. The Principal of Royal College embraced the invitees like his own brood at Royal College. Mr. Rizan Nazeer, the Secretary of the Royal College Union, bonded with the boys from Trinco, addressing them in their spoken language, Tamil.
The visitors felt welcome and were inspired and awed to be in such a grand hall.
Next was bonding time. Our boys and their boys, exchanged names, and colored bands. And with genuine intention, ingenuity and friendship, used the fantastic layout of Royal College, to create events, games and fun for the rest of the day.
The first session included games. These brought out the ‘child’ and competitive spirit in everyone. Some won, some lost, but what was more important was how the game was played. The spirit of Royal College was burning a flame in the hearts of our visitors. Did they dream of studying here? I am sure they did. For I also dream that dream…
Next they created a banner. A token that was unique, a symbol of friendship and creativity. Something to remember their presence and foot-prints at Royal College. This creative task was captured by the cameras of ‘YA-TV’, and while the electronic eye captured the details, the experience was already embedded in the hearts and minds.
Having worked up a healthy appetite with all the fun and games, it was time for lunch. And the hostel Warden had done justice to the request by serving a truly delicious Royal banquet. We enjoyed the lunch and dessert to the maximum, and we also appreciated the hospitality very much.
The next session in the water at the pool-side was a treat for our guests. It was a sheer delight to observe their fun and frolic in the Royal College swimming pool. The boys from Trinco took the plunge like Ducks taking to water, and really enjoyed the time spent in the pool.
The evening witnessed plays which were symbolic in terms of social themes, and also health themes such as Dengue, which were enacted in Tamil, but were understood by all in terms of gesture and nuance. Special mention should be made of the skit which had elaborate costumes such as wigs, and the boys dressed up as girls were an added laugh.
They memorable day came to an end with more speeches, this time ‘teary’ and giving of gifts. But what was given and received was life, laughter and the exuberance of youth which would be crystallized in the memories of those who participated in the events of June 4th.
Well done Prefects, you have upheld your badge of honor and rallied round the College flag with your seniors, to layout the carpet of warm friendship and dish out the best treat to your young friends. We thank Mr. Rizan for creating an opportunity like this out of the blue for all of us to show our hospitality and learn gratitude and be humble for all the blessings we have received at Royal College.
Let us remember the smiles and cheer. Who says that hopes, dreams and wishes of youth have several languages? We are one brotherhood and we live under the aegis of the Lion Flag.