St Peter’s alumni family supports students in Sri Lanka

St Peter’s alumni family supports students in Sri Lanka

Photo credit: St Peter’s College, Colombo 

Continuing the efforts started 10 years ago, St Peter’s College Old Boys Union (OBU) Sydney NSW will once again raise much-needed funds for underprivileged students in Sri Lanka at their popular dinner dance event, Magical Memories 2018.

Commemorating and celebrating the strong friendships formed among alumni of all ages, Peterites will come together on July 28 in support of their school and provide full and part scholarships to children, enabling them to continue their studies without financial stress.

President of St Peter’s OBU Sydney Mr Amal Wahab said these scholarships are great way for alumni to thank the school for bringing students together as a family, in both education and sport.

In 2018, Peterites were able to raise enough money to provide 18 full and three part scholarships to students in Sri Lanka, but the committee hopes to grow that to 50 in the coming years.

“We started the scholarship fund because we, as alumni, wanted to show our appreciation towards the school.”

“We are trying to create an atmosphere in our events where people will want to come for more functions, meet one another and continue to help college in any way they can,” Mr Wahab said.

The Sydney chapter organises a number of other events for their database of over 300 Peterites, including a picnic, cricket tournaments against rival alumni associations, and a Christmas party at the end of the year.

Peterites are also working alongside their sister school Holy Family Convent to host a memorial mass in November in memory of students who have passed away.

In many of the major cities in Australia, there are over 20 Sri Lankan alumni associations like St Peter’s OBU which assist expatriate Sri Lankans in connecting with some of their childhood friends who have also moved overseas.

Mr Wahab said the OBU chapters allow for everyone around the world to stay in contact with their St Peter’s family. Last year, he attended a global reunion for St Peter’s alumni in Sri Lanka, which marked the association’s 90th anniversary, as well as the 95th anniversary of the college.

However, informal meet-ups similar to this occur frequently for members around the world.

“Last year, in anticipation of me visiting Canada, I had connected with a classmate over social media, who I hadn’t met since leaving school in 1973,” Mr Wahab said.

“We organised to meet, along with eight others in Toronto, and it was as though we had never lost contact because we just picked up from where we left off all those years ago.

“Schools like St Peter’s act as an extended family that you become a part of.”

There are over 130,000 people of Sri Lankan ancestry living in Australia and the community continues to grow at a rate of 18 per cent. Victoria currently has the highest Sri Lankan population with over 70,000, followed by New South Wales and Queensland with over 30,000 and 10,000 respectively.

Alumni associations from over 28 private schools in Sri Lanka act as an anchor for members of the diaspora of around 3 million people to remain connected to their country of heritage as well as pass on their strong family culture to second generation Sri Lankan diaspora.

Melbourne’s Virosh Perera attended St Joseph’s College in Sri Lanka, St Peter’s’ Big Match cricket rivals, and he said alumni associations such as theirs act as a continuation of childhood memories and friendships.

“We have grown as a family there, so when we move overseas, a lot of people don’t know many others, so we go to these school alumni events to feel part of that family again,” he said.

“The spirit is always very high when we come together, it’s a great feeling and experience when we see our schoolmates coming together in one place many miles away from where we met.”

As part of their Good Act Program, Woolworths WISH Gift Cards are kindly supporting the St Peter’s OBU Sydney Magical Memories Dinner Dance 2018 by donating $750 worth of gift cards to be won as prizes at the event.

The executive committee of the St Peter’s OBU Sydney chapter have helped develop the association into an active, well-diversified group of Old Peterites. Special acknowledgement goes to Amal Wahab, Senarath Seneviratne, Shiran Viswasam, Hamish Fernando, Ravin Pannambalana, Mario Saparamado, Niran Wijesiri, Roshara Alles, Shanika Abeygunaratne, Niresh Wijesari, Lawrie Machado, Denver Mottau, Nishantha Perera, Maxi Victoria, Gerard Velayuthen, Senani Gunasekera, Rojith De Silva, Harsha Weerakkody and Nipuna Dias.

Anisha Mistry

As the Editor of CulturalPulse, Anisha is passionate about listening to, writing and sharing stories of Australia's multicultural achievement. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]