My Ice Breaker speach this March

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Life is no candle for me.

It’s the sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment

and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible

before handing it on to future generations

 — George Bernard Shaw —

My name is Nadeeja and it means born in the river. It wasn’t the case though – I was born during the height of insurgencies in 1971 – it was a good thing they managed to get my mother  back to Colombo.

I had a fortunate childhood but not a cushy or comfortable life. My father worked for the Irrigation Dept and my mother tagged along as he moved post from Kurunegala to Tissamaharama and then to Madawachchiya. At the time I was born we were in Tissa. A child remembers many things from her early days – and I remember great Magohosa trees, thorny shrubs and beautiful weeds,  tanks, bunds, pagodas  and most of all black monkeys!

Unknowingly my parents left in me an incredible thirst for travel and exploration – exploration of nature and people. Can you guess where I like to end up in any of these explorations? In the water ways, be it a stream, river, pond, lake, water fall, natural pool, hot water spring, the sea – you name it – water mesmerizes me. So it’s true in a way that I was born in the river. I can tell you dozens of places with well known names, it would only sound as if I am bragging. But this much I tell you, the best places are the quiet locations only known to the villagers.

This brings me to the other interest of my life – people. I am a ‘people person’,  I can relate to different types of people. I think it’s a great privilege – I meet them without any prejudice. I can listen to any number of view- points without getting them entangled with those of my own. I actually discovered this only recently – and I want to make use of this trait in me. I may have developed this while I was a teacher. This was my first job. I taught Information and Communication Technology for ten years.  Something that  I learnt in teaching was that every kida is talented and had something special about him/her. It need not be excellence in academics.

Through the years I learnt to empathize with the rest of my gender – and one wish I have for Sri Lanka is a society where women are recognized more for their contribution. Recently I got involved in a blog called ‘Beyond16Days’. It is an open forum for abused women. What I read on this blog is no different from the reality. Though Sri Lanka has a proud history, culture and lovely  traditions our society  has completely lost its bearing on values.  We need to change our attitude toward women so that we give them their due respect, empower them and not allow any discrimination. I know this is very, very hard. If I can make a change even in a small way then, I will be happy.

So, Life is no candle for me

I’ve been the good daughter, wife and mother; progressed to being  a teacher shedding light for  some smart, bright ‘knobs’, got myself educated too a BSc, and an MBA and I feel I got to carry the torch further

Life is sort of a splendid torch

Books are the joy of my -I truly believe – Reading maketh a full man. This is why I would like to study further. I have a strong urge to enhance my knowledge. I like to be equipped with adequate know-how to face the many challenges of life.

I am a programmer by profession, a designer by choice and an IT manager by chance. I don’t want to delve into much of the details. In a nutshell, I love to design web sites, I have to code to make it work and apart from web sites and databases, it has turned out  to be part of my duty to manage people and processes. The latter takes most of my time these days – and I am not very happy about it. But the good thing is I am three persons rolled up in one – I am an artist, a thinker and a manager – its the culmination of all my skills. And I think it’s really great. I didn’t enjoy this level of accomplishment when I was a teacher.

During my leisure I try to spend time with the artist inside me. I love photography  however  it’s a hobby that is still in it’s infancy. I use photos to do ‘digi scrapping’ – a form of scrapbooking with digital images. When these collages are absolutely perfect I get them printed in 10×10 inches and surprise my family. I’ve done nearly one every month for the past two years.  They are such lovely memoires.

I love Maths – I know half the world hates maths and I surprise people by saying this. I find Maths very sensible – equations are thrilling to solve and geometry is just amazing. My attitude to this subject helped me think analytically – it’s not the As and Bs you get for your exams – if you like something and you labour over it – you get benefits – not merely entrance to University. You get the thinking power for solving problems.

People think being good in maths is a sign of intelligence. This is rubbish! I feel sorry for those who have difficulties with numbers – because they may be considered not so smart. Here’s the second thing I learnt through my teaching career. There are seven forms of intelligence, not just one but seven ways! Linguist skills, Logical and Mathematical skills, Bodily-Kinesthetic skills, Musical, Spatial ( images and pictures), Interpersonal (good at communicating), Intrapersonal (good at identifying ones own feelings)

So when I’m asked for good advice on rearing children – I say let them be what they want to be – to do something all your life you need to love it – right? Our job is to help our kids become who they are supposed to be and not what we think they should be.

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