Symbolize Sri Lanka's Promise for the Future

Ambassador Wickramasuriya addresses attendees

The Ambassador of Sri Lanka hosted Ms. Esther Benjamin, her family and friends for dinner recently to recognize Ms. Benjamin’s selection as American University’s School of International Service’s alumna of the year.

Ms. Benjamin, who is a native of Sri Lanka, was welcomed to the April 19 reception by Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya at his residence in Washington, D.C.

The Ambassador noted how proud all Sri Lankans are to see a fellow Sri Lankan achieving success on the international stage. He further mentioned that a former ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, was similarly honored in 2003 by American University, and that Ms. Benjamin may follow in the same foot steps.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya noted that Ms. Benjamin’s represents the reality of harmony in Sri Lanka, an ideal he said is the key to lasting peace there.

“You are a beacon of hope for all Sri Lankans as you take such great leaderships roles in your community and in your professional circles,” the Ambassador said.

Ms. Benjamin addresses attendees

Ms. Benjamin is currently executive director for resource development at the International Partnership for Microbicides. IPM is a non-profit product development partnership (PDP) established in 2002 to prevent HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of a safe and effective microbicide for use by women in developing countries.

Benjamin was also recently a member of President Barack Obama’s presidential transition national security team. Prior to that, Ms. Benjamin was the vice president of business development for the International Youth Foundation. In 1999, President Bill Clinton named Benjamin a White House Fellow. She worked during that period with the U.S. Secretary of Labor on international programs.

Mr. Louis W. Goodman, the Dean of American’s University’s SIS, also praised Ms. Benjamin’s accomplishments.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya with Ms. Benjamin and her family

In her remarks, Ms. Benjamin mentioned that she came from a small village in Sri Lanka, Murunkan, to the United States to continue advanced studies. During her talk she also recalled her village fondly, noting the support it gave her to come to the U.S. to continue her studies.

The ceremony was concluded with a Sri Lankan dinner hosted by the Ambassador.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

29 April 2009

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