Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya meets with Dr. Jon Butler, dean of graduate studies, Yale University.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, met recently with Yale University faculty members to discuss student exchange programs and a possible exhibition of Sri Lankan art and artifacts in an American museum.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya was invited to Yale, one of the United States’ most prestigious universities, by faculty members who study Pali and Buddhism in Yale’s Department of Religious Studies. The Ambassador met on April 16 with Professors Phyllis Granoff, Mimi Yiengpruksawan, Osmund Bopearachchi and Koichi Shinohara.

The group had invited the Ambassador to discuss possible joint programs between Yale and universities in Sri Lanka. They stressed the rich nature of Sri Lanka’s 2,500-written history and culture, and suggested that it was not well known or fully appreciated in this part of the world.

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya chats with Sri Lanka students attending Yale University.

Professor  Bopearachchi is a Sri Lanka native who is currently teaching at Yale and conducting archeological work in Sri Lanka.

In addition, the Ambassador took part in a separate meeting with Dr. Jon Butler, dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Howard R. Lamar Professor of American Studies, History and Religious Studies. They discussed an exchange program for graduate and PhD students, to be funded by Yale.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya also met with18 undergraduate, graduate and PhD students at Yale, 12 of whom are from Sri Lanka.

“I was heartened to see the enthusiasm of the Sri Lankan students, both for their studies and for events occurring right now back home,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “And I was also delighted to find scholars here at Yale who are so enthusiastic about Sri Lanka’s history and culture. These proposed programs will help them explore Sri Lanka more deeply.”

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya with Yale University faculty members (left to right):  Dr. Osmund Bopearachchi, Ambassador Wickramasuriya, Dr. Koichi Shinohara, Dr. Phyllis Granoff, Dr.  Mimi Yiengpruksawan and Dr. A.P. Ganepola (a private doctor).

In particular, Ambassador Wickramasuriya and the Yale professors discussed the possibility of student exchanges beginning in the summer of 2011.

Professor Phyllis Granoff of Yale’s Department of Religious Studies also raised the possibility of an exhibit of Sri Lankan art at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Professor Granoff said that Yale had recently completed an exhibit of JAIN art, and that discussions had already begun on an exhibit focused on works from Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador pledged Sri Lanka’s full support to the effort and noted that it would give U.S. citizens the chance to share in Sri Lanka’s culture.

Professor Bopearachchi, who usually teaches at the Paris Sorbonne University, would take part in the selection of items in Sri Lanka that would be part of such an exhibit, she said.

Professor Bopearachchi was in part responsible for facilitating the meeting between the Ambassador and Yale faculty. So, too, was Dr. A.P. Ganepola, a New Jersey cancer surgeon and Sri Lanka native who is active in the Sri Lankan community in the U.S.

Discussions about the exchange programs and art exhibit are set to continue.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

23 April 2010


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