By Nandi Jasentuliyana
The author is a former Deputy Director-General United Nations and Director of the UN Office for Outer space Affairs.
LOS ANGELES, USA (IDN) — An awards ceremony recognizing those in the Sri Lankan expatriate community whose work has had an essential impact on the lives of others has taken place since 2003.
Described as one the most prestigious awards among Sri Lankan expatriates the world over, the awards ceremony makes awardees feel that their work is valued.
It shows approval and gratitude for their creativity and outstanding achievements and makes the broader community of Sri Lankans aware of their accomplishments. Most importantly, it serves to inspire the younger generation to achieve excellence in their chosen fields.
The Sri Lanka Foundation International awards ceremony is an event that takes place annually thanks to the vision and generous support of the founder and Chairman of the Board of the Foundation, Dr Walter Jayasinghe, ably supported by its Vice President, Aesha Jayasinghe.
The awards are given in six categories in order to recognize the awardees at different stages of their work and careers, including Junior Awards for the outstanding young achievers who have proved themselves to be on their way to achieving greatness as encouragement for them to continue to excel.
Among the recipients of the lifetime achievement award at the inaugural award ceremony in 2003 were Dr Sarath Gunapala, who has had a distinguished career at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories, being an outstanding scientist responsible for several instruments flown into space, including the Mars Rover.
The following year, among the lifetime achievement winners, was Dr Ananda Guruge, an outstanding scholar, author, diplomat, historian, and professor.
Since then, winners have been world-renowned inventors, scientists, physicians, lawyers, engineers, academics, entrepreneurs, musicians, and artists such as Rohan De. Saram, perhaps the best-known Sri Lankan Musician abroad, Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Professor Emeritus of Global Health Institute, Imperial College London, who was the President of the British Medical Association and President of the Royal College of Gynaecologists in the U.K.
Others include Professor Malik Peiris, Professor of Public Health Laboratory Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Life Science Prize Laureate for his discoveries of SARS-CoV-1, with impact on combating Covid-19 and emerging infectious diseases.
Among this year’s winners are Bhante Dr Henepola Gunaratna, international Buddhist missionary and author of over a dozen books, and Dr Yasantha Rajakarunanayake, a pathbreaking inventor in the IT and AI field holding 95 U.S. patents, including the Android and iPhone operating chips
The winners are selected by an anonymous Board of Distinguished members. Grounded on a range of all-around evaluation criteria, they carry out the arduous task of going over the submissions of the nominees that are voluminous and make the difficult selection between “the best of the best.”
The Sri Lanka Foundation annual awards ceremony has been held for nearly two decades at the prestigious Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles, California, organized by the staff of the Foundation Ms Shirani Stanislaus, CEO; Ms Keshini Wijegoonerathna, Director, Project Management.; Ms Achala Weerasinghe, Director, Cultural Affairs; and Mr Chamodh Amarasinghe, Media Director; headed by its President, Dr Dishan Jayasinghe.
The awards are widely recognized and warmly saluted by the outstanding winners, who have not only achieved recognition among their peers but also made a significant contribution to society at large through their work. Among the winners, many have already won recognition at the national and international levels.
Regardless of their achievements, the awardees have something essential in common—they truly serve as role models for the younger generation of Sri Lankans, and that is the essence of the awards ceremony. [IDN-InDepthNews — 01 November 2022]
Image: Sri Lanka Foundation
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