On a razor’s edge | Daily News
Asian International School

On a razor’s edge

Nishita Wijeratne. Pictures by Sarath Peiris
Nishita Wijeratne. Pictures by Sarath Peiris

When your leadership is balanced on a knife edge, it takes a strong leader to rise to the occasion. It is this quality that Head Girl of Asian International School Nishita Wijeratne possesses. Perfect Prefect features Nishita Wijeratne, a combination of humility and self- assurance.

“I work well under pressure. When we need to lead people, it is usually at a swimming meet or such an event. So there is a lot of people who need you to do a lot of different things. There is a lot of pressure, so you need to be able to bear that pressure. So you need to have a clear mindset and for that you need to be able to delegate duties and know what you are doing as well. So I think I work really well under pressure. The fact that I can bear pressure well, allows me to continue to lead and I don’t crack under pressure,” said Wijeratne

Great strength

Wijeratne does not function alone. Her fellow Head Prefect is her ally along with their efficient Prefect Guild. The power of two is indeed a great strength to her.

“Before implementing a decision I always discuss it with my fellow Head Boy as well as the student counsellor and Prefects. So there are many people putting in their opinions as well. I respect the opinion of my fellow Head Boy, and he respects my opinion and we actually work really well together,” stated Wijeratne.

Though a competent leader she recognizes that we are all human and that we all make mistakes. However this does not stop her from executing a plan of action to perfection.

“When facing a particularly difficult situation or problem what I do is break off from it. You are not going to get a problem without a solution. You won’t get a locked door without a key. Sometimes you need to take a break and step away from it and look at it with a fresh mindset. The minute you do that you might see things you did not notice before. It is not like it is the end of the world. You need to know that and you need to take a step back and realize that everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes and you need to go about fixing it. It is not going to be perfect but sometimes it just needs to be done,” explained Wijeratne.

Asian International School was where she was nurtured and brought up. AIS was where she learnt her lessons in life. It is where her character was molded.

Smallest things

“One thing at AIS is, yes we are taught academically and our teachers speak to us about life lessons. When I joined AIS, I was new to school and was pretty much an outsider but everyone came together for me and were supportive. Everyone supports you no matter what happens, and I came from Australia and I was not familiar with the set up here. Because the setup there was quite different.

But when I came here everyone made me feel so welcome. When I joined school I was really afraid of the smallest things but I remember this child gave me a book, and she told me study it. She gave me her book and then she failed the test. That kind of support is always going to be here at AIS. That is one thing I learnt. So everyone will back you up, you just got to be there to back them up as well. And that kind of support gets you a long way. That is one thing AIS has taught me. I know if ever I have an issue I am not alone because I have my Prefects guild. I have my Head boy to back me up. Coming from Australia the kids never alienated me. So that was a plus point,” elucidated Wijeratne.

Asian International School is a tight knit community where there have been no serious issues of indiscipline. The school is known for its unity and the students have impeccable character. The school is an example of brotherhood and sisterhood. Wijeratne answered a hypothetical question – what would she do if she came across a case of bullying.

“We have a club called TASLAH (Take A Stand Lend A Hand), so when we come across cases of bullying, I believe the best thing to do is to talk to a teacher. If the bullying is really intense then you need to talk about it. Sometimes you need to bring it up with an adult. You need to take it up with an adult, if it is going on for a long time. You need to talk to the kid and see if they are ok and ask them how they feel. 

Maybe just lend a hand. You need to be a friend to the smaller ones. After a while they look up to you, so you need to make yourself approachable. Make them know there is someone they can talk to. Sometimes you may need to talk to the bully and see if you can get through to them since they themselves may be dealing with difficult issues in life. You may need to talk to both parties separately. But as a prefect the first thing you do is stop it. So the first thing you need to do is make yourself approachable and get through to the two parties. Try and get them to open up to you by asking very basic questions. Sometimes when you talk about something you feel better about it. Then you can give the victim a piece of advice with small words of encouragement and about standing up,” pointed out Wijeratne.

No doubt Wijeratne’s interpersonal skills have enabled her to be of assistance to a friend who was in need.

“I was in TASLAH and I had a buddy who was getting bullied for creating havoc in class! He was a bit of a naughty child. And his grades weren’t too good. All I did was I talked to him and helped him out with his math. And the situation improved. I might talk to the bully and say it is not nice to bully. The level of harshness and the tone I would use would of course depend on the age. A 17 year old bullying a 12 year old is of a serious nature, which would require a harsh reprimand. But I am proud to say that we have not had such incidents in school at all,” added Wijeratne.

An ardent admirer of the Russian President Putin, she admires Putin for his patriotism.

“I admire Russian President Vladimir Putin. One thing I admire is, he would do a lot for his country. The way he does it is very efficient. He is of course very intimidating but he is very rational as well. I think he is a good leader. He is not perfect but nobody is. I like the way he leads and possesses great leadership,” said Wijeratne.

Global warming

Nature can do without us. But we cannot do without nature. Wijeratne fervently believes in this. Mother Nature has a true ally in Wijeratne.

“One thing I have a problem with is Global Warming. People put a lot of attention on things like feminism and inequality. But what we neglect is global warming. There is mass deforestation and that is something I feel very strongly about. Because I feel that even though a lot of attention has been drawn to it, it is not in par with the attention drawn to issues like cancer. If you take all the fund raisers, a lot of it would be for cancer or for organ donations or even feminism. But people don’t fight enough for deforestation and protecting our environment, because we cannot survive without it. That is something I feel strongly about, because we need to protect our forests,” said Wijeratne.

There are many definitions of a leader. For Wijeratne it is strength and humility. She believes in inspiring people to follow her rather than forcing others to follow her.

“There are a lot of things which define a leader so you need to be strong. And you need to take a leap of faith, but I think the most important would be to be humble. Because to be a leader you don’t need to force others to follow you. You have to inspire others to follow you. If something goes wrong and you are in charge of it, you need to be humble enough to take blame for it, if something goes right you need to be humble enough to give others credit for it. That is what inspires others to look up to you. You have to be at their level and have them all turn to you. To be a leader the most important thing is to be humble,” said Wijeratne.

‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ is a fantastic novel written by Alexandre Dumas that tells the story of Edmond Dantes, a man who was terribly wronged and imprisoned though he did nothing to deserve it. It is a tale of the triumph of the human spirit and the powerful will of a man. A story of adventure and intrigue.

“My favorite book would be ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, because it teaches you what cleverness is. The way he goes about revenge is brilliant. I enjoyed it when I was small and it has stuck with me ever since. There is revenge but there is love and that combination is really beautiful,” said Wijeratne.



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