Leader by example | Daily News

Leader by example

The British School in Colombo
The British School In Colombo Head Prefect. Pictures by Shan Prabath Rambukwella.
The British School In Colombo Head Prefect. Pictures by Shan Prabath Rambukwella.

A good leader is someone who inspires people to work towards better goals that make a positive change in the community. So believes Saanya Subasinghe, Head Girl of The British School in Colombo, a goal oriented individual who understands the importance of working together. Perfect Prefect presents Saanya Subasinghe, a positive young woman with a voice to be reckoned with.

“A good leader is someone who inspires a positive change and motivates people towards achieving better goals but a good leader does not act alone. A good leader is someone with a good support system who hears everyone and then inspires movement towards the shared goal of the community…” said Subasinghe.

A Voice for the Community

Saanya Subasinghe is in her final year at The British School Colombo. She plans to attend Colombia University, a private Ivy League research universityin August. With a family background centered in Business Studies and Management, it was a great surprise when she decided instead to focus on Economics and Political Sciences.

“I know it’s an unusual combination but I am interested in being a voice for the community. With a family that focuses on business studies, they naturally expected that I would go into the same thing. But I want to make a change and impact the future differently,” said Subasinghe.

One of her strengths is public speaking which proved most beneficial when she participated in Model United Nations (MUN), specifically in Colombo Model United Nations (COMUN) and this helped fuel her preference for political science. She also has a passion towards working for others which translates into her hopes of being a voice for the voiceless.

Inspired by Obama

While she will be attending the same university as former President of the United States Barack Obama, who also majored in political science at Colombia University in New York City, it is Michelle Obama for whom she has the utmost respect.

“Michelle Obama took the title of First Lady of the United States and made it her own. The amount of work she has done for Women’s Rights including the Let Girls Learn initiative is truly inspiring. I believe that she is the perfect example of a good leader,” said Subasinghe.

Subasinghe too is an advocate for women’s empowerment in her own way. She was recently selected for the “Centennial Anniversary 2018 International Convention of Zonta International” which is to be held in Japan. She was selected out of ten to speak at the event as she was one of the ten International YWPA (Young Women in Public Affairs) Award winners for the previous year.

“Feminism is for Equality. It is the empowerment of women to achieve equality but joint effort is needed to achieve it,” said Subasinghe.

The Face of a Team

To Subasinghe, the role of a Head Prefect is more of an official role. She and her co-Head Prefect, Darren Hall function as figureheads – a face of a team. There are two teams of prefects, the juniors and the seniors. The teams consist of Grade 12s and 13s respectively. The Head Prefects themselves are from Grade 13. First working with their peers in Grade 13 and then the new prefects from Grade 12 is quite a challenging transition. However like all good leaders they have a support system to back them up in the form of the Grade 13 seniors who help mentor the Grade 12s.

“It’s easy to work with Darren. We’re used to working together first as House Captains last year, when we became House Champions at Inter House Athletics and now as Head Prefects. We co-ordinate well and I know he’s always ready to back me up…” said Subasinghe speaking about her co-Head Prefect, Darren Hall.

Their duties as Head Prefects include monitoring the canteens during intervals to ensure that discipline is maintained and checking that uniforms meet the requirements of the school rules. They keep order during assemblies with the help of the prefects from the junior school. They are required to attend all school functions and even host certain school events.

It’s all about the teamwork and sharing of thoughts and ideas. All ideas and opinions that are voiced in prefects’ meetings are taken into account. All alternative options are considered before arriving at a conclusion. The teachers too are a great source of strength as they offer advice whenever necessary.

We are Family!

Subasinghe considers The British School of Colombo to be a tightly knit community that conveys a family feeling. Based on unity and respect, they are interwoven to form an integrated web of togetherness in whatever arena be it sports, extra-curricular activities, singing, dancing or whatever else.

Bullying is discouraged as much as possible. However in the event that such an issue occurs, there are touch points for each grade that can be approached and these persons find ways to remedy the situation.

“In most situations, it is the same kind of people that are behind the bullying. The situation is handled effectively and as immediately as possible by talking to the bullies and in a worse situation, their parents. We are a family and families respect each other…” said Subasinghe.

The Big No!

While bullying is handled with some level of leniency, there is one issue that receives a big no from the school and this is the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, in The British School of Colombo recently such a concern had been brought to light as a group of students from Grade 10 had been found in the possession of drugs. This was handled promptly by the school authorities and the parties involved had been expelled.

“Contrary to the norm, it was the Year 10s that were involved in this issue. The senior school includes students from Year 7 to 13 so as the grade that is securely in the middle of the senior school, the Year 10s were in an influential position. Ultimately it was the seniors that acted as a source of strength, helping the juniors and advising them. Drug abuse is a big no and I feel that the right decision was made regarding the parties involved…” said Subasinghe.

Come back and give back!

Saanya Subasinghe considers her father to be her biggest inspiration. His ability to transform a room and motivate people to be driven towards achieving a goal or vision is one of his greatest qualities.

“My dad was always busy travelling and yet he always somehow managed to keep us all together. He taught us important values and inspired us to always give back to our loved ones and our country. His unselfish nature, generosity and kindness are understated…” said Subasinghe as her love for her father shone evidently on her smiling face.

Having built is own business, he inspired her to passionately chase her dreams and cultivated a sense of patriotism in her as well. No matter where life takes her, she is motivated to come back to Sri Lanka and give back to her motherland.

Never Give Up!

Subasinghe is one who follows her passion and never gives up. She understands that everybody makes mistakes and that what is important is learning from these mistakes. She believes in following her heart.

“People are always going to tell you that you’re doing it wrong and that’s okay. Listen to them and be aware of the possible alternatives. Be open-minded but know that the truth is always in your heart. So trust yourself and follow your heart…” summed up Subasinghe.


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