Knowing the way | Daily News

Knowing the way

St. Joseph’s College, colombo
Head Boy of St. Joseph’s College Vihan Udawela. Pictures by Sarath Peiris
Head Boy of St. Joseph’s College Vihan Udawela. Pictures by Sarath Peiris

Head Boy of St. Joseph’s College Vihan Udawela is driven by a vision which is – ‘A leader is one who knows the way, Goes the way and shows the way’. Perfect Prefects features Udawela, who pursues his dreams yet in no way compromises his values.

Udawela is one of those young leaders who is deeply concerned about the environment we live in. He respects his fellow human beings and at the same time respects the environment. Amongst the threats we face Udawela points out that littering is a serious problem.

Hard work

Litter creates visual, soil, water and air pollution, is costly to the economy, leads to tension in society, serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and is responsible for the death of millions of animals. These dangers have incited him to raise his voice for all who live on our planet.

“I am very concerned about protecting our forests and our rivers. I feel very strongly about keeping our environment clean. The problem of litter is one that troubles me. The pollution caused by litter is something we all should be concerned about. When I see litter, I instinctively pick it up and put it in the rubbish bin. We need to realize that we share our world with others,” said Udawela.

This young leader believes that the key to his success is hard work and dedication. He believes that if you are given a task you need to give it 100 per cent and finish it. That he says is how you reach your goals. Having a plan in your life is also a way to succeed. He points out that it is important to have a goal in life. The mantle of Head Prefect was something he desired from a very young age. And slowly but surely he rose through the echelons of his alma mater till he achieved his dream. One piece of advice he gives is that you need to be able to form relationships and work with people and stay calm in tense situations.

“I’m a Roman Catholic. I strongly believe that God has a purpose and plan for each and every one of us. He has given us a free will but his plan is the best. I always do my best to glorify the Lord by using all the talents he has given me. And I believe with God by my side, nothing can put me down. I have a family that supports me in everything that I do, and as a family, we all believe in God’s unending love and his amazing grace. As a practice, we make it a point to pray daily as a family. I am a member of St. Mary’s Church Choir, Maharagama. I respect and value each and every religion, as all religions deliver the same message Love one another,” explained Udawela.

When it comes to inspiration, his biggest inspiration is his mother. She has always been with him. Her guidance and encouragement mean everything to him. As he achieved all his goals she has always been behind him. She has given her 100 per cent towards his success.

Different backgrounds

Udawela pointed out that racial discrimination in the world is a very distressing problem. He sees no reason for this as at St. Joseph’s the boys are part of one family.

“At St. Joseph’s I have friends from different backgrounds. We have no issues with each other. I always try to be a friend to anyone. I always tell everyone not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Respect is a major theme in my life. We need to respect each other. Respecting a person can make a huge difference in that person’s life and a difference in society. Even if the person is someone younger to you, you still need to respect him or her. As a leader, you need to know the way, Go the way and show the way. If you cannot do that, you can’t complain if others do not follow you. You should be able to lead by example. If there is something you can learn from a junior you should learn it. You should not be embarrassed to learn something from someone younger to you,” explained Udawela.

When it comes to pressure, a leader needs to handle tense situations. You simply cannot avoid uncertain situations says Udawela. In these situations what he does is look to the Lord who is his first resort. Udawela points out that prayer can do wonders. As soon as he says a prayer, the tension and pressure dissipate.

“I also get the unstinted support from my two Deputy Head Prefects, Assistant Head Prefects, Senior Prefects and Stewards. Not forgetting the Master-in-Charge of the Prefects’ Body, Mr Ravi Fonseka. From the time I was appointed as the Head Prefect, I received lots of encouragement and support from our Past Rector Rev Fr. Travis Gabriel and Vice Rector Rev Fr. Anton Ranjith who was also the Priest in Charge of the Prefects’ Body and presently I receive the same support and encouragement from the present Rector Rev Fr. Ranjith Andradi and the Vice Rector Rev. Fr. Ruwan Deshapriya, who is the current priest in charge of the Prefects’ Body. The tremendous support I receive from the priestly community, teachers and all other members of the college are wonderful,” added Udawela.

School choir

Music has always been a part of his life. He started singing when he was about 7 years old. He joined the primary school choir when he was in Grade 4 and then joined St. Cecilia’s Choir of St Joseph’s College and there onwards he was trained by Francis de’ Almeida, the Choral Director. In addition to this, he was under the leadership of many talented choir leaders.

“I had the opportunity to travel to Rome, Italy in 2012 and I took part in the Papal Audience with the participation of three other schools. Music has helped me get through difficult times. At present, I am following a diploma in Audio Engineering at Music Oven. I believe that God provides each one of us with special gifts and talents. It is up to us to identify those talents and improve them and make the best use of it. I am gifted with the talent of playing instruments such as the piano, keyboard, guitar, acoustic drums and Cajon drums which are self-taught. I do not have a favourite artist as such but I prefer listening to Ed Sheeran’s and Cold Play songs. When it comes to Sri Lankan Artists, I prefer BNS - the pop duo and Daddy Band which also has two past Josephians,” pointed out Udawela.

Udawela performed at InterFlash 2017 (Live Light Finals) and represented the college as a finalist and was awarded second place at this event which was organized by Interact District 3220.

“I have been in the interact club and it has really done wonders for me because initially, I was a very shy student. It really changed me because I learnt to speak in public, how to talk to people and work with other people. When I joined the interact club I met so many different personalities and I really grew as a person. The choir I was in taught me leadership skills. My message to young people is to have a goal and have a dream and work for it,” said Udawela.


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