ELF at Secretary Clinton’s Global Diaspora Forum
Educate Lanka at Secretary Clinton’s Global Diaspora Forum - 2011
By Buwaneka Galpoththawela
Educate Lanka Foundation was among a handful of privileged organizations to be selected to be part of the inaugural Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum held from May 17th to 19th, 2011 in Washington DC. Its founder and president Manjula Dissanayake represented Educate Lanka as a panelist in the Education Forum sharing his experiences and expertise in getting the Sri Lankan Diaspora community involved with the organization’s efforts.
The Education Forum, which was moderated by Patrick Fine of Millennium Challenge Corporation, was one of the few discussion panels that constituted the three day conference. The discussion panel topics ranged from philanthropy and entrepreneurship to education and public health. The Education Forum consisted of four panelists representing four different parts of the world who have taken diverse approaches to get their Diaspora populations involved in supporting their countries through educational causes. All panelists shared their inspirational stories as well as their unique strategies on how they succeeded in their own endeavors. Manjula Dissanayake explained to the forum of the story behind the unique web-centric micro-scholarship model of Educate Lanka and shared a few of its future goals as he explained his vision for the organization’s future.
The first ever Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum was organized by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). The forum brought together over 300 leaders of Diaspora communities from across the world to discuss and educate each other on projects related to development and diplomacy from their countries of origin. The forum was intended to encourage inter-Diaspora community awareness as well as foster partnerships among Diaspora communities for development efforts in their countries of origin. The Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah led the event. The forum also saw the launch of International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA) - an innovative platform for public-private partnerships designed to engage Diaspora communities, the private sector, and public institutions in a collaborative process.
The forum proved a very successful platform for Educate Lanka as its unique online-based micro-scholarship model was widely acknowledged and recognized as a successful working model by the organizers and the participating representatives of other Diaspora institutions working in the education space. The forum also opened the door for Educate Lanka to be introduced to and develop partnerships with the Sri Lanka Desk at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka, and many other grass-root organizations and initiatives both in the U.S. and in Sri Lanka. The event also received heavy press coverage by the partners of the forum such as IFAD, PhilDev, Inter American Development Bank, US Mexico Foundation as well as USAID and the Department of State through their respective media units.