Introducing the 2016 Class of LankaCorps Fellows

July 25, 2016 — The LankaCorps Fellowship Program provides a unique opportunity for young leaders of Sri Lankan heritage to professionally engage in social, cultural, and economic development activities in Sri Lanka. The program aims to foster the involvement and understanding of young members of the expatriate Sri Lankan community who have limited in-depth experience with the country of their heritage. Each year, The Asia Foundation selects an outstanding group of LankaCorps Fellows to live and work for six months in Sri Lanka, granting them the unique chance to “explore their roots while giving back.”

The 2016 class of LankaCorps Fellows

LankaCorps Fellow Heima SritharanMs. Heima Sritharan (U.S.A.) has a Post- Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate from Mills College in Oakland, California and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and Political Science from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Sritharan has worked as a Program Associate with Give2Asia and was previously Director of College Counseling and an English teacher in China for two years. Prior to that she worked as patient advocate and volunteer interpreter at an Asian Women’s Shelter. Sritharan plans to pursue a career working with women survivors of domestic violence in a non-profit setting, providing direct service and community-based advocacy. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Tamil and is a Classical Pianist and Carnatic Musician.

Fellowship Placement: Foundation of Goodness

LankaCorps Fellow Melinda YogendranMs. Melinda Yogendran (Canada) has a bachelor’s degree in Ecology with a minor in Environment Science from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. Yogendran worked as an Academic Assistant at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems in Vancouver and as a Facilitator at Vancouver Youth Food Policy Council. Prior to that she was a Research Assistant at the Land Use and Global Environment Lab. She also spent time on a field study in Africa, in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania studying bio-indicators of ecosystems health. Yogendran’s career objective is to work for an organization that has a focus on sustainability development via agricultural systems, educational awareness and nutrition programs for women and children.

Fellowship Placement: Carbon Consulting Group (Pvt) Ltd.

LankaCorps Fellow Nina Marie FernandoMs. Nina Marie Fernando (U.S.A.) has an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Claremont School of Theology and a B.A. in Social Change through Music and Religious Studies from the University of Redlands in California. She has professional experience working at Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice since 2013 and the University of Redlands Interfaith Youth Core. She traveled to Dharamsala, India as a student to participate in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic community program. Among her community engagement activities, Fernando is a member of the Alumni Board of Directors at University of Redlands. Her career objective is to work with a community development/nonprofit organization that focuses on social advocacy, mediation and justice, inter-religious spiritual care and counseling, and nonviolent social change. Nina is a vocalist and guitarist and has been the lead singer with several bands in Los Angeles.

Fellowship Placement: International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)

LankaCorps Fellow Savini GanhewaMs. Savini Ganhewa (U.S.A.) has a bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies and Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. She has experience working as a Research and Student Affairs Assistant and previously worked as a tutor and facilitator for academic outreach programs. Prior to becoming a LankaCorps Fellow, she worked at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Her career objective is to work with a community development/nonprofit organization on social advocacy, gender disparity and economic development. Ms. Ganhewa speaks some Sinhala.

Fellowship Placement: Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)

LankaCorps Fellow Shaaranya PillaiMs. Shaaranya Pillai (U.S.A.) has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies and Communications from the College of Arts and Sciences at New York University (NYU). She has experience working as a teaching assistant at NYU and previously worked as project coordinator at Manhattan Multicultural Counseling. Pillai also volunteered at NYU Child Study Center and Kaleida Health Hospital. She is a vocal music teacher, Bharathanatyam dancer and regular performer of South Indian classical (Carnatic) dance. Her career objective is to work with a community development/nonprofit organization, focusing on mental health with adolescents and offer music training to children as a form of music therapy. Pillai is proficient in Tamil and is familiar with a wide range of IT languages and applications. She has never before been to Sri Lanka.

Fellowship Placement: Family Rehabilitation Centre/Chitrasena-Vajira School of Dance

LankaCorps Fellow Sindu SivayogamMs. Sindu Sivayogam (Canada) has a bachelor’s degree in Environment Studies with a specialization in Urban Design from the University of Waterloo in Toronto, Ontario. Since graduating in 2010, Sindu has worked professionally as an Urban Planner at SvN Architects and Planners in Toronto, where she was involved with interpretation of GIS data, land-use analysis, planning, and policy development. She previously worked at the City of Ottawa Urban Services and was a Research Leader with MINA Holdings in Cape Town, South Africa. Her career objective is to work in community development on sustainability and climate change resiliency, utilizing her work experience in the urban planning field. Sindu is well versed in mapping software. She has been a volunteer at Lifeline Syria Challenge, Humanitarian Open Street Map Initiative and Waterloo Students Planning Advisory, and was also an English tutor for foreign students. Sindu resides in Toronto and has never before been to Sri Lanka.

Fellowship Placement: World Bank Open DRI/Asia Foundation Sub-national Governance Program

Related locations: Sri Lanka
Related programs: LankaCorps Fellowship Program

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