Lasith (lasith) wrote,

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To Find One's Place...Doesn't necessarily have to be in One Place

I've recently been doing some things that have been quite enjoyable and things that I have not done in a while.  I started going to SAGA (Student's Against Global Apathy) Meetings and I hope to help start a chapter at Old Scona.  I've also been going in the morning to visit the Monks at the Meditation Centre.  Finally I have chosen to attend Anglican church service at St. George's by the University.  St George is the patron saint of England and eradicated dragons from England.  Being an Ice Dragon I am drawn to the place.  The church newsletter is called the Crusader.  I felt strangely at home there but I knew I was in the right place because I had dropped my glasses and without reading knew the words to the Lord's Prayer.

It's strange how those moments of clarity come to me.  Sometimes when I'm camping, sometimes when I have Deja Vu during a poker game, and sometimes walking by myself in the early morning or late at night.  I feel safe like the cosmos is on my side.  It is at that time that the World is at My Doorstep

The World At My Doorstep

Lasith Witharana

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Albert Einstein

I can only look back in awe and wonder of how some of the greatest international experiences I have had occurred without even leaving Edmonton. Not often you can say that you live with the world within your grasp. But living at International House at the University of Alberta has given me the opportunity to say that, both with pride and delight. Truly our motto, “The World Under One Roof” is apt. Every hello, every smile, every conversation is a journey to a new place, a different culture. I would never have imagined, back when I applied, that I-House would mean so much to me. I could have never anticipated that this new building, place of my first experience living in residence, would change the way I live, the person I am and, on top of it, give me a place I would lovingly call home.

It was September of 2004 when I first set eyes on International House. It was the 6th floor where I made a family of loyal, caring and, enlightening friends. From that moment on, there was nothing in me that burned as brightly as my curiosity. The things I learnt that September from my floor mates opened up my mind, my soul and my heart. I knew that Canada is a land of immigrants in essence, but I realized that there is nothing that shows our nation’s diversity and acceptance of others than the way we challenge the unknown. I learned the importance of tolerance in the most personal way. Now I know that it is this greatness what lets us take the beauty from our differences and make our young country evolve into a great one.

The experiences at I-House have been not only memorable, but fun. They have helped unify our community over time. From spokescouncil, where we discuss I-House issues and plan for the future, to our potlucks where we share meals from many lands together, to our parties and celebrations where smiles and laughter are the mainstay. When your home is a place of smiles and amusement, there is always a desire to come home. To hear about your friends’ travels, their studies, their experiences, their minds, their hearts, and souls, it has all been a awakening experience. And it only takes a joke, a smile to communicate with any person, from anywhere. It is a universal gesture of kindness, of joy in the company of others, which is the basis of any friendship from Singapore, to Saudi Arabia, to Sydney (British Columbia). In I-House I soon learned that a universal language of cooperation helps us cope with the challenges of living away from family. Family that is, for some, miles away but continents away for most.

We as Humans fear loneliness above many things because we are social creatures. Luckily the I-House community makes it difficult to be lonely. That is why when people leave us to return home, they leave with new friends, new ideas and fond memories. They leave more open, more loved, and wiser. Many days I have been at the airport seeing a friend off to some far away place with tears in our eyes and a hope of sharing time with them once again. Luckily for us, the world is getting smaller and our hopes are easily made reality through technology. This is part of the true magic of I-House: the friendships you make survive the test of time and distance. And for the luckiest ones, the love survives as well.

Would I have gone to a Catholic mass on Christmas in Calgary with a friend from New Brunswick, Singapore and Iran without I-House? The answer is obvious yet beautiful. That a Catholic, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist can all share an significant experience together in unity is just one more example of how nourishing to the spirit living in I-House can be. Unfortunately very few places in the world do such occurrences happen. Where else could such understanding and enlightening friendships be created but in this unique environment?

My Iranian friend, always waxing philosophical, asked us: “What is Beauty?” From what I’ve experienced in I-House, I have to say that to me, friendship is the epitome of beauty. It grows like a lotus flower: from the mud beneath the waters depth it reaches upwards towards the warmth of the Sun and shares its bloom and fragrance with anyone near it. I-House has allowed me to bloom as an individual and inspires me to spread the beauty of friendship. I really believe that by helping others we help ourselves and our world. In this sense, I-House contributes by fostering a microcosm, a “World Under One Roof”. Everyday you step on your doorstep is a day of happiness, a beautiful day, mysterious, and yet never ceasing to awe and wonder.

Tags: religion, saga, students against global apathy, taking it global

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