President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday graced the 70th anniversary celebrations of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission Program held at the Oak Room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo.
President Wickremesinghe said that the foundation for the friendly relations between the two countries is the educational exchange program, especially the binational Fulbright exchange program between Sri Lanka and the United States. “We have had about 3000 scholars from Sri Lanka and America who typified the exchange of knowledge and professional development that has benefitted both nations. And they have made a big impression on Sri Lanka. They have enriched our society and made our culture so much more vibrant.”
He said the two countries were celebrating 70 years of formal education exchanges in Sri Lanka. He added that the exchange goes back much further. The first exchange was when the American missionaries came to Jaffna and the imprint is still there. The second was when Colonel Henry Olcott came to Sri Lanka. That's another imprint both in Sri Lanka and to a lesser extent in the USA. The next in the 20th century was when President Woodrow Wilson, declared the 14 points which also guaranteed independence to the colonial states.
The President further noted that it was followed during World War II by the four freedoms given by President Roosevelt. “So, Sri Lanka gained independence out of that war. Sri Lanka and the U.S. had strong links during World War II and became independent nations, on which the two countries have built those relations.”
He further said that relations between the two countries are not only based on education and culture but also on economic assistance and political issues where both stood on the same side, Science, technology and many other areas.
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung and Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission Sandarshi Gunawardena also spoke on the occasion.
Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, Parliamentarian Harsha de Silva, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, University Grants Commission Chairman Prof. Sampath Amarathunga, Chancellor of the North-western University Prof. Udith Jayasinghe, Chancellor of the Jayawardenapura University Prof. Sudantha Liyanage and Chancellor of the Ruhuna University Prof. Sujeewa Amarasena also participated.