Shyamika Jayasundara

November 2010: Currently I am a third year Phd Candidate at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, The Netherlands.

My thesis focuses on the nexus between  ethnic conflict reproduction and trajectory of state building in Sri Lanka. So far I have been able to finish writing four chapters of my thesis.

At the moment getting ready to write the last two chapters on the war in Sri Lanka using the field data collected beginning of last year. One of the earlier chapters I wrote titled “Nationalism  in Sri Lanka : A Neo-marxist Interpretation” is soon to be published in the Netherlands. This year I also made two academic presentations using another chapter titled “Genesis and contemporary outcomes of Patronage in Sri Lanka”, at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands  and University of Bath, UK.

Apart from writing the thesis, I have also been working as a teaching associate and a guest lecturer for few courses in the Masters Degree Program here at ISS. Overall, this year has been quite busy as I undertook some project work at the University. Last couple of months I was helping to organize a TOT for 20 Georgian Civil Society Leaders who came to the Institute to receive two weeks of  training on Decentralization and Participation in Georgia. Apart from providing managerial support, I also conducted several training sessions in this TOT.

When and where possible I am looking for opportunities to engage with Sri Lanka from a distance too. This year, I was lucky to receive an invitation to review papers for a conference organized in Sri Lanka  by one of my former employers in Sri Lanka, GTZ/FLICT project. I think I can take more responsibilities in terms of teaching and research related work in the coming year as I am finishing serving as a councilor in the Institute Council and as the student representative in the Research Degree Committee at the institute.

I must mention that although sometimes the work load is overwhelming, I have been able to strike a healthy balance between my academic and personal life. My husband Marcel supports me in all my work and constantly reminds me to take care of my self. At the moment, we both are eagerly looking forward for our visit to Sri Lanka, in the  beginning of next year.

January 2008: I am a PhD candidate (Development Studies) at Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands. My research is focusing on how the space of development work can be utilized to bring about reconciliation among grassroots while the civil wars are still continued at track one level.

The idea is to find an interim reconciliation process while the violence is on (in civil war situations) that will strengthen peoples’capacities to make effective contributions to national level peace building and build a people’s peace movement. Working with all the levels in the society of Sri Lanka, I am convinced that we need to do more work at the grassroots level to influence the corrupted, profit making civil society and track 1.

September 2004: I am working for German Technical Cooperation in Sri Lanka, as anadvisor and lead trainer for a project called FLICT (Facilitating Local Initiative for Conflict Transformation) in their capacity building endeavors. We are running a program for 30 mid-career and career professionals from various backgrounds and age groups from all across Sri Lanka, equipping them with knowledge in conflict transformation. Our goal is to enable them to coach local organizations in far away corners in Sri Lanka in doing better peacebuilding work so that projects reach the maximum level of impact.

So far, I have been designing the modules on various aspects of peacebuilding and also lecturing and conducting training sessions as the lead trainer for many sessions. I am also helping FLICT to carry out evaluations on their previous engagements with various partner organizations.

Weekends, I again work as a visiting lecturer at the University of Colombo (where I was teaching before I entered the MA program), conducting a certificate program for new staff at the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs. The young staff think the solution to the problem in Sri Lanka is to fight against the LTTE. So I have begun the process of “positive and peaceful” brainwashing them with my learnings at EMU! From recently I began lecturing at the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the same university for a group of post graduate students, who are enthusiastically listening to my stories of conflict transformation, restorative justice and etc.

This fall I also joined a training team conducting a program for Buddhist monks. This is a great opportunity as they are a controversial group in Sri Lanka’s peace building efforts. Hopefully, a few of them can become positive voices against the current politicized set of monks who appear on the TV and newspapers on an every day basis.

When hearing the feedback from my participants and my senior foreign colleagues about my work, I feel very happy and appreciate more my study and learning at EMU.