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Albright College Young Alumni
Profiles Regaining Sri Lanka

Roshani de Silva '03Clthough she was born in Sri Lanka, a country located in the Indian Ocean off
the southeast coast of India, Roshani de Silva ’03 spent much of her childhood living in England. By the time she returned to Sri Lanka as a teenager, her view of her homeland, a country in economic crisis, had changed.

“I became aware of the many social and economic differences in this community in contrast with my observations in England,” says de Silva. “Great inequalities were noticed in the social behavior and life styles led by those few in the affluent society in comparison with the many individuals in the rural setting. These inequalities were more prominent in Sri Lanka than in England. I was eager to learn more about these differences, and explore the reasons for such disparity between England and Sri Lanka.”

In the past, the high incidence of poverty in Sri Lanka can be attributed to the war that has raged for two decades, as well as a legacy of poor economic management, including the inability to effectively implement change.

ccording to a statement made by Sri Lanka's prime minister, the country began the process of liberalization and reform in 1977, seeking to reverse a regime of nearly total state control of the economy and near universal deprivation. Although the process started off well and produced positive results, over time it lost its momentum.

Following graduation from Albright, de Silva, an economics major, headed back to her homeland and began working for the Honorable Ranil Wickremasinghe, the 12th prime minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. De Silva signed on as the executive assistant to the advisor to the prime minister on monitoring and implementation, and says she was excited to work alongside the prime minister who pledged to overcome the country's economic challenges.

Her job is multifaceted. While she says she can't disclose details because much of what she does is "somewhat confidential," she says most of her work involves monitoring the progress of the various development projects initiated by the prime minister.

She gathers data for projects such as the Small Scale Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Upgrading Project (SIRUP), an initiative aimed at improving basic living conditions in rural areas through rehabilitation and upgrading of water supply, sanitation, irrigation, roads, bridges and education. She attends meetings on the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the National Road Network providing updates on the work’s progress to the prime minister. She assists in projects that fall under the “Regaining Sri Lanka” scheme, an initiative that presents the framework being used to address the major economic challenges facing the country. And, she prepares a daily report for the prime minister, which incorporates important news items gathered from sources such as local newspapers, world news reports and stock market reports.

“The opportunity to meet with senior government officials and be involved in work connected with various development activities implemented and monitored through the office of the prime minister is an incredible experience,” says de Silva.

And it is preparing her well for the next step she plans to take…graduate school. Hoping to attend graduate school in the United States in fall 2004, de Silva plans to earn a doctorate in economics.

A job with the United Nations, World Bank or the Asian Development Bank is what she hopes will follow.

– Jennifer Post Stoudt

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