De Silva said she felt grateful and humbled by the $11,200 grant, which she plans to use to rebuild bridges between communities in her native Sri Lanka to lessen ethnic tensions and help restore areas that have been damaged by recent warfare.
“As we attempt to help people regain their former livelihoods and a life of normalcy, we want to also create lines of communication between members of different groups,” de Silva explained.
De Silva will be working with the group Citizens’ Initiative to provide a safe place for children of feuding villages to connect through art projects and sports workshops. She will also sponsor children from each village to enable them to visit other communities for one-day workshops in order to promote peace and understanding, she said.
ReachOut 56-81-06 has awarded a total of 23 fellowships to graduating seniors who pursue projects dedicated to making the world a better place. The group also operates a CollegeAwareness program in Brooklyn for high school students and holds an annual social entrepreneurship competition on campus.
De Silva said she respected how ReachOut 56-81-06 “used the idea of building bridges between communities in post-war Sri Lanka to build bridges between generations of Princetonians in the name of service, even reaching out to the Class of 2006 to raise funds.”
ReachOut 56-81-06 is made up of members of the classes of 1956, 1981 and 2006. The organization regularly awards fellowships to students committed to improving the lives of the less fortunate through public interest programs.