A soothing yet exhausting, stressful yet fun-filled journey… A time where unending hassle tested us enough on our patience but still those giggles that we all used to laugh out, during our back-stage work, made up for most of it.
Rotaract Club of University of Moratuwa is one of the most outstanding clubs in Rotary International District 3220. Rota Spark is one of the signature projects of the membership avenue, of Rotaract Mora, and thereby it becomes our responsibility to plan and execute it in the most pronounced manner possible, in order to identify and select the most skilled newbies and continue the dynasty of Rotaractors with them. For over 4 months 8 chairs worked head over heels to make Rota Spark a reality. I believe that we did it as exceptional as possible…and that too, after thriving hard with, the utmost effort of introducing new concepts and new competitions to reinforce the idea of ROTARACT MORA to the clueless newbies.
I am Malithi Kanuwana, a co-chair of the ignition and one out of the 8 chairs of Rota Spark. First of all, I must mention “THE CHARACTER OF ROTA SPARK” who suggested me for this position, Chathuni Sooriayarachchi (AKA Chathuni Akka), the Co-Director of the Membership Development avenue. Also, our mentor, in Rota Spark, who coordinated everything at every inch. I would first love to thank her for choosing me as the chair of the ignition. Being the proud owner of the title “Sri Lanka’s shortest avenue director”, she is prolific at enticing people, saying “ don't worry there’s not much work to do” and ending up trapping all the 8 poor chairs of the project.
The less talkative and innocent Nisal Karunathilake was appointed with the very talkative me, as the co-chair of the Ignition and he was indeed a very encouraging chairperson, who was marvelous to work with. Supporting me through every second, we finally conducted the trouble-looking competitions with classy strokes and classic figures. And talking about the IGNITION EVENT, it was no less than a classic masterpiece., with all the terrific efforts worth it.
Coming to the prior most thing we did in setting up the agenda, it was the PR plan of the IGNITION. Poor PR plan,... it had to undergo a thousand and one changes, right till the end. During the Orientation, we heard that a little controversy had popped up and the newbies were a little aggressive regarding the scoreboard. So we thought of making the ignition quite smooth. In contrast to the name, instead of igniting the arena, plans were made to make it ice cool. Owing to it, elated me and Nisal, replanned and edited the PR plan by removing the Creative video competition. So finally the PR Plan comprised of only two competitions, the RETHINK | EDITORIAL COMPETITION, which was a continuation of last year's competition but with more spice, I would add, and the CROSSWORD PUZZLE which was a novel concept, introduced this year.
What is far more interesting are the “behind the scenes moments” of the ignition. The commencing point itself was an “oops moment” where we hadn't made the content for the very first video: IGNITION COMING SOON. I became “THE FLASH” for a moment to create the content for a video that I had no idea about. Only then could I fathom the flow of the PR campaign. Nevertheless, the PR campaign was taken care of smoothly and it simply had a beautiful flow right till the end, except for some moments, when we forgot to release the flyers on the enumerated time. But I must say Rota Spark made me a desperate caption writer and a content writer, making me write them in a haste effortlessly.
The competitions added to my worries in the beginning but later became my strengths. When holding the two competitions, we introduced new concepts which we thought would succeed in reinforcing the idea of what ROTARACT MORA is, to the newbies. The RETHINK too had new areas like “ movie review writing”, which I wondered would barely get five submissions. Leaving me surprised, the RETHINK had over 100 submissions by the deadline, overwhelming my cheap expectations which suggested a figure, of less than half the submissions received. For the Rethink, we added up some cool strategies. As we heard the newbies were quite excited with their team spirit, which was roving too high. To make a little change to the flow we highlighted the fact that the competition is an individual competition and we least emphasized the fact that the no of submissions from a house would be counted for rewarding marks to the team. In addition, to avoid the over-exhaustion of one individual with submissions, which we saw went wrong in the case of the Orientation, we imposed maximum limitations, such that one individual could only submit a maximum of two submissions, one from the category of poetry and the other from the category of creative writing. With the limitations being imposed and as the RETHINK had new areas like “ movie review writing”, we only expected a cheap count. I still remember we discussed “ Rethink nam 45 pahu wenne nah” But, leaving us surprised, the RETHINK had over 100 submissions by the deadline, overwhelming our cheap expectations which suggested a figure, of less than half the submissions received. That is where we knew we reached a milestone where I would love to owe most of the success to the house coordinators who had done a fabulous job in motivating the newbies.
The CROSSWORD PUZZLE did puzzle me out when I explained that to the house coordinators. Contemplating my high-speed speech, I feared that the house coordinators had entered a COMA state, out of confusion. Despite my second attempt to explain it slowly, they still couldn't fathom the gist, adding to my dismay. Oh boy…that day my confidence sank and I even thought of withdrawing from the competition. I kept on insisting Chathuni akka and Nisal “meke google form wade hariyaida?,jam weida danne nah serama” and the duo pacified me saying, “api karala balamuko, baya wen a oni nah” But, as they say behind every dark cloud is a silver ray. The following day, the guideline booklet for the competition was released. I was on my nerves that day. In contrast to the disquiet, I experienced, the way how the newbies could comprehend the gist of it only by looking at the guidelines and the kind of enthusiasm they showed, made me rebelieve in the competition. Throughout it, the way the newbies got along with the project they were assigned, was pleasing to witness. In contrast to all those hurdles I has nightmares about, the previous day, the whole CROSSWORD PUZZLE went quite smoothly till the end. Of course, some problems came up, from time to time but they were flexibly overcome. Nisal was the one who received calls and messages from the house coordinators and group leaders. I have mixed feelings about not being the cooperative one with the coordinators and the house leaders, and, well! It is probably because I barely read the WhatsApp messages, which makes me a horrible communicator.
For the crossword puzzle too, we implemented plenty of strategies, but unlike for the Rethink they weren’t cool, instead, they were subtle and not easily understood. One was launching a google form to assess the participation of the team members, where one individual could only submit one clue. And the no of submissions was given marks. This was also done to make sure that a single individual was not traumatized in making the puzzle. The fact that I had to explain this a 1000 times to the same set of people in a zoom meeting, was a grand gesture, at the very beginning itself, that the puzzle is going to toss my nerves. In order to make sure that maximum people are contributing, house coordinators stayed in deep touch with them. In addition to that, to identify their design skills, they were advised to use an eligible design for the puzzle background. The most important thing that we wanted to manifest was having active participation of the future Rotaractors in creating and dissolving the two puzzles and creating a fascination and scrutiny in them with regards to the signature Rotaract projects, which we believe was approached. The newbies did give their comments after the puzzle and almost everyone had told that they grew an interest about Rotaract Mora.
The conclusion….. IGNITION EVENT…. So much chaos I must say. Initially, I thought of getting a female moderator to moderate with Savin, but later it was decided to appoint me as the female moderator. Contradictory to Saaedha and Malintha (orientation moderators) who had gone with the classic theme of “Lord of the Rings”, we decided to keep it formal since the avenue presentation is happening and it is better off taking an official mode. Reluctant Savin, agreed, however, moderate. Sleep-deprived, I was preparing the moderation script, Nisal Yanush Chathuni Akka and Upeksha were creating the DECODE ME game. The following day, after sleeping for only 2 hours, the chaos continued. Chathuni Akka in a panic attack, as usual, Nisal designing the avenue presentation and editing it a hundred times, and Savin being the least punctual one, me too busy with the moderation script, and also toggling on my poor neurons, spiced up the rehearsal phase.
What really worried me was when Rucheewa said “ Saaedha nam make up kala, ekata wenama salon cost ekakuth gatta eya budget eken”.The worst part was that I was not only a moderator, I was a chair too. As the PR campaign was also going crazy by that time, I had very less time. Due to all this chaos, I forgot to release the “6 hours more” flyer on time, so Hiran had to edit it again to “5 hours more” Amidst all this what worked the most on my dopamine and serotonin balance was the makeup! Clueless of makeup, and with the little time I had for everything, I decided that inner beauty is far more important than external beauty, and went with no makeup for moderation. However, I regret it now.
But it’s worth noting that all this drama and the trauma was worth it in the end, as we concluded the event successfully. I discovered a new me, moderating with all the freedom and it was a real pleasure moderating with the “least punctual” Savin.
This blog would pretty much be incomplete without the funniest part of Rota Spark; Chathuni Akka's power cuts. How we used to tease her and make fun of it was just so hilarious. I still remember someone saying during the ignition event” community avenue eke eelanga project eka Chathuni akkata signal tower ekak hadana eka”. Those stress-free Zoom sessions were real happy pills. Those filters that we used, the stickers that were made after that were all just another level of amusement, that I discovered with Rota Spark. My lazy call log was too busy back then. Attending lectures with a concentrated mind was a little difficult and self-study sessions were only a dream back then. With my CA 04 exam round the corner, I was a little freakish but probably I didn't show it to the people around me, that Chathuni akka once said” Malithi stress wenne nah, Upeksha thamai matama galapenne” and adding to it, Yanush, poked fun at both Chathuni akka and Upkesha saying “ kohomath event eka dawasata kalin dawase dennatama panic attack hadenawa”.All those teasings were so worth it because at the end we only remember how we faced hardships and how we laughed all of them frivolously and moved on.
I must say all the 8 chairs worked that we wouldn't even do for our GPA. I always say we worked for more than 24 hours a day during our period of ROTA SPARK. All this was possible because of our backbone, Chathuni Akka. While making new friends, new memories, new experiences, improving patience, controlling stress, and a thousand more things, I, with immense pleasure, did embark upon during the Rota spark journey. During the Open week also we supported as we could. However, I thought that we concluded the Ignition but, the real work started after the ignition. The report!This blog! and many more…….Right now, while I am writing this I am on the verge of concluding my final few minutes as the chair of Ignition...Solely with a thankful heart and with no grudge at all, hereby I conclude the IGNITION. I would love to add my wholehearted gratitude to everyone who supported me and to all my wonderful 8+1 souls (chairs and Chathuni Akka), and my beloved organizing committee literally, for everything.