When something feels this special, you know you’ve got a big responsibility ahead of you and that is exactly what the co-chairs of Oration 2022 GV Chamishka and I felt on the day of the OC announcement. The OC was announced at the end of the Avurudhu meeting and as 21 of us stood in front, none of us would have predicted the rollercoaster of emotions Oration’22 would bring to the table. But what we did know or rather hoped was that Oration’22 will be one for the books.
After having our first meeting on that day of the OC announcement itself, we started the prep for this wholesome project. The first post for Oration was put on 15th May followed by a stunning video on 18th May made by Gavelier Saitharshan (who would eventually become ApeSai) that had the attention of all the undergraduates of UOC. This was the beginning of a rather hectic journey where the PR team started rolling out posts while the Finance team worked on the sponsorship proposal. And then finally both teams got together and came up with a fire-cracking project proposal! Now it was time to begin the proceedings of the contest.
First up, was the public speaking workshop.
Since this project had a short timeline, it was rather difficult to find a speaker but alas, luck was on our side as TM Dona Balasuriya, founder and CEO of Law & Order Academia agreed to conduct the workshop.
The workshop was held successfully on the 29th of May under the topic “Unleash the speaker within” where anything and everything about public speaking was discussed. It was also live streamed on FB so those speech enthusiasts who couldn’t attend the workshop, could also make use of the wonderful tips provided by the speaker.
Now while all of this was happening on one side, we also opened registrations on the 21st of May. We received 70 registrations, thanks to the creative memes done by GV Theshani and the jaw-dropping posts by GV Sahan, GV Saitharshan, GV Theshani, and GV Namadee, and the well-crafted captions by GV Pamudi. Special mention to Fadhil Iqbal the pioneer who started Oration and TM Ramalka Kasige the winner of Oration 2020 for creating two videos encouraging the undergraduates to apply for Oration 2022.
With things moving, the Delegates team also came into the spotlight as they started sending countless emails and WhatsApp messages updating the participants about the contest. We also offered to mentor participants where former gaveliers and experienced speakers gave valuable feedback regarding their speech content and delivery.
Everything was falling into place!
Next up, is the Preliminary round. Due to the country’s situation, it was decided to have the preliminary round via video submissions. With the help of Dasitha Wanduragala, our VP-Education, we came up with an airtight Rules and Regulations document. With the Delegates team reminding participants about submissions, the PR team rolling out posts, the Logistics team prepping for the semifinals, and the Finance team running after every potential sponsor, all the teams were working hard.
As the clock struck 11:59 pm on 5th June, the registrations were closed and we had received around 30 video submissions.
As the judges finalized the results, the OC was prepping for a fundraiser.
FUNDRAISER! “Alexa, play “We are young” by Fun.”
“So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun”
That is exactly how we felt after a terrific fundraiser which started with us selling brownies and manioc chips within university premises, transitioned to Sankaja’s promising marketing skills with the games involving giftpacks(which supposedly contained spa Ceylon products), and finally Serah’s idea of selling roses. It was an eventful day with a lot of running, marketing, shedding of blood and sweat(iykyk), and vlogs(obviously). This day was a testament to how the OC adapted and pulled off a successful fundraiser with fewer resources but a lot of determination and passion. It was also an occasion that gave rise to the phrases “Ain’t no tired!” and “If you ain’t having fun, you ain’t doing it right!”
“Alexa turn down the song since we are off to the Semifinals!”
With only a week left, it felt like an impossible task to pull off a semifinal with so many immediate tasks in hand. However, the team was prepared. With the unwavering support of our President, Gavelier Susara the venue was booked and all the matters were under control. One day before the semifinal, a few of the OC members got to the university library premises to arrange the place and look into the last-minute matters. As we finished arranging them, the adventure started when we went to the printing shop. Obstacles came our way, but gratefully GV Saneru, the proud CS undergraduate saved the day by fixing the technical issue. The tags turned out brilliant, kudos to GV Michelle who designed them beautifully! Everything was set and it was 07:30 pm as Saneru hung onto the bus, Chamishka and I crashed GV Susara’s ride and we all reached our homes to attend yet another meeting to finalize the contest proceedings!
We were ready for the semifinals! Are you?
With tags around our necks, every OC and Exco member had a task at hand and a vision in mind. After the arrival of the judges and the Chief Judge DTM Prabath Karunanayake, the role players were briefed regarding the contest and the stage was set! Let the games begin! 11 semifinalists showcased their magnificent speeches which left a mark on stage. As the judges made their decision, our Contest Master GV Theshani had a segment to entertain the crowd. Questions were fired at the semifinalists where we got to hear their story behind Oration’22. Lots of laughter, and smiles but one couldn’t ignore the tension in the room. Without further ado, the results were announced by the Contest Master and we had 6 finalists proceeding to the Grand Finale of Oration’22. As the contest came to an end, pictures were taken by the talented duo, GV Sahan and GV Buddhima, congratulations were passed and a few pranks were pulled(as usual). The end was nearing and we were holding onto every memory!
“None of us is smart as all of us” proved to be true as every one of the OC members worked tirelessly towards the Grand Finale. All of us had one common goal and we were all running toward the finish line. With the uncertainty of the situation in the country, there arose many challenges but our President GV Susara was determined which gave us the courage to move forward with the prep for the Grand Finale. While GV Susara was handling matters on the back end, GV Saneru and I went to Pettah to buy the supplies needed for the deco. As we strolled through the busy streets, bargaining and making deals, we got everything we needed. The next few days that followed, GV Susara and a few of us were there at the university almost every day prepping for the Finale. Invitations designed by GV Saitharshan were sent, the most popular speaker award contest was open, trophies were ready and we were too! One day before the Finale, the OC members got together at the university to prepare the deco for Oration 2022. The day was special as it was also GV Saitharshan’s birthday, which was celebrated by cutting a cake. As work continued, some of the gaveliers(cannot be revealed) did the microphone testing at the venue where some memorable performances gave rise in my opinion, to the funniest vlog of Oration’22. (Sadly, it is very unlikely for this footage to be released)
With the deco completed, we had one more task at hand! Printing! The certificates designed by GV Saitharshan and stickers designed by GV Michelle were printed and we were set, all ready for the BIG DAY!
Finally, make way for the GRAND FINALE of ORATION’22!!! Going along with the theme colors dark blue and silver, everyone was dressed beautifully, the stage was set, and finalists and judges were ready! With our stunning hosts GV Dewmini J and GV Ruwinda, the event began with the lighting of the oil lamp by the chief guest – Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Senior Prof. H. D. Karunaratne, Guest of Honour- DTM Nisal Weerakoon, Special Guest- Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo- Vidya Jyothi Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake, Senior Treasurer – Dr. Iroja Caldera, Chief Judge- DTM Prabath Karunanyake, Past President of the Gavel Club for the term 19/20- TM Uditha Weerasinghe, Current President of the Gavel Club- GV Susara Ouchithya, Co-chairs of Oration’22- GV Chamishka and GV Naethree.
As the oil lamp provided light to the event, the President addressed the gathering with his uplifting words. Then followed the memorable speeches by the Chief Guest and Guest of Honour and Senior Treasurer which inspired the audience. It was time for the beginning of the contest and the Contest Chair, GV Naethree introduced the Contest Master GV Theshani who opened the stage for the 6 finalists. The mind-blowing performances were given by the finalists Sehara Sankaja who voiced the importance of experience, Kavindi Gunawardena who stated her unique take on fears, Chandula Fernando who shared a heart-touching story about kindness, Vinuk Thismalpola who insisted us on believing our dreams, Krishnavi Ratnaranjan who inspired us to create our reality and Thinali Rathnayake who vocalized the importance of a single breath. Staying true to the tag line of Oration 2022, the finalists had uncaged their voices within!
After a short break, TM Ravindu Amendra De Silva delivered a keynote speech in which he spoke about the magic that is created when you grab opportunities. Then, followed the mentions of our sponsors and collaborations: Gold Sponsor-IBSL, Workshop Partner- Codegen, Official Media Partner: FOS Media, Collaborative Partner: Career Guidance Unit of Faculty of Science. With utmost gratefulness for the support of the sponsors, we then moved to the Entertainment session where Sadushi Pathirana delivered a stellar performance of “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion. Next, the co-chairs GV Chamishka and I delivered a speech about the life-changing journey of Oration 2022 and signed off as the co-chairs. It was an emotional moment indeed!
Without further ado, it was now time to award the semifinalists with their certificates. DTM Prabath Karunanyake did the honors and the semifinalists were appreciated for their efforts. Next up, the Contest Chair, GV Naethree called the finalists on stage and teased their nerves before revealing the results. As the Chief Judge handed over the results to the Contest Chair, there was a tension that filled the room. With the excitement from the audience, the winners were announced as follows:
- Champion: Thinali Rathnayake
- 1st runner-up: Chandula Fernando
- 2nd runner up: Sehara Sankaja
- Most Popular Speaker: Vinuk Thismalpola
With an emotional speech from Thinali, the champion of Oration 2022, the rest of the finalists too were awarded certificates by the Senior Treasurer, Dr. Iroja Caldera. As the Contest Chair concluded the contest, GV Dasitha Wanduragala delivered the vote of thanks which reflected the gratitude we were all feeling towards the special guests, judges, sponsors, executive committee, participants, the organizing committee, and the well-wishers. With that, the hosts GV Dewmini J and GV Ruwinda gave their final remarks gracefully and the curtains were closed. Special mention to FOS Media who live streamed the event and TM Uditha Weerasinghe who provided the support that we needed.
With appreciation and photographs everywhere, it was truly a surreal moment to witness. Amongst all the difficulties, ORATION 2022 was an uphill battle to success with tons of memories on the way. From late night zoom calls to, Pettah runs to, staying hours at a printing shop to, Sinhala and Tamil classes to, teasing love interests to, vlogs with anything and everything to, various inside jokes to…… I can keep going on. If someone asked me to choose my favorite thing about Oration 2022, without a doubt it would be the friendships that were made. Starting out as separate teams: the hyperactive Marketing team, fairytale-like Finance team, all point Delegates team, and the last minute warriors the Logistics team, we all became a FAMILY. From knowing so little about everyone to knowing too much, we have been through a lot and we have moved mountains and yet we ain’t tired!
As we celebrated the success of Oration 2022, a question popped. “What’s next?”.
Well, we got to wait and watch more magic that is yet to be created by Gavel, because Gavel certainly never stops. Stay tuned…