SRU graduate gets lesson on keeping address book up-to-date
Keep your address book up-to-date, you never know when it might pay off. The advice rewarded Slippery Rock University’s December graduate Sureni Ranasinghe, an international student from Sri Lanka, with the opportunity to see 33-year-old photographs of her father and the chance to meet one of his long-lost friends.
As SRU’s commencement ceremony approached, Ranasinghe’s mother, younger sister and aunt made preparations to travel to campus from Sri Lanka, according to a news story on The-Press-News.com.
During the planning, her father, Edwin, recalled that some 30 years ago as a young man he had befriended a U.S. exchange student who had traveled to Sri Lanka where he had shown her about his native countryside. He asked his daughter to try to make contact with the woman, Nancy Varian. They had not been in contact for more than three decades.
Ranasinghe’s checks on FaceBook quickly found Nancy Varian’s husband, Reed, in nearby East Canton, Ohio, and the link was completed. A few e-mails later, the then-soon-to-be-SRU-graduate found herself and her visiting family members invited to join the Varian family at their Ohio home.
“It was a tremendous visit. They were very gracious, and it was fun,” Ranasinghe said. “We saw a slide show of my father as a young man, and we saw how our community looked then. Mrs. Varian had tried to contact my father and others she had known right after the tsunami struck in 2004, but she said she was unable to make any contacts. Now the two have shared e-mails.”
Varian told the online news service she had visited Sri Lanka for five months in 1977. During the visit, she was hosted by nine families with one outing leading to her meeting Edwin Ranasinghe. He spoke English and served as tour guide as Varian took photographs while learning the country’s culture.
Varian shared the decades old photos and slides with her Sri Lankan visitors who noted that due to a lack of cameras in their home county in the 1970s, they had seen very few photos of Edwin as a young man. There were also photos of Edwin’s childhood home and some from a Pirith ritual, a Buddhist ceremony that honored the death of their grandfather.
The Ranasinghes, who are Buddhists, also shared and learned about the Christmas traditions Varians were celebrating.
Ranasinghe, a marketing major, said she is currently looking for a job in the U.S.
Showing they are keeping up internationally, the Varians are also hosting one of 15 Chinese educators involved in a six-month exchange program related to K-12 education in their county. The exchange involves Stark County schools and Malone University.
The Varians visited their new friend Ranasinghe in Slippery Rock earlier this month.
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