When I was growing up in Sri Lanka, I was a member of a big family. We were five boys and three girls. My father was a hard-working science and math teacher, and mother was a homemaker. We did not have much and shared whatever we had among the siblings, the extended family of uncles, aunts, and the village. It was never a one-way street. Anyone who had excess always shared with others. When it comes to knowledge, god’s gift, we shared it with anyone without hesitation. I remember the neighborhood kids stoping by my house to clear doubts or ask a question. I even remember times when kids who lived a mile away stopping by to ask questions. My father and brothers explained answers without any expectation.
When I came to the United States of America to pursue higher education, my older brothers brought my cousin with me, put both of us through college, and paid for our room, board and education expenses without any expectation of pay back. One of my brothers passed away in 1998. I dream of taking care of my other brother when he is elderly, but he does not have any expectation from me.
It is because of my family history that I give to St. Cloud Technical and Community College Foundation.
I give to keep my brother’s memory alive and remember his support of my education. I want to pay forward what I received.
When I started giving, I realized happiness is seeing the fruits of giving. If everyone helps and supports our neighbors like back home, we have a better community to live in. Especially in St. Cloud.
At St. Cloud Technical and Community College we do not give our students a fish, but we teach them how to fish. Imagine, if every one of our students starts teaching the people whom they know how to fish, all of us will be better off. Rising tides raise all boats. When everyone gains knowledge, ignorance is wiped out. The world will be a better place for all of us to live in.
I invest what it costs to buy a cheap cup of coffee at the gas station every day, a dollar. I encourage everyone to invest a dollar a day in our community’s future that will make a huge impact to our students’ life and our future.