Live boldly without any regrets - Parami Fernando | Sunday Observer

Live boldly without any regrets - Parami Fernando

Having travelled extensively on work and leisure Parami Fernando is at the peak of her career, having accomplished so much at a young age in Sri Lanka and abroad. As the first president of the Rotaract Club of Stella Maris College, Chennai, India she headed 800 or more students in various community service projects. In Sri Lanka, she served as a Rotaract for Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Currently, heading the Media and Communications division of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, having studied travel and tourism for higher education, she made full use of her education on work, travel and conferences.

Besides travelling and everything else she does, Parami is involved in youth development and constantly strives to create a better atmosphere.

She talks to Youth Observer about her work and how she wants to influence the world.

Q : As a youth activist, what do you think are the main issues among the youth to be addressed right now?

One of the main issues would be the lack of proper career guidance after school. These days, everyone is eager to get out of school and earn some money but what they don’t understand is that the higher education/training they receive after school and the soft skills they gather during that time adds so much value to the career growth of a person.

There are more than 1.2 million tuk-tuk drivers in Sri Lanka, which is an island of 21 million people. Most of the school leavers tend to opt for this option right after school because it’s the easiest way to make money and unless the Government takes this issue seriously, it could soon lead to a crisis amomg skilful young professionals in the country.

Q : Tell us what inspires your work related to travel, tourism and youth development?

I don’t do things which do not make me happy as a person. Be it a job, friendship, relationship or anything else. I also think it’s very important to figure out what your preferences are, what inspires you the most as a person and then choose your work accordingly.

It took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do as my full-time job.I have done about eight internships to explore what my true passion is and the experiences, learning and especially skills I have gathered from all the internships and jobs. Youth-related work contributes massively to the work I do now.

Q : Your career is very vivid and diverse, could you comment on this?

I function as the media ‘point of contact’ for the mother organisation of tourism in Sri Lanka which is the Tourism Development Authority. The role includes travelling across the country for work, meeting the stakeholders and working on several national initiatives which are very diverse and are the best parts of my job. Every day is a new challenge and a great opportunity to learn new things.

Speaking about my career, I must acknowledge the amazing leaders I have had the opportunity to work with, who have helped me immensely to shape my career and grow as a person. They are three Chairmen, Kavan Ratnayake, Kishu Gomes, Johanne Jayaratne and Director General Upali Ratnayake. It’s not every day that you meet leaders who appreciate the potential of young people and what they bring to the table and allow them to initiate things. I feel very privileged to be working with some of the best leaders/professionals in the country.

Q : You’re an adventurous and free-spirited person, what would you recommend to someone who wants to follow in your steps?

Career-wise, explore your options and don’t limit yourself to one specific area. The best time for this is when you are doing your Bachelors, through to the internships.

Travel wise, again be open to new experiences, and plan well ahead so you can save up. In a new place make sure to explore the locality, get to know the culture and especially try the local delicacies!

Q : Where do you see yourself in the coming year, and what adventures and ventures are you planning?

Mainly, I would like I would like to travel across Sri Lanka and explore the lesser-known attractions in the country and actively take part in the National Sustainable Tourism Certification Program by SLTDA, which is the first step towards making the Tourism Industry here more sustainable.

Apart from that, from that, I’m also planning a Gastronomy Tour across South East Asia – Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia hopefully next year, if my crazy working schedule permits me.

Q : When the unfortunate Easter Attacks took place, you were in Europe. This led you to work on a Damage Control Plan with UNWTO Headquarters in Spain. Can you speak a bit about what you were able to achieve?

I was backpacking across Europe when the attacks took place. I was set to attend the Fifth UNWTO World Conference on Gastronomy Tourism in San Sebastian, Spain representing Sri Lanka the following week. Capitalising on that opportunity we were able to obtain a video message from the Secretary-General of UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili addressing the global tourism community, stating that the best way to support Sri Lanka is by visiting the island. We were also given five minutes at the fifth World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism to address 750+ top-level Government Officials, Ambassadors, Ministers and International Delegates across the World on behalf of the tourism community of Sri Lanka and invite them to visit the country.There are two more upcoming events which we were able to secure during that time which I’m not at liberty to reveal but would benefit the tourism industry of Sri Lanka locally and globally.

Q : What would you like to say to the Lanka youth?

Take calculated risks and don’t be afraid to explore new opportunities. Most importantly, live boldly without any regrets.

Q : Your comments on independence and living alone?

For me, being independent is very important because it gives you immense responsibility and purpose, especially in Sri Lanka where we are very pampered by our parents from a very young age to settling down –so, it’s important to be independent, figure out who you are as a person and most importantly what you want to do with your life.