San Mateo High School, San Mateo
As a founding member of her local temple Buddhist committee, and as founder of Music in the Library, Sethmi touches the lives of those around her in very positive ways. Sethmi arrived in the United States with her family after fleeing the civil war and destruction wrought by the tsunami in 2006. While learning a new language and adapting to her new home, she preserved her own culture and shares it with her community.
Her Buddhi Vihara Dhamma School is a program that welcomes everyone to come and learn Buddhism and Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka. Thus far, the program has provided more than 100 children access to a minority culture that is rare in the United States. Sethmi also understands the language of music. Sensing the need for a music program in the community, with many families unable to afford music lessons, she founded a free, student-run two-week music camp for students through the local library.
In its second year, the program grew to encompass two sessions. From the children’s smiles to the parents’ applause at the closing recital, Sethmi derives satisfaction from their joy in music and from the progress they’ve made over the course of the session. Sethmi’s long-term goal is to make a difference and alleviate suffering. Whether through her passion for music or her love for her culture, she will use her natural gift for inspiring those around her to serve her community, both American and Sri Lankan.