The Grand Journey of the Student Activity Club

Diving back in time

In the year 1999, APIIT joined the world of higher education in Sri Lanka and welcomed its first students in January of 2000. It’s been 17 years since then and in the relatively short time that we’ve been around, we are extremely proud of how we’ve defined what it means for students to have life outside of their lectures. As short as this time span is, it’s at the same time, a lifetime as far as student life goes and we thought it would be fun to dive into the past 17 years of student life at APIIT to see how we got here.

When I joined APIIT back in 2000, I was part of the second batch. Though opportunities were a plenty to join other better established universities, fate had it that I enroll here. Most of us have been involved in some form of extracurricular activity while in school and it was the same for me as well. Sports, drama, debates — the works. So stepping into this place, I was skeptical. Would this be the end to all of that? Should I reconsider joining a place where I could be guaranteed to have all these activities? Little did I know how much APIIT would end up being a significant part of my adult life and how much we would grow as individuals thanks to the life here.

Life at APIIT was in general, a routine of classes, labs, library, study rooms and of course, the lunchroom. The epic carom tournaments and the table tennis table meant that the lunchroom was where we were to be mostly found. Then one day, along came our lecturer Mr. Syed Rehan wanting us to organize an IT exhibition of sorts — “Digital Fusion”. And so began the grand journey of the Student Activity Club (SAC) of APIIT. Committees were formed with no democracy the first time around and just like that, we set about shaping what student life at APIIT would look like.

Moving ahead

Hope Rocks Committee

What started as an IT exhibition soon became a whirlwind of Cricket 6s, Basketball, Football 7s, pool tournaments, parties, carols, and also our still-in-publication newsletter, APIITIZER. It would have been fun to settle into a calendar full of parties and sports days but we knew we could push this further and start making a difference to those who needed it. Hope Rocks, a concert in aid of the Hope cancer hospital was one of our biggest projects at the time and one that APIIT will forever be proud of. Being able to say that the student life at APIIT could be something meaningful to the community at large was and is still a big deal.

We thought we rocked APIIT. Admittedly, we did. But we were still growing and the best was yet to come.

Growing up

I look at APIIT today and am astounded at the progress. The SAC has grown so much. Part of the maturing meant, focus, focus, and more focus. Student life here now focuses on

1. Sports

2. Social & Intercultural events

3. Professional Development & Community Service

This way there’s something for any student who is with us, to get involved in a way that’s most meaningful to them.

Sports — the adrenaline rush that is needed to kick studies back into full gear. The cricket 6s and basketball tournaments at inter APIIT level still seem to be hot favourites. With the increased focus though, we’ve continued to expand and have added badminton, table tennis and carom. These continue to be organized at an inter APIIT level and many of these events bring Alumni back too!

When we started, we had a few inter university matches. Now we’ve evolved and I see our cricket, rugby, football, basketball, badminton & swimming teams (yes we have all of that) working hard to play for their annual encounters with other universities and also participate at inter university events. One more way in which we’ve grown that is incredible to see is how females are actively taking up sports at APIIT!

The students have also introduced Sports Extravaganza at an inter university level and this has brought out the competitive spirits & camaraderie amongst the participating universities.

These events create a unique bond between all contending campuses. I happened to dig up one of the posters for this mega event and couldn’t help but take a walk down memory lane, wishing I was part of all the excitement again.

Social activities are a big part of being in university. Our social team has ensured that we have our fair share of entertainment to get away from the stress of exams, assignments and academic life in general - parties, chilled musical evenings, Awurudu Blast, APIIT Fun day and carols at the end of the year. My personal favourites are those informal, short jamming sessions on level 5. There was always much fun and laughs at these events, with many an anecdote for later.

Hope Rocks was big back in the day, and over the years we’ve gone several notches up. First we held Teen Aid, a concert in aid of teen mothers. A few years after that, the (then) first ever inter-university talent search in music and arts came to life under the name Tantalize. This went on to become an annual event and it became a much awaited event in the university calendars and has brought out many talented dancers, vocalists & musicians to the limelight.

Tantalize finals & Proceeds to set up IT Lab in Polonnaruwa

Professional Development is key to personal development. This wing has made incredible progress in organizing workshops, conducting training in IT for the youth, taking on community service projects, and working towards relief management operations during any calamity in Sri Lanka.

Toastmasters Christmas Meeting

An offspring of the unit has been the Toastmasters Club at APIIT — one of the youngest clubs in the country in terms of member base. Having watched this club grow over the years, it amazes me to witness the skill levels of the speakers and leaders. They are confident, spontaneous & are always on the look to improve themselves. Every year we’ve had a member compete at a National Level and for the first time last year, at an International Level. We’ve had Area Governors and District Level representation at such a young age. For a club full of students, this is an amazing achievement.

Inaugural Colours Night 2010

The annual Colours Night recognizes all the students who participate and organize these events and is a moment to sit back and look at the APIIT year with much warmth and pride.

All of this, started with a request to do an IT exhibition over a game of carom. Reflecting on the past years, we’ve come a long way from our not so humble beginnings, and what a journey it has been.

Our students are vibrant & talented. They are full of life. This is what makes APIIT’s hallways a buzz of activity & chatter.

Kudos to the SAC and the students for making APIIT a place where anyone can feel right at home.