Yenuli: A Star in the Making
By Priyangwada Perera
“I don’t know whether I can say I read a lot. But I do read selected books. That is according to my interest. I read mysteries, thrillers and horror stories. My most favourite have been Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes and books of Roald Dahl. But from what I read, I think I fell in love with words and writing. What happened to me after reading, was that I also wanted to write.
I was charmed by thoughts and expressions that I wanted to see my own ideas transform into words,” said Yenuli Dissanayake. Sixteen-year-old Yenuli, a student of Gateway College, Negombo recently won a Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Essay Competition, in the senior category.
The Gold Medal was for Yenuli’s submission in 2020 and this is her fourth consecutive participation in the competition. Her winning entry was a long poem on climate change. Yenuli was encouraged by her teachers to write more, upon seeing her writing. Yenuli’s Grade 7 teacher Jinani Gunawardane who is in the Poetry Club, recognised Yenuli’s potential.
Her praise and motivation lifted Yenuli. Soon, her English teacher, Srimathi introduced Yenuli to the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. The first time she took part, was in 2018 when her poem won a Bronze Medal. Yenuli continued to take part and in 2019 she won a Silver Award. As a natural progression in her writing, in 2020 she was awarded the Gold Award.
Yenuli is also a part of Story Makers’ League where she writes short stories. In the Asia competition, her story was selected as one of the top 50 winners. Yenuli’s story was published in the first of the compilations of two books, consisting of winning entries. “I like to annotate poems. I also love to analyse poems. When I read poems, I pay special attention to the expressions and literary devices.
I started by trying to use them in my work,” she spoke of her baby-steps in writing. She spoke of how much she is encouraged and supported at home. “My Ammi and Appachchi, my grandparents and my maternal uncle are my best source of support,” she said. In Yenuli, we found a girl with a whole bunch of interests.
It is not just that her imagination is vivid, her interests are also unique. She is also a member of the senior dance troupe of the school. She has also been a dramatist, taking part in Inter-House as well as Inter-School Drama competitions. Apart from writing poems in her leisure time, she enjoys roller skating and swimming. Yenuli has one goal. She wants to use her writing to make a difference. “That is why I like to write about the environment and climate change. My goal is to contribute towards these targets with the use of my writing.
She has her eyes set on the Model United Nations. She is already a participant. “When I grow up, I want to be working for them. I dream of the day I make valuable contribution towards environmental protection, especially thorough my writing,” she shared her dreams with us. Until Pre-Grade, she studied at Lyceum International School Gamapaha and for Year 1 at Regent International School Gampaha and halfway through Grade 2 she moved to Gateway International School, Negombo.
At Gateway, out of 12 subjects, she got Nine 9s which is equivalent to A* and three As. Yenuli is now studying Biology for Adavance Level. It is safe to say, consistency and brilliance has always been a way of life for Yenuli and as she grows older she will only continue to shine and make us all proud.