When Worlds Collide #95: Waiting for Sombath Somphone…

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday broadsheet newspaper on 15 December 2013

My friend Sombath Somphone has been a gentle, generous and soft-spoken man as long as I have known him, which is over 15 years. Beneath that beaming face, however, is a sharp intellect, caring heart and quiet resolve.

He knows social change takes time, effort and comes in small steps. Especially in conservative societies and tight political systems like those in his country – Laos, one of the world’s five remaining socialist states (along with China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam).

Sombath isn’t a politician. Nor is he an activist, although some have given him that label. The Sombath I know is a sensitive thinker who pauses to reflect on where his country and the world are headed. He is also a teacher and mentor who has helped thousands of young…

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