An Icon of Wisdom, Modesty, and Principles – Goolbai Gunasekera, Co-founder and Founder Principal of Asian International Schools

Goolbai Gunasekera is the Co-founder and Founder Principal of Asian International Schools, Global. Going back to where her fundamentals were laid, she shared that both her parents were educationalists. She shares the nationalities of America and India by being born a loving daughter to an American mother and a North-Indian father. 

Goolbai confesses that she loves being a teacher as well as her career and that it is embodied in her blood, being passed down from her parents. During her childhood, she had the opportunity to be educated in nine different schools in three different countries, which are India, the United States, and Sri Lanka. While most children would complain and fuss, this rapid change and the inter-country education using different methods have not bothered her. In fact, she finds it a blessing and a cause for joy. Not only does she have an Honours degree in History, but she also took piano lessons seriously enough to qualify as a teacher. Now, she says that she just plays it for her own pleasure.

Recounting the early days of AIS, Goolbai mentioned that AIS was the lifelong dream of W. P. Perera, who was a businessman. It was he that originally approached her, and with her initiated the plan in 1989. 

According to Goolbai, the project was an instant success, given the restless desire of the community to obtain an English education at the time. She has officially given rest to her teaching career but remains a very active and influential member of the AIS board. Goolbai does not hesitate to spread her knowledge and diligence towards the community through educational articles she publishes in magazines such as LMD. Seeing the solutions foreign countries use to deal with chaotic educational situations and how they work towards the advancement of education is her source of inspiration, making her want to find and spread ideas for positive solutions to local issues based on her extensive experience and knowledge in the field. 

Reminiscing about her success, she identifies key factors that led her to where she is now. First and foremost, doing what she loves has helped her never get tired through the most hectic days, allowing her to still give her best. She also believes it is vital to know what you are doing in order to be successful at it. In the most basic terms, having an incomplete idea does not help one be successful in a certain aspect because there is always more that one has to know and improve on. Thirdly, having a generally competent knowledge of factors outside of your teaching scale that is relevant general knowledge is also a factor that aids success, in her opinion. Adding to her the amazing sense of humor that professionals in her career should particularly have is important to get by successfully among children who come from different places, traits, people, and attitudes. Goolbai says that this is often helpful when combatting a stressful day. Nothing a little laugh can’t fix.

Covid has impacted almost every corner of the world, and students are among those that are affected the most. Goolbai confidently shared that with an excellent principal currently leading AIS, they have managed to navigate the learning process through online alternatives, without failing to take necessary steps and decisions when required to. According to her, STEAM education has been a part of the AIS culture even before the pandemic took place. When it comes to the faculty and staff, she believes AIS is blessed with the best. During the early days of the school, there were foreign teachers, and according to her, the strength and friendship among the faculty members were one thing she witnessed and admired. However, friendliness with children was not supposed to be familiar. The tireless supervision of her from academics to hygiene has played a key role in forming AIS into the quality facility it is now.

This power icon does not identify herself as a feminist, but rather an individual who encourages equity, be it for men or women. As a principal and the leading individual of an institute, she lived by her principles, such as eliminating favoritism, and no religious or racial discrimination. “National Pride was always encouraged as well as national UNITY,” continuing to state, “Students and teachers were told this was an international school and it had a unifying atmosphere.

“The true test of character is your courtesy to someone who can be of no possible use to you,” is a quote she lives by, sharing her wisdom with the world in every way she can.

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