To raise funds in order to remodel a computer lab in Sri Lanka and simultaneously promote attendance of athletic events, Aaron Jackson ’16 and Yohan Sumathipala ’16 started the initiative Swat Seventh Fan.
For every fan who signs up in advance and attends specified sporting events, Swat Seventh Fan raises one dollar for Education to Empowerment, an organization started by Jackson and Sumathipala that is dedicated to empowering youth through computer based learning.
“[Education to Empowerment] uses the power of 21st century information and technology to help those who are not as privileged to allow them to compete in this globalized world that is becoming more and more competitive,” Jackson said.
Sumathipala has traveled twice to the village in Sri Lanka where they will remodel the computer lab.
“Last summer I wanted to get a sense of what the exact needs of the village were and talk to the teachers and solidify what we were doing,” Sumathipala said.
The projected amount that will need to be raised in order to remodel this computer lab is $3,500. The money will go towards installing fans, rewiring and doing some electrical work, among other projects.
Jackson and Sumathipala intend to return to Sri Lanka over the summer to work on remodeling the computer lab. In order to raise this money, Jackson and Sumathipala came up with the idea of Swat Seventh fan to both encourage attendance at sporting events and to raise money for the computer lab.
“We are getting the energy and resources to help our cause, and we can give back to the Swat community in a very unique way of supporting our athletes in a way that hasn’t been apparent before,” said Jackson.
Swat Seventh Fan began at a women’s basketball game. Jackson and Sumathipala sat at a table at Sharples, asking people to sign up to attend the game. For every person who signed up and attended, a dollar was raised for Education to Empowerment. Currently, the money donated comes from Jackson’s Evans Scholarship.
Students have been impressed with the initiative and dedication that Jackson and Sumathipala have shown in raising money for Education for Empowerment.
“As with all good concepts, what really matters is who is behind them,” wrote Karl Barkley’ 15, a member of the men’s basketball team, in an email to the Phoenix. “Aaron is not only enthusiastic about this initiative but also willing to go to great lengths to promote it himself. He seems to genuinely care about raising the funds necessary to build the computer lab.”
In the future, Swat Seventh Fan intends to be at as many sporting events as possible and hopes to have members of different teams help to get people to sign up and to make speeches at halftime events to increase awareness.
To some members of the community, like Adan Leon ’17, who attended the women’s basketball game for Swat Seventh Fan, the poor attendance at sporting events is an issue that needs to be solved.
“Swatties seem to consider supporting our sports teams a lost cause and would rather focus on their studies,” wrote Leon in an email to the Phoenix. “While we may only be a D3 school, this is no reason to give up on people who manage to balance two enormous commitments. It’s pretty sad that a school so concerned with ‘world citizenship’ can’t give 15 minutes of time to do something kind for the people immediately around us and in the greater world community.”
Through Swat Seventh Fan, Jackson and Sumathipala are hoping to improve the lives of people in Sri Lanka, as well as to encourage support for Swarthmore Athletics.
“I think it is important to support all the things [Swatties] do, especially when we’re in an environment where we’re juggling 50 million things anyway,” said Jackson. “The more we’re able to come together for just being able to support one another and see each other succeed–I think that’s the greatest gain that you can possibly have. I’m glad to lead [Swat Seventh Fan] and I’d like to ask anyone out there who is interested to join us.”