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Nethmini Weerasekera Oral History Interview

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Nethmini Weerasekera Oral History Interview


Nethmini Weerasekera’s interview begins with reflections on her upbringing in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Growing up with her parents and two older brothers, Weerasekera’s family lived modestly, with her father working as a photojournalist and her mother caring for the children and the home. Her closely interconnected family members and community would play a large role in her academics and relationships. It was thanks to all the friends she made and her easy access to her cousins that she was able to live a stress-free and fulfilling life. With the Buddhist community and Buddhism being an important part of Sri Lanka, the tranquility of her environment allowed her to be happy and content, thus allowing her to make connections that help her to this day, and helped with her transition to America.

Though growing up in a Buddhist country, her parents never pushed Buddhism on their children. She remains attracted to Buddhist practice because she enjoys Sri Lankan traditions that take place in temples, likes temple art, likes praying, and enjoys meeting friends and family members in temple settings. In America, she joined the Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon. However, she said that going to the building in Portland was completely different from going to temples in Sri Lanka, both architecturally and in terms of organization. Since there aren’t many Sri Lankans in the Portland area who go to temples daily, Nethmini would only go to the American temple when they were hosting prayer events, which was different from her normal daily trip to the temple in Sri Lanka.

Weerasekera’s parents also did not pressure her to pursue any specific career trajectory. In her interview, she notes that some of her friend’s parents push their children to be doctors, lawyers or engineers. On the contrary, her parents told her to do whatever she wants, even if it was a career that paid little. This same guidance was given to her brothers, but all three siblings are academically gifted and are pursuing careers requiring higher education.

Weerasekera notes that the rigor of high school in Sri Lanka is comparable to the freshman year of college for American STEM majors. Because of these experiences, she was able to quickly adapt to the academic environment in America. She began her higher education at Portland Community College, before transferring to Oregon State University. Her parents work as managers at a 7/11 convenience store, and during her summers and before entering OSU, she also worked at 7/11 to fund her schooling.

Her transition from PCC to OSU was a bit hard socially because she didn’t know anyone. She knew there were some Sri Lankan people, but didn’t know them or rarely saw them on campus. She also encountered racial discrimination. However, she feels these were minor issues because her classwork for her Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major were highly demanding of her attention. She is currently working at a lab where she is analyzing different protein structures and sequences. She isn’t certain about her future career choice but knows that she wants to work in a lab and be a Biochemical researcher.


Nethmini Weerasekera


Voices of Oregon State University Oral History Collection (OH 009)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


February 23, 2022


Hansani Kasthuriararchchi


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Hansani Kasthuriararchchi


Nethmini Weerasekera


Interview conducted over Zoom

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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