Director, Fellows Program
Sandarshi Gunawardena's involvement in the field of international education began when she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in the United States; a life-changing experience that grew into a passion and a second career. She joined VEF in January 2009 and prior to that she worked as the Assistant Director of the Office of International Programs and Services at George Mason University for close to 9 years. Previously, she worked as an EducationUSA adviser at the U.S.-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, and taught at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka.
Sandarshi's interest and commitment to the ideals of international education and cross cultural exchange has led her to be involved in leadership positions in NAFSA: Association of International Educators - where she was Chair of NAFSA's Region VIII 2012-2013; on NAFSA's Regional Advisory Committee 2013-2014; on the NAFSA Trainer Corps from 2006-2010; was NAFSA's Region VIII Community and Programming Representative 2003-2007; and a NAFSA Academy Class III mentor; and a mentor in NAFSA's Diversity Impact Program in 2016. She has presented at various national and international conferences. She also provides cross-cultural training/presentations and has conducted research on topics related to international education, public diplomacy and cross-cultural issues.
A native of Sri Lanka, she earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, a M.Arch (Architecture) from Clemson University, and a MA in Art History from George Mason University.
In her spare time, she dabbles with reading, studying and conducting research in architectural history, particularly on traditional, vernacular and Buddhist architecture, and has an interest in environment- behavior studies.