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ISLE Newsletter April 2006

Story posted October 13, 2010




Issue 3: April 14, 2006 * Visit ISLE on the Web


Welcome to the third issue of the ISLE Alumni Newsletter. Our last issue came out back in October, 2005. You'll hear from us every spring and fall, as long as we know where to find you!

Oppadupa: ISLE Activities and News

In the last issue, we reported the latest news and introduced to you the future projects of the Program. In this issue we will update you on some of those while providing some current news.

ISLE BOARD: ISLE's faculty board of directors has elected a new chair to serve the board for three years. Previously, Prof. Roger Jackson of Carleton had served as the board’s chair for the past six years, and before him Bowdoin’s Prof. John Holt for seventeen years. The new chair is Edmund Gilday, Professor of Religion from Grinnell College. In early January, 2006, at our administrator’s invitation, Prof. Gilday, along with the Grinnell College study abroad director (Richard Bright), visited Sri Lanka for a week to become more familiar with the details of the program. They were introduced to the ISLE staff, the University of Peradeniya Vice-Chancelor and Dean of the Arts Faculty, as well as our ISLE Peradeniya faculty. They also were taken on a brief tour to some of the archaeological sites that our students visit as a part of their material culture study. Remember Anuradhapura and Polonnaruva?

ISLE FACULTY: One of ISLE’S faculty members, Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne along with his spouse and daughter, are visiting the United States for a month this April. Professor Seneviratne has been invited by Whitman and Carleton Colleges to give some public lectures. Contact Jon Walters at Whitman (walterjs@whitman.edu) or Roger Jackson (rjackson@carleton.edu) if you are close to these campuses and want details of these events.

Professors Carmen Wickramagamage and P. Wickramagamage, together with their two children, will be in the U.S. on a Fulbright fellowship next year. It is our understanding that they will be at Holy Cross during 2006-07 academic year. More details on this will be covered in the next issue.

In our last issue, we reported that we have set up the Kamini de Abrew Fund in support of the Sinhala Department at the University of Peradeniya, where Kamini was an undergraduate student. Since then, we have contacted the university and are in the process of setting up a scholarship in her name for a deserving student of Sinhala language. Kamini’s sister is also sending some memorial money to us that she has received from Kamini’s students in Sri Lanka as well as some funds from the American embassy where Kamini worked for many years.

SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION: The arrangements for our Silver Jubilee (25 year) celebration next year in 2007 are underway. We are hoping to publish a commemorative silver jubilee volume ("Identity and Difference: Essays on Society and Culture in Sri Lanka") by the middle of this year. The volume contains 12 essays written by our Peradeniya faculty members. When the volume is ready, it will be made available to our alumni simply for the cost of shipping it from Sri Lanka. We will announce the details on the ISLE website and will send you a special e-mail.

TWO-SEMESTER PROGRAM: As we also announced in the last issue, we are laying the groundwork to introduce a second semester of ISLE each year beginning in 2007-08. The details will be available on our website by the end of July 2006.

"I've realized how easy it would be for me to stay in Sri Lanka, how easy it can be to make a home for oneself, one's heart and mind, in a place on the other side of the world ... . I will miss the people, my friends, my family, the food, the tea, and the afternoon light unbearably ..."
-- 2005 Student

2005 Students Thanks to Dr. Lynn Kremer, Associate Professor of Theater from Holy Cross and director for the 2005 ISLE Program, we have successfully finished the program in December with all 19 students returning to their homes safely. This also means that we have 19 more alumni who carry back home memories, like the rest of you, of their past experiences with ISLE.

The program wrapped up with the usual mix of joy and sadness and, we hope, some sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Our students saw first-hand the progress - and the struggles - of a post-tsunami Sri Lanka. An "inspiring" trip to Kalmunai, an area on the east coast that was very hard hit by the tsunami, gave many students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get first-hand accounts from Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese about their tragic losses and rebuilding efforts. Some witnessed a resiliency and grace that was hard to forget. As in many recent years, presidential elections also took place in November 2005. But fortunately this wasn’t as violent as we thought it might be.

You can see reports and photos from the 2005 group on our web site.

2006 Students

As of now, we're busy preparing for this next year's group of students who will travel to Sri Lanka in early August. We have accepted 20 students for this program. These students come from Bates (3), Bowdoin (6), Colby (1), Grinnell (4), Holy Cross (4) and Whitman colleges (2). The faculty director for the program will be Dr. Kathleen Ryor, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Carleton College. Professor Ryor's areas of teaching include Buddhist and East Asian art history and her research has concentrated on Chinese painting, garden practices and art patronage during the late imperial period.


Returning Alumni

Some of you may be returning to Sri Lanka during the summer months on various study grants from your colleges. If you are planning to return to Kandy, please do leave your addresses and phone numbers with Rosemary at ISLE Program Study Center in Kandy. The phone number for the Study Center is: (81) 2389947. When you call to give addresses, please let us know if you would like to help us by giving a talk to ISLE students or participating in any of their orientation activities. They would benefit from your experience. Returning students also can use the Study Center’s library every morning by becoming “Friends of ISLE.” "Friends of ISLE," including returning Fulbright students, pay a small deposit of $100 for use of the library for research purposes and lending privileges. $50 is returned at the conclusion of their stay. (We do not like to charge deposits and fees, but this policy has drastically reduced losses to our library collection. We hope you understand and will take advantage of access to our growing collection.)

Alumni News and Updates

We're so pleased to have heard back from so many alumni since we started this project. We've even located some people from the very earliest programs. Remember to send us the contact information for any ISLE alumni you may know to us at Isle@bowdoin.edu. You can see the list of the "missing" in our last issue (we update it as names/addresses come to us).

From Matt J. Nelson, 1991 program:

Greetings! A quick update: Since ISLE 1991, I've remained in touch with South Asia, but I've been drifting further and further to the north and west. Since 1997, I've been focusing, primarily, on Pakistan. After a few years of dissertation research in various parts of the Punjab, followed by some work with The Asia Foundation and the Asian Development Bank in Islamabad, I finished up my PhD in political science at Columbia. Then, after a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale and 2-1/2 years as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Bates, I landed up in London. I'm now in the Politics Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

If you find yourself in Russell Square, or, if you're casting about for a place to carry on with your academic interests in South Asia, please don't hesitate to get in touch. http://www.soas.ac.uk

Matt J. Nelson (ISLE '91, Bowdoin '93)

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From Trent Hone, 1992 program:

Life since Sri Lanka has been wonderful. I've co-authored a book that's just come out - "Battle Line: the United States Navy, 1919-1939." I've gotten married, and my wife Lisa and I are adopting a beautiful girl from Guatemala this spring. We make our home in the Washington, DC suburbs. If there are other ISLE alums in the area or just passing through, I would love to meet and swap stories.

Trent Hone
email: thone@comcast.net

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From Daniel Bass, 1993 program:

I was back in Sri Lanka this winter for two months, on a post-doctoral fellowship from the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies. I was updating research from my dissertation in anthropology, which I completed in 2004 at the University of Michigan, on the development of a distinct "Up-country Tamil" identity among "Indian Tamil" tea plantation workers. I was mostly based in Hatton, which has little appeal for the tourists, but was great for this anthropologist. I now teach in the Religious Studies department at Florida International University in Miami. I can unequivocally say that if it was not for ISLE, I would not be where I am today.

Daniel Bass

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From Jake Quigley, 1995 program:

My name is Jake Quigley, and I was a student at ISLE in 1995. I just received my first newsletter from ISLE and was really excited about it. I now live in Breckenridge Colorado, where I am the director of a youth mentoring program called Mountain Mentors ( www.mountainmentors.net). I have lived here since I graduated from Hobart College in 1996. I was also wondering if anyone knew updated information for the Hamza family in Arrupola. They were my host family, and I would like to get in touch with them. Thanks for keeping me in the loop with ISLE.

Take care,


From Sarah Buckley, 1996 program:

I arrived in Sri Lanka in early January 2006 to work for Mercy Corps, an international development agency based in Portland, Ore. where I'd worked from 1999-2004. After over a year break from the stress of international work and travel and with the lure of the possibility of returning to Sri Lanka, I eagerly jumped at the chance to return to Mercy Corps as their Regional Program Manager based in Hambantota. Mercy Corps is doing small-scale community and economic development work throughout the south and east, mostly through existing local NGOs. Let me know if you know of any great community and NGO initiatives down here that deserve some assistance. There's about a dozen of us in the Hambantota office, a team of great Sri Lankans that I've already grown to love.

Please visit if you're in the Hambantota area--all ISLE alumn, staff and professors are instantly welcome in our home where we've got an extra bedroom if you want to stay for a couple days. My e-mail is sarahsophiabuckley@hotmail.com, my mobile is 94(0)773215414 and our office is at 114 Gonnaruwa Rd. in Hambantota. We should be here at least through early 2007 and probably longer. Mercy Corps will certainly be here for years to come. Thanks for pulling the newsletter together. It's great to see what others are doing, especially all of the innovative work in Sri Lanka.

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From Laura Mitchell, 1997 program:

Hi Padma! What a great idea! I enjoyed reading the first issue and looking at the pictures. I think of ISLE often. It was a shaping experience both as a student and an employee. Further, I continue to be in contact with my host family and hope to get back there within the next two years.

I am currently living in Brooklyn, NY. I completed my Masters in Social Work this past Spring and passed my licensing exam this fall! Currently, I am working for the Epilepsy Foundation-NYC as a social worker. And, in general, my life is full and good. I now also have two beautiful neices!

I'm glad to hear you and the ISLE program are well. I'd love to visit you and John in Maine sometime.

All the best,


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From Jessie Cmaylo, 1998 program:

I recently got a job in Grants Management at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This summer, Brandon (my boyfriend), Sienna (my cat), and I made the long trip from Florida to Maine. We had a short, but relaxing, stay at my parents place in Kennebunkport and then moved to Boston in September. Since moving to Boston, I have seen a lot of Corey McCowan and Heather McLane. Neena Mahadev came up for a visit over Thanksgiving and we all got together to reminisce about the hot Lankan nights, and cooked a Sri Lankan feast for seven. We have discussed, over Thanksgiving and our monthly brunch dates, planning an ISLE reunion (for a coalition of the willing) in Sri Lanka in the summer of 2007. We'd love to hear if people are interested! Email: jcmaylo@yahoo.com

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From David Feinberg, 1998 program:

Hello fellow ISLE-nders. I miss the 98' folks and Fulbrighters, too, and think of you often. O to prowl the Lank once again!

The Alumni newsletter is a great idea; it's wonderful to read about everyone's experiences. Since finishing the program in 1998 I've also done some travelling (West Coast with Americorps National Service) and some studying (Master's of Religion at Emory, now a law degree at Virginia). I'm also pleased to report that I've done some marrying - I tied the knot in August 2005 with a fellow Bowdoin alumnus, Lib Mone. Lib and I live in Washington, D.C., and we'd love to host any ISLE folks who are in town. My email: df5q@virginia.edu

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From Sarah Litsch, 1999 program:

I just recieved an e-mail with the link to the ISLE alumni newletter. I was ecstatic (and sad) to be able to read the news and have a glimpse of Sri Lanka.

About me:

I am currently in my fourth year of medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. I am planning to enter a family practice residency somewhere in New England after graduation in June 2006.

Though I have not been able to visit Sri Lanka since leaving the ISLE program, I was able to seek out Sri Lankan food in London and NYC...the highlight of both trips! Also, as with many other graduates of the ISLE program who have since entered the medical profession, I am aware of medical need in third world countries and hope to be able to practice international medicine in the future.

Again, thanks so much for forwarding me the website. I hold my experience at the ISLE program as one of the most influential and enjoyable of my life.

Sarah Litsch

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From Gavin Irby, 1999 program:

I'm currently in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright grant for the purposes of studying modern Sinhala literature. Last year I was also in Sri Lanka on a FLAS grant to study Sinhala and Tamil. I am a PhD student at the University of Virginia Religious studies dept.

Gavin Irby

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From Tyler Ross, 2000 program:

I finished my graduate studies at the University of Washington and am now working as an analyst at a health studies research institution in Seattle. The ISLE program was my first abroad experience, and now traveling is a top priority in my life. I feel my return trip to Sri Lanka is emminent. Regrettably, I have lost contact with a good friend of mine, Ruvindra Kirivandala, who was attending Peradinya in dental school in 2000. If fortune shines, and you find him, please let me know.

Tyler Ross

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From Laura Huebner, 2001 program:

Hi All!

I am interning currently at a crises center in Framingham, MA. My internship is part of my graduate program at Lesley University, where I am studying to be an Art Therapist. I will most likely graduate sometime next year. Then who knows. I am living in Somerville MA and enjoying being near the sights and sounds of Boston.

I miss San Francisco and its warm weather, but slowly I am learning to cope with the bitter New England winters. This summer I will go to Bali on a herbal healing trip for two weeks and I am hoping to stop by Sri Lanka while I'm on that side of the world. However, I need to be careful to not get Dengue again or else things will not be good! I hope everyone is doing well. I'd love to hear what you're up to. If anyone will be in or around Sri Lanka in August it would be great to meet up! Email: huebnerlaura@yahoo.com

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From Paul Hastings, 2003 program:

Namaskar Padma,

How are you? I can't believe how quickly time continues to pass. It feels like yesterday that I was in Kandy. Here's an update on myself and David Owen. Since we've been working together and we met on the ISLE Program, I thought it would be a good idea to send in a few words.

Paul Hastings and David Owen have returned to the U.S. after living and working in Kalimpong, India, for five months. While there, we incorporated an NGO, the United World Society (Sanyukta Sansar in Hindi/Nepali), conducted community and NGO surveys in Kalimpong and Darjeeling City, and studied intensive Nepali language. We plan on returning in August to start two community centers in villages on the outskirts of Kalimpong. The community centers will house public libraries and creative resources (instruments, arts supplies). Educational and environmental programs will be run in and out of the centers. In the long term, we hope to make the centers self-sustainable by helping establish non-profit community businesses, with a portion of the profit going to the centers.

We are living in Swarthmore, PA, where David is finishing his degree. We are fundraising and working on our websites this spring. You can find more information about us at www.unitedworldsociety.org

I (Paul) have of course been in touch with Dan Tobin, who is in Bolivia with the PeaceCorps, and Prescott Hart, who has been a travelling rambler. We've also been in touch with Kanchuka Dharmasiri, who is finishing her Masters at UMASS Amherst.

Much Peace and Love,

Paul and David

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Get in Touch

We love to hear from our alumni. It is truly amazing what some of you are doing, and reading about how ISLE helped direct or shape our students' lives in downright inspiring. Please share!

We are interested in the quickest of hellos, with short notes telling us what you are now doing, as well as longer pieces. Please contact us with your ideas!

You may send any comments, writings, contact information, well-founded rumors, etc. to us at:


The next issue of the ISLE Alumni Newsletter will come out in October, 2006.

ISLE Web Site

Be sure to bookmark the ISLE web site for information on relief fund activities, current news, and more.

That’s all for this edition of the ISLE Program Newsletter. Please let us know your thoughts on it, and if you send in comments or writings of any kind, please be clear about whether they are intended for use in the newsletter. Also, be sure to let us know if your email address should change!


Editor in Chief: Sree Padma Holt
Content Editor/Production: Lorry Fleming

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