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ISLE Newsletter October 2006

Story posted October 13, 2010


Issue 4: October 20, 2006 * Visit ISLE on the Web


Welcome to the fall issue of the ISLE Alumni Newsletter. Our last issue came out back in spring, 2006. Response has been wonderful, both to the news we send out, and in hearing from alumni with updates and interesting stories. We appreciate you keeping in touch with us.

There is never a dull moment in Sri Lanka! If you have been following the news from Sri Lanka, you know what I mean. Things have heated up in the last few months so much that the "ceasefire" has been confined to only paper. The unrest has received so much media attention in the US that some of the public, who are otherwise quite uninformed about Sri Lanka, might have thought that the entire country was literally burning. The serious trouble in the north and northeast happened just a few weeks before the 2006 group of students were to leave for the island. Thanks to all the parents and the students who were with us throughout, paying attention to the expert opinions we shared from our Sri Lankan faculty, friends and embassy officials.

Oppadupa: ISLE Activities and News

2006 Program: In spite of doubts from some quarters, the 2006 program started with the right kind of bang. Although the situation in the country has been tumultuous in the north and northeast, we are fortunate that the student group is acting in a very mature manner thus far. The director, Professor Kathleen Ryor from Carleton, is feeling very lucky not only to have a good group of students, but also to be assisted by very able and well-intentioned program assistants. The Program assistants, Phil Friedrich (Bowdoin) and Flynn Jebb (Holy Cross), who participated in the 2004 Program and graduated this last spring, complement each other so well. To follow this year's program activities, just look for the link on our homepage and it will take you right there.

ISLE FACULTY: We announced in the last newsletter that Carmen Wickramagamage, her husband P. Wickramagamage, and their two children will be in the U.S. for the 2006-07 academic year. Both Carmen and Wickrama will be teaching in the spring at Holy Cross. In the fall, the ISLE Program put together a lecture tour for them to visit some of the ISLE colleges. Carmen will be visiting Bowdoin, Carleton, Colby, Grinnell, Swarthmore, and Whitman to give a lecture on "Bearing Children, Bearing Arms, Bearing Witness: Thoughts on the Unbearable Heaviness of Being 'Woman' in Contemporary Sri Lanka." Wickrama will be giving lectures on "Nature of Climate Change and its Impact on the Sri Lankan Economy" at Grinnell and Bowdoin this semester, and at Whitman next semester.

"Don’t place another student with my family because I'm going to deliberately miss my flight so I can stay here with them forever..."
-- 2004 Student Evaluation Comment

FULBRIGHT NEWS: Four of the five Fulbrighters in Sri Lanka this year are ISLE alumni. They are: Toby David ISLE '04; Delia Kulukundis ISLE '04; Sarah Wright ISLE '02; and Philip Friedrich ’03. As I stated above, Phil is also the program assistant for this year. He is the fourth program assistant who was selected also by Fulbright the same year.

Other ISLE alumni in Sri Lanka: Anne Blackburn of ISLE '86, who is associate professor at Cornell, is in Sri Lanka this semester working on a research project. We also heard that Daniel Kent of ISLE '96 is in SL working on his dissertation. Sarah Buckley of ISLE '96 is also in Hambantota working for an N.G.O. I'm sure there may be some other Islers traveling in Sri Lanka as well.

SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION: Our plans to celebrate ISLE’s 25th anniversary are underway. Bowdoin’s president, Swarthmore’s provost, and administrative representatives from other member colleges are planning to attend the celebration. Tentatively, the celebration date is fixed as Monday, January 8, at the University of Peradeniya. If you are returning to Sri Lanka and plan to be in Kandy on this date, please let us know. We would like to have you at the celebration. If you can’t make to the event itself, we can arrange time for you to meet our visting college representatives at the ISLE Center on the previous day.

BEGINNING OF A NEW PHASE: Our ISLE Program is hoping to take a new turn in its 26th year. We are planning to introduce two programs each year, one each semester beginning in fall 2007. We are assuming that we will have a smaller group of students in each of these semesters, numbering anywhere between 11 and 16. We'll hire a returning student as a program assistant who will be helped by a permanent assistant from Sri Lanka. If you are interested, please contact me (Sree Padma) at: spadma@bowdoin.edu.

Alumni News and Updates

Thanks to those who send us news and updates about themselves, and who send us leads on people we are trying to find. We welcome your email, whether you're just saying hello or sending inspirational news of your volunteering efforts or successes in your professional lives. Below are the latest reports - please keep sending. We'll post your news in the next issue. Send to us here: Isle@bowdoin.edu. Also, if you see anyone you know on our "missing" list (published in an earlier newsletter, but updated as we hear from you), please let us know!

From Michael Chauss, 1983 program:

I am a 1983 ISLE alum. I would love to receive the newsletter and updates .... It is very exciting to me to see that the program continues to thrive. Participating in the program was far and away the highlight of college for me. I'd love to hear about alumni plans for the silver jubilee!

Best regards,
Michael Chauss

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From Utz Mcknight, 1984 program:

I happened to be browsing on the net and came upon your website about the ISLE program. I was a participant in 1984 while a student at Swarthmore..... I enjoyed the exchange program very much and am very glad you have kept it going.

Utz Mcknight

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Dondro head lightView from Dondra head light.

From Michael Trainer, 1996 program:

I love reading about what is going on in Sri Lanka and with former students. I returned to Sri Lanka over the summer, I saw my host family and went to the village of Ambalangoda where I studied during my independent study on ISLE and as a Fulbright scholar.

The photos I sent were from my trip this past summer back to Sri Lanka. After raising almost $10,000 (together with the children at Redwood Day School) [in Oakland, CA, where Michael is Director of Enrichment and After School Programs - Ed.] for the tsunami affected youth of Sri Lanka, I wanted to return to check in with family and friends. As you may know, telephone codes changed nationally and I had quite a difficult time reaching the family I lived with in Ambalangoda. I am sorry to say my Gurunasse passed, but I had the honor to meet his two grandchildren for the first time. I also touched base with Sarah Buckley who is doing development work in Hambantota.

LotusPhoto by M. Trainer

The photos are just a few representatives of over a thousand I took on my trip through Japan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. The purple lotus and fresco are from Dambula, the image of the sea is from the Dondra head light house, and then there is the image with me and my host family.

Tainer and familyMichael with host family members.

It was wonderful to be back, and I would love to touch base with any old ISLE students. I am currently applying to graduate programs (international education/social sciences) and would love to hear of any recommendations from ISLE alums. I can be reached michael_trainer@yahoo.com Aibowan!

Michael Trainer

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From Benjamin Schonthal, 1997 program:

I'm currently working on my PhD in History of Religions at the University of Chicago, focusing on issues of religion and politics in Sri Lanka. I recently got married and Paula and I hope to be heading back to Sri Lanka soon for an extended stay. We'd love to meet up with anyone who's over there.

Benjamin Schonthal

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"I plan to visit [Sarah Wright] in Sri Lanka next summer... if you want to join the reunion tour, send an email..."
--Heather McLane

From Heather McLane 1998 program:

I have been teaching high school social studies and I just started teaching at a school where I get to teach Asian Studies! We started the year with a Lanka slide show and we've been getting pretty deep into Buddhist thought. In a couple more weeks they should be close to enlightenment. Two years ago I taught in Thailand and randomly met Sarah Wright, an ISLE'er from another year. We still keep in touch and I plan to visit her in Sri Lanka next summer. Corey McCowan and Jessie Cmaylo will hopefully be joining me. If you want to join the reunion tour, send an email to: hjmclane@gmail.com.

Heather McLane

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From Eric Eichler, 2001 program:

Hello Dr. Holt. Just wanted to let you know that my e-mail address is changing ... also, a quick update on my plans: I am heading to India in one month to meditate and serve on vipassana courses in the tradition of S.N. Goenka, at his main center in Igatpuri a few hours east of Bombay. I plan on staying in India for at least 6 months.

Eric Eichler

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From Peter Cornell (formerly Herrick-Stare), 2001 program:

Hello! After reading all the comments on the website I thought I would write in and give an update myself. This is Peter Cornell (formerly Peter Herrick-Stare) from the 2001 program. Since leaving so much has happened! After Bates I attended Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and became a critical care nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. While there for almost three years I finished my masters in nursing. Currently I am orienting towards becoming an acute care nurse practitioner in the Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Hopkins. This past June I married a colleague from nursing school who is working on her family nurse practitioner as well as a masters in public health. Our plans include living and working abroad for the majority of our careers. I have stayed in touch with my family in Sri Lanka which is wonderful and have stayed very active serving on the board of directors for an NGO operating in Nepal called Porters Progress. I welcome and invite all contact. If anyone is ever in Baltimore and needs a place to stay please feel free to write. I can be reached at sapanaa@hotmail.com. I hope this finds you all well.

Peter Cornell

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From Colin Dieck, 2002 program:

After spending a month in India with Sarah Gettie [after assisting on the 2005 Program -- Ed.] I returned home, via brief visits to SL and London. I spent a month or so doing odd jobs and visiting friends before settling down to part-time work in the pipe-organ industry for a few months, which, besides providing much-needed income, also gave me the opportunity to travel to California in May, and Hawai'i in July. June was spent stage-managing a stage adaptation of Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" in Boston with Beau Jest Moving Theater Company, headed by Bowdoin professor Davis Robinson. In late July I flew to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I spent 6 weeks working as a technician in a Festival Fringe venue. Towards the end of that time, a Korean company who had a show in my venue invited me to work as their lighting designer, and now I'm in Seoul doing just that. If anyone is interested in seeing innovative physical theater with an antiwar theme, I'm hoping to put together a US tour in lat2007 or 2008, so please be in touch.


Colin Dieck

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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. 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 Spring, 2007.

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

To ISLE Web Site | 2006 Activities/Photos


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