Story posted October 13, 2010
Waterfall, Nuwara Eliya
Issue 6: October 03, 2007 * Visit ISLE on the Web
Welcome to the fall 2007 issue of the ISLE Alumni Newsletter. This is a follow up to our spring 2007 issue. This newsletter flourishes mostly on your responses. The more we hear from you, the more news your fellow alumni will also share. You can write about yourself or the organization you are working for or any other news that would be relevant or interesting to your fellow alumni, including reminiscing.
As far as the political atmosphere in Sri Lanka is concerned, there is some respite in the east while the north remains the focus of strife between the government forces and the LTTE. The rest of the island is faring as well as before. If you are interested in getting news about Sri Lanka on a regular basis, we recommend the following online news sources:
Our first shorter 15 week fall semester of ISLE Program started in late August with twelve students and the program assistant Flynn Jebb, arriving in Katunayake airport on the 24th. For more details about the beginning of the current program, go to our webpage.
ISLE staff/faculty in the USA:
Mr. Herath came to teach Sinhala in the summer language program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, this summer. Our ISLE alumni at Wisconsin took good care of him. We even heard from another alumnae who hosted him on a Chicago visit.
Mr. Sumanasena also made a trip to America, more precisely to the east coast, landing in New York and traveling to the north as far as Maine. He visited Bowdoin and Bates faculty and administrative staff, including Bowdoin’s president Barry Mills and his wife Karen. Before arriving in the US, Sumanasena contacted a number of his fans (of course, ISLE alumni) in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. His fans treated him so kindly that now he is hatching a plan to return to the states once again before the expiration of his visit visa. During his visit, Sumanasena confessed that among all the varieties of food that his fans treated him with, he liked Indian food the best! If you ask him why, Sumanasena would, through an enigmatic smile, reveal the secret of his predilection: “Because it is so similar to Sinhala food.”
Wickramagamages (Carmen and Wick) are busy teaching and rearing their kids at Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington, this semester. They plan to return to Sri Lanka in January.
Fulbrighters in Sri Lanka
Last year’s batch, as we reported earlier, were Toby David and Delia Kulukundis. Their grants expired in July after which they returned to the US.
The present batch of ISLErs on Fulbright fellowships is Philip Friedrich and Sarah Wright. Their grants will keep them in Sri Lanka until October. Phil wants to stick around in Sri Lanka a little longer. He will return to the US for Christmas and then travel back to Sri Lanka at the end of January as an ISLE program assistant with the spring group of students.
The new batch of Fulbrighters will be arriving in October. In this batch, we know only one ISLEr (though there may be others, please let us know if you know who they are), Ben Schonthal, a graduate student working for Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He was on the program in 1997 and graduated from Bowdoin in 1999. Let us hope that more ISLErs will be able to get Fulbright fellowships in the following year. We know that some applied, but weren’t able to fulfill the application requirements as they had a late start on contacting language instructors etc. Those who are serious about applying for fellowships like Fulbrights might benefit reading the note that Delia Kulukundis sent us. Click for details here. Those who are contemplating more exploration in Sri Lanka to figure out their future research plans might be interested in responding to the ad that we reproduced below.
AISLS dissertation planning grants are designed to enable graduate students intending to do dissertation research in Sri Lanka to make a pre-dissertation visit to Sri Lanka to investigate the feasibility of their topic, to sharpen their research design, or to make other practical arrangements for future research. Applicants will normally be enrolled in a PhD program (or equivalent) in a US university. There are no citizenship requirements.
Recipients receive $275/week, for a period of up to eight weeks, and one round-trip airfare from the U.S. Applicants should normally plan to spend at least six weeks in Sri Lanka. Applicants whose research will also require spending time in libraries or archives in a third country may request funds for up to two weeks for this purpose, beyond the time spent in Sri Lanka.
This year’s competition deadline is 3 December 2007.
Complete information, including application materials, is available at www.aisls.org
Buddhist Shrine in Kataragama
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 news or updates on your whereabouts. Send to us here: Isle@bowdoin.edu. Also, if you see anyone you know on our "missing" list, please let us know!
From Patrick Flaherty, 1989 program:
Had no idea that an ISLE alumni group existed until this February, when I was "googling" the ISLE program from a laptop in a hotel lobby in Kandy trying to locate the old ISLE Center after a search of my own neural circuits got me no where. Can't believe it’s been nearly 18 years since my semester in Sri Lanka in 1989! I never did find the ISLE Center (I'm thinking Rajapahilla Mawatha but drove up and down to no avail), but it is fun to send memories back to others who have been through the vivid experiences of Sri Lanka.
1989 was both a turbulent time for Sri Lanka and for me personally and I'd always longed to go back at a more tranquil time for both. February 2007 seemed an ideal time. I'd just come off a long three year political campaign (ultimately unsuccessful, alas), and a month of beaches and Buddhist temples with my partner Kurt seemed a perfect antidote. It was! While friends and family at home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were experiencing one of our coldest Februaries, we were experiencing the cave temple at Dambulla, the stupas at Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, snorkeling in the Indian Ocean, sitting on our guest house balcony overlooking the sea in Galle, or taking a wildlife safari in Yala. While soldiers and check-points are ubiquitous, the situation is much improved from the dusk-to-dawn curfew of 1989. Other impressions: tuk-tuk's and cell phones are everywhere now, and whereas in 1989 a call home was a hit-or-miss affair requiring operator assistance, in 2007 my Sri Lankan cell connected me crisply, simply and cheaply. I also realized how spoiled we were in the ISLE Program to have Sri Lanka's best professors accompany us on visits to historic sites.
We also visited the tidy offices of Equal Ground, a lesbian and gay human rights organization in Columbo whose Executive Director, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, is also active internationally in human rights work. Equal Ground is working to increase understanding for LGBT Sri Lankans and decriminalize homosexuality. We came back committed to raising at least $1000 for Equal Ground, so if any ISLE alumni would like to assist in this endeavor, please contribute! My employer, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, has agreed to serve as fiscal agent, and tax-deductible contributions can be made online at www.mkelgbt.org (please note 'Sri Lanka' in the contribution form). More about Equal Ground is at www.equal-ground.org.
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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, 2008.
Be sure to bookmark the ISLE web site for information on 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