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ISLE Program

ISLE Alumni Newsletter November 2013

Story posted November 21, 2013

Ayubowan! Greetings from Brunswick, Maine! We hope you are doing well, and we thank those of you who have reached out to let us know what you are up to these days. In this season’s alumni newsletter, you’ll find updates on our Fall program, information on our Spring program, news of our newest consortium member, and of course, updates from your fellow alumni!

 Fall 2013 Program

If you have been following our Fall 2013 program, you will know that it is already Session III! Below you will find a few of the exciting new elements that we have added to the program!

This year’s Northern Tour included visits to Batticaloa and Jaffna, where the students visited Jaffna University and met with University administrators.

jaffna u

Pictured Above: students meet with the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University

In an effort to bring ISLE students closer to the students at Peradeniya, we organized a dormstay. Each student was paired with a university student, who served as host for the overnight trip.


Pictured Above: four ISLE students play music for their Sri Lankan hosts during an informal performance. The Sri Lankan Students also shared their favorite songs.

We offered a new academic elective course this semester called Traditional Medicine, taught by Dr. Abey Rathnayake in the Department of Sociology at University of Peradeniya. Dr. Rathanyake, who obtained his Bachelors degree from Bowdoin College, concluded the course with a day of field trips to various Ayurvedic medical and research sites.

 ayurveda class

Pictured Above: Dr. Rathnayake (2nd from right) and the ISLE students visit the Bandaranaike Ayurveda Research Institute

Check out the Fall 2013 students' posts and photos on their group Tumblr blog!

Spring 2014 Program

Our four Spring 2014 students are preparing for their departure in late January to begin their semesters in Sri Lanka. Leading the group as Program Director is ISLE alumnus and former program assistant, Philip Friedrich. Phil is a Ph.D candidate at University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on historical interactions between Buddhism and South Asia’s other major religious traditions. Stay tuned on the ISLE website and Facebook for updates on the Spring ’14 program!

Gustavus Adolphus College joins the ISLE Consortium!

We are thrilled to welcome Gustavus Adolphus College, in Saint Peter, Minnesota as the newest member of the ISLE consortium. Professor Joshua Brown, Assistant Professor in Philosophy, serves as the ISLE faculty representative at Gustavus. He is a Carleton graduate and former ISLE student! We look forward to having Gustavus Adolphus students on the program.

Alumni in Sri Lanka

 Earlier, I mentioned the names of the ISLE alumni who were selected for this year’s Fulbright fellowships to return to Sri Lanka. Some of them are teaching English as ETA fellows and others are on research grants. Below is the comprehensive list. 

Alex Regan (ETA)

Emma Cutler (Research)

Kelsi Sullivan (ETA)

Sarah Koehler (Research)

Malik Neal (Research)

Aimee Douglas (Research) Aimee did the ISLE years ago and is currently a PhD candidate in anthropology at Cornell.

Alumni Updates

 Rafi Baeza (ISLE ’89)

I was recently hired as the new Creative Director at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. I am thrilled to be working at such a prestigious institution with a world-class collection. Currently, I am creating the graphics for the Wizard of Oz Exhibit. The collection includes the Wicked Witch of The West's Hourglass, a dress worn by Judy Garland for the movie, and a Munchkin outfit. Very Exciting! The exhibit runs from October 12- March 30, 2014. Please ask for me if you come by during the week!


Pictured Above: Rafi's latest work

Michael Kenny (ISLE ’02)

Here's my first update since I was an ISLE student in 2002 and a program assistant in 2003.  I got married to Jessica Van Houten in 2006.  We grew up a mile down the street from each other in Highland, NY and went on our first date in 1997.  We spent about six years in New York, NY going to grad school and working.  We had a daughter named Isla in April 2011 and a son named Leo this past May. We recently moved back to the area we're from -- Poughkeepsie, NY -- to be closer to our families and have better access to the outdoors.  I'm a lawyer at Wiggin and Dana in New York, NY, and Jess is home caring for various critters, including our children. 

One of the ways that I try to re-live my ISLE days is by going to the restaurant Banana Leaf on West 28th Street whenever I can.  (Http://www.bananaleafnewyork.com/bananaleaf/).  It's great, and the owner Raj Perera seems psyched to meet folks who have lived in Sri Lanka.


Pictured Above: Michael's son, Leo


Pictured Above: Michael's daughter, Isla

Flynn Jebb (ISLE’04)

Flynn returned to Sri Lanka to conduct research for a Master's thesis she is completing as a Rotary Peace Fellow at ICU in Tokyo. She was lucky enough to visit with old friends and extended host family, as well as some former professors and ISLE staff. There was even a short road trip with Phil Friedrich (ISLE '04) and Sumanasena thrown in for old times sake! After Sri Lanka, Flynn traveled to New Delhi where she completed a two-month internship with Oxfam India before returning to Tokyo. 


Pictured Above: Phil Friedrich and Sumanasena on a trip with Flynn

Becky Lyons (ISLE ’09)

Becky is attending Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health for her Masters in Public Health, focusing on Environmental Health.  

A Message from Matthew Martin (ISLE ’05)

Hi there, ISLE friends.  I'm writing to ask for advice: have any of you ever helped friends from Sri Lanka get a tourist visa to visit the US?  I've been trying to help a friend who has run into issues proving to the State Department that he plans to return home after his trip, so I'd be very grateful for advice anyone has.  Perhaps you can e-mail the ISLE team (isle@bowdoin.edu), and they can pass along your message.  Thanks! 

 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and keep in touch!

All the best,



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