ISLE Program

2006 Arrival and Orientation

Everyone arrived safely in Chicago from their respective points of departure, some barely managing to dodge serious delays due to thunderstorms and other weather events. Sree Padma flew in from Boston, accompanied by several students from the New England area, and held a brief meeting – mostly for introductions - before everyone boarded for the first leg of travel to London.

Students in airport

Eagerly awaiting departure at O'Hare: (L-R) Carolina VanHorn (Whitman),
Kristen Huber (Bowdoin), and Patrick Lavender (Bates).

Students in airport

(L-R) Jayme Siegel (Grinnell), Katie Hyman (Bowdoin), Mike Glantz (Bowdoin),
Dan Brady (Bowdoin), program assistant Phil Friedrich (Bowdoin '06),
Kira Stewart (Bates), and Chris Neubert (Grinnell).

Students in airport

Holy Cross students on their way to SL! (L-R) Megan Miller, Katie Dearing, Reid Feller.


Getting to know each other: (from L-R) Andrew Kollmeyer (Colby),
Amberlee Gustafson (Bowdoin), Malaika Clarke (Holy Cross), and Colleen Smith (Whitman)

Students arrived at the Colombo airport, a bit delayed and exhausted, but excited about the experience ahead. On the road to Kandy, in addition to stopping for tea and snacks at the Ambepussa Rest House, the group stopped to drink thambili, try rambutans and take pictures of roadside porcupines. Lunch was served after checking in at the Kandyan Villas; the students loved the view from the balcony and many even tried eating with their hands for the first time!

Students arrive in Colombo

Early morning arrival in Colombo... (L-R) Megan Miller (Holy Cross) Alex McKinley (Grinnell),
Mike Glantz (Bowdoin) and Katie Hyman (Bowdoin) are excited to finally touch down in Sri Lanka.

Colleen Andrew
Above, clockwise: Students Colleen Smith (Whitman), Andrew Kollmeyer (Colby) and Reid Feller (Holy Cross)
get the hang of eating with their hands, and have their first tastes of Sri Lankan curries.
Reid is already working on his Amma (host mother) to share the secrets of her recipes.

The group then walked to the ISLE Center after lunch for a tour of the facilities and a neighborhood walk. The students and the assistants went back around 6:00 p.m. to the Kandyan Villas for dinner and much needed sleep.

Students learn Kandy streets

Students learning the ins and outs of the streets in Kandy.

Herath and Punchi

Mr. B Herath and Prof. Meegaskumbura (right), the Sinhala teachers, show new students,
including Katie Hyman and Dan Brady (both looking at camera), around downtown Kandy.

The next day Sinhala class started at 8:00 a.m. After lunch at Kandyan Villas, the students met Drs. Ram Alagan and Seela Aladuwaka at the ISLE Center for more cultural orientation. The group went on a walk to the university temples, visiting the Hindu shrine, the mosque, the Christian church and the Buddhist monastery. At the church, students met the caretaker who is a young lecturer in the department of Sociology. He also operates a charity organization that helps poor Tamils from the neighboring former tea estate regions who have been displaced by development. He offered an opportunity for ISLE students to volunteer with this organization.

Upon arrival at the Buddhist temple, Ram talked with the monks and arranged a spontaneous lecture by a British monk in residence there. The students were fascinated by his personal story and enjoyed a question-and-answer session along with tea and snacks. It was a very stimulating experience for everyone.

first day of school

First day of school!

Sinhala class

Professor Meegaskumbura offers a detailed history of the Sinhala language
on the first day of Sinhala class at the ISLE Center.

Univ. tour

The group with Dr. Ram Alagan at the University of Peradeniya's Hindu Temple. The visit in the temple capped a whirlwind afternoon tour of the university's religious complexes.

On Sunday, after Sinhala class, the students checked out of the hotel and came to the ISLE Center to meet their host families. They were all eagerly looking forward to this, and the meetings went well. Some students had experienced an unfortunate bout of illness after eating dinner at the Kandyan Villas the night before (fish had sat on the buffet, waiting for the late arrival of the group, perhaps too long) and these students' host parents were informed. (Students were concerned with offending their families at dinner that evening, due to lack of appetite.) Many of the ammas immediately administered home remedies that made their host sons/daughters feel much better, exhibiting the kind of nurturing and hospitality typical of Sri Lankan family life.


Kristen makes fast friends during a visit to the Singithi Sevena Orphanage.


Katie D. waits for her turn as the "goose" in a rousing game of Duck, Duck, GOOSE!
at the Singithi Sevena orhpanage.

Reid and friends

Reid and friends during the visit to Singithi Sevena. Many students
plan on returning to the orphanage on Sunday afternoons to volunteer their time.

Favorite Things So Far?

- "Eating with my fingers;"
- "All of the happy, smiling children;"
- "The simplicity and slower pace of life here;"
- "My host family, the professors and the ISLE Center staff - everyone is so friendly and supportive and really knowledgable about everything... and happy to share their part of Sri Lanka with you!"
-- Several 2006 Students
Reid and friends

"Aliya (elephant) rides for all!" Dan offers the Sri Lankan variant
of a piggy back ride to a brave student at the orphanage.

The students began attending Material Culture classes on August 9th, preparing for the eight-day Northern Tour excursion. Session I is devoted equally to Sinhala and to Material Culture, and the ambitious Northern Tour really sets the tone for their academic experience in the ISLE Program.

- Go on to Session I Activities