In addition to regular courses and field trips this session, students participated in Batik classes as well as dancing and drumming. Two students participated in a theatrical production, some learned Sri Lankan cooking techniques, and others volunteered at a local orphanage. The Halloween party, and a visit by one student's parents (bringing gifts of good, old American Halloween treats!) ended the session on a very festive note.
Sinhala language Professor Meegaskumbara and Mr. Herath continued to conduct small group and individual sessions, along with their regular classes. All of the students signed up for numerous sessions with them, and both instructors remain pleased at the overall progress of the students. At the end of the session, they conducted a field test using their language skills at the brass-making village near Lankatilika (not far from Kandy).
Prof. Meegaskumbura hosted the students on an outing to Ambulluwawa, a scenic mountain overlook park outside of Gampola. The whole group participated (including Mr. Herath), leaving early one Sunday morning in early November. The group climbed up to the top of the mountain after driving part way. Many of the students climbed the stupa structure to see the view from the top.
An Art, Drama and Poetry class field trip took students to Prof. Ashley Halpe's art-filled house in Kandy, to Trinity College chapel (also in Kandy), and to several local Buddhist temples to view the murals. Everyone enjoyed looking at Prof. Halpe's art collection and talking with a young artist whom he promotes.
Prof. Halpe's course touches on the full scope of Sri Lankan art, literature, poetry, and drama in four short weeks, and students have the opportunity to create their own works of writing and art as part of the experience.
- "It was all very engaging and constantly added to my day-to-day Sri Lankan experience."
- "Our field trip to the professor's house was particularly relevant and is one of the highlights of the class."
- "We visited temples, churches, and the professor’s house…it was nice to have a hands-on experience of art and to see sacred buildings in a new 'art' perspective."
Many students taking the Mahayana Buddhism course taught by Professor G. Dharmasiri found his style of lecturing an interesting change from other courses ("undoubtedly unconventional," said one student). There was a great deal of discussion related directly to the fundamental concepts of the various Mahayana sutras. This study of basic Buddhist theories of action and their impact on contemporary life certainly left a mark on those interested in the topic.
- "I really enjoyed my time in Professor Dharmasiri’s class. He was a very interesting and dynamic professor who was very passionate about the class work material"
- "This course was very enjoyable, and was an interesting compliment to the ISLE program's Theravada course."
- "His classes were purely discussion based, which I greatly enjoyed. He made the class what it was, and I loved it."
In the Women's Studies course (Socio-cultural, Economic and Political Experiences of Women in Sri Lanka), lectures by Professor Kamala Liyanage, Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan, and Ms Jezima Ismail presented complex issues in a lively manner, and were very well-received. The field trip to the Women’s Development Center in Kandy on the last day of class was very successful, and the director was keen to meet the ISLE students. The center emerged as a strong candidate for possible independent study topics.
- "This course was really helpful for coming to terms with the status of women in Sri Lanka. Most of the female students have noticed that sexual harassment is a problem here, and it was nice to have a course focusing on the issues that Sri Lankan women face."
- "I thought Jezima Ismail did an excellent job of addressing a lot of issues about Muslim women in a clear manner. "
- "I greatly enjoyed the field trip. In contrast to the stories we heard about women's oppression, it was really nice to hear what is being done on a grass-roots, tangible level in order to alleviate the situations of women in Sri Lanka."
Professor Madduma Bandara's Environmental Studies class provided a wealth of topics that students considered for their Independent Study projects. His course covered a lot of territory, and his excellent use of lecture notes and readings helped students stay on track. Professor Bandara has been universally appreciated by the students for not only the extra time he took to help them with course material and papers, but he has been enormously helpful to many of their Independent Study projects.
The joint Environmental Studies/Development field trip to the hill country around Nuwara Eliya went very smoothly. Only three students were not enrolled in either course, and it was decided to allow them to attend the field trip with the others so the whole group could benefit.
- "The portion of the class that pertained to the nature-culture interface of Sri Lanka was enjoyable and important to my experience here."
- "Nuwara Eliya was great. It gave us the opportunity to integrate different perspectives (pro-environment and pro-development)."
- "Professor Bandara was very helpful outside of the classroom, and always willing to answer questions..."
Development and Change in Sri Lanka, taught by Professor G.H. Peiris, focused on the developing economy of Sri Lanka, and how it has been affected by the tsunami, the Sinhala-Tamil conflict and globalization.
Drs. Shantha and Nalini Hennayake gave several class lectures, and Dr. Shantha Hennayake gave excellent field talks on the Nuwara Eliya field trip (see Environmental Studies section above).
- "I think that this class provides an important dimension to the ISLE program due to the nature of Sri Lanka as a 'developing country' and the prevalence of environmental concerns that come with it "
- "Professor Peiris is amazing. Simply amazing."
- "Professor Peiris is terrific. I enjoyed being able to pick a topic that I wanted to learn about. It made the learning experience more enjoyable and gratifying."
Session III is the time when students must make plans for their Independent Study project, and complete their annotated bibliographies, research propsals and research presentations.
In early November, the students made their presentations, not only to the director and advisors, but to fellow students. It was a good opportunity for swapping ideas and feedback.
This year, due to security concerns, students will be staying close to Kandy, choosing I.S. locations that are safe and easily accessible.
Every year, ISLE students are offered the opportunity to learn Sri Lankan dance and drumming, and to take part in a performance at the university at the end of classes.
The record number of participants this year continued their commitment all the way to the end of Session III. Dance instructor Peter Surasena and drumming instructor Mr. Sirisoma were very pleased. The dance concert was well attended by host families and friends, as well as all of the student boarders from Pushpadana Girls College, who were invited as a way of thanking them for the group's visit there in September. Getting out for a live performance was a real treat for the girls, and they enjoyed themselves immensely.
In addition to their studies, several students (and both assistants) volunteered regularly at a local orphanage, the group hosted a Halloween party, and two students even participated in a production of "Twelfth Night," produced by Prof. Halpe. Dan and Patrick attended rehearsals from late August right up until the performances on Oct. 29th and 30th. The play was performed at the Children's Library auditorium in Kandy and sponsored by the British Council. They said that it was a great experience, and the entire group went to the opening night performance on Sunday.
Student Megan Miller's parents came for a one-week visit in early November, in conjunction with a business trip to Dubai by Mr. Miller. They took the entire group out to dinner one night at the Captain's Table in Kandy. They also judged the costume and pumpkin carving contests at the Halloween party, and, naturally, attended the dance performance. Their presence added to the air of festivity present as Session III came to an end.
(More photos on Photo Gallery page.)