ISLE Program

2006 Session III Activities


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.

Kandy temple
Students visit a temple in Kandy on Poya Day.


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.

Prof. Meegaskumbura explaining the area geography to Patrick and Katie S. with Sumanesena looking on.

group at tower
(L-R) Chris, Kira, Mike, Kristen, Amberlee, Liz, Dan, Phil,
Carolina, and Malaika atop the mountain in Gompolla.

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.

Trinity Chapel
Kira, Katie D., Jayme, and Mike take in the vastness
of Trinity Chapel on a Poetry, Drama and Art field trip.

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."
Art/Poetry class
The Art, Drama, Poetry class, with Flynn, Prof. Halpe and Director Ryor at Lankatillika Temple.

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.

M. Bandara
Environmental Studies professor Madduma Bandara lectures on the environmental
effects of small-scale vegetable cultivation in the Nuwara Eliya highlands.

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.

a new home
Colleen, Kira, and Director Ryor check out the construction
of new homes being built for families that will be displaced
by a development project in the area.

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."


to newara eliya
Carolina, Liz, Reid, Andrew, Colleen, Kristen and Amberlee enroute to Nuwara Eliya.

Leech prevention
Perhaps not entirely fashionable, leech prevention entails tucking one's pantleg into one's sock.

Sumanesena, Malaika, and Flynn overlooking Devon Waterfall on the ES field trip.

St. Clare's
Alex, Katie S., Mike and Megan enjoy the view at St. Clare's Falls on the ES field trip.

group shot
A group shot at the resettlement community site.

Horton Plains
ISLE students take in the view (and the chilly weather) at Horton Plains
(the windswept plateau rising 6,500 feet near Nuwara Eliya), while "World's End"
looms in the background. Students hiked the various trails that wind through
Horton Plains as part of a dual Development and Environmental Studies field trip.

Andrew and the Worlds End
Andrew approaches the precipice marking the "World's End."

ES Group
The Environmental Studies class at Horton Plains.

Kira and friend
Kira makes friends with a Sambur by sneaking it a banana at Horton Plains.

Amberlee, Chris, Carolina, and Malaika listen to a lecture
about terrace agriculture practices on the Environmental Studies field trip.

Pedro Tea Estate
Students tour the drying room at the Pedro Tea Estate
as a part of the Development/Environmental Studies field trip to Nuwara Eliya.

Pedro Estates
Liz, Megan, Chris, Dan, Kira, and Kristen after taking a tour of the tea factory at Pedro Estates.


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.

Reid as dancer
Dance master Peter Surasena puts the final touches
on Reid's dance outfit at the Kandyan drumming and dancing performance.

Jaymie Kristen and Kira
Left: Jaymie gets help with her headress.
Right: Kristen helps Kira with her makeup before the dance concert.

The drummers take the stage (L-R) Jaymie, Phil, Alex, Mike, and Katie D.

Chris and Mike
Chris and Mike with their dancing pants on ... or skirts, as it were.

boys dance
The ISLE boys tear up the dance floor, under the watchful eye of Mr. Suresena.

group dance
Group shot on stage.

curtain call
Curtain call!

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.

Phil Mike
Left: Phil and his buddies at the orphanage. Right: Mike and his new friends.

Katie D.
Katie D playing a game with boys from the orphanage, while girls braid her hair.

Patrick and Dan on stage during the opening night performance of
Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

Alex Katie and Malaika
Left: Alex at work on his jack o'lantern.
Right: Katie S. and Malaika pause work on their pumpkin carving for a smile.

"Professor De Silva" (Dan) and "Mahoot, an elephant caretaker" (Sumanasena)
enjoy the Halloween festivities at the ISLE center.

Team ISLE dressed as the Chinese general Zheng He and the captured king and queen of Kotte.

Katie D. as Spiderman.

The group and their Halloween creations.

group Halloween
ISLE 2006 Halloween!

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.

Megan and parents
Megan and her parents.

(More photos on Photo Gallery page.)