ISLE Program

2007 Getting There

Members of this year’s student group, residing in different parts of the country, flew into Chicago’s O’Hare airport to catch their international flight to London. Because of weather conditions in Minneapolis, three students were unable to connect to the flight to London but fortunately were able to catch up to the rest of the group to make the Sri Lankan Airline connection to Colombo. The rest of the group received a short orientation from Sree Padma with some tips about their impending journey and their first few days in Sri Lanka. The group asked several questions of both Flynn and Sree Padma as well and it was clear that excitement and anticipation were quite high.  By the time the students finally arrived in Colombo some 26 hours later, everyone in the group was pretty well acquainted with each other.  In the lobby of the Colombo’s Katunayake Airport, they were received with scented garlands by Dr. Lutchmansingh and Mr. Sumanasena, our program driver for the past 26 years.  Dr. Lutchmansingh later commented that the students were “looking well in spite of the long flight.”

Below is a gallery of photos illustrating the students’ arrival in Sri Lanka on August 24th:

Will Cole (Carleton) is welcomed by Sumanasena at the airport.

Will Olson (Grinnell College) is greeted at the airport by Dr. Larry Lutchmansingh (Faculty Director)

Katherine (Carleton College) is garlanded by Mr. Sumanasena.

Director Larry Luchmonsingh presents Sarah (Carleton College) with her garland.

The students were then driven from the airport in Colombo to Kandy , but not before they had stopped along the way for thambili (“king coconut”milk), tea, and ginger beer in Ambepussa, the half way point of the journey into the “hill country.”  From there, they journeyed on to their hotel in the hills of Kandy where they had their first experience of learning to eat with their fingers as they enjoyed their first Sri Lankan meal of rice and curries.

After a brief orientation session, they all were brought to the ISLE Center where they were introduced to the Center’s facilities: the library, the classroom, the study room and the garden.

Students stretch out in the garden of the ISLE Program Center in Kandy.

On the second day the students had another orientation seminar on the Sinhala language and culture with Mr. Herath, our Sinhala instructor. 

first day

First day of school after the initial Sinhala class.

Later in the afternoon, ISLE’s Cultural Liaison, University of Peradeniya faculty member Dr. Ram Alagan, took the group on a beautiful hike of the nearby Hantana hills and then proceeded to the University of Peradeniya campus to visit the university’s Buddhist temple, mosque, and church. After they were taken back to the hotel, the exhausted students ate their meal quickly and hit their beds right away.

Dr. Ram Alagan gives the students a tour of a Hindu Temple near the university campus, as Paige (Grinnell), Nik (Carleton), and Fiona (Whitman) look on.

On the third day, after Sinhala class, students received orientation and guidelines on how to best communicate with their host families.  Students returned to the hotel for the last time, ate their lunch, packed their bags and returned to the ISLE Center to meet their host families during a reception. Nervous, but enthusiastic, the students were relieved to finally meet their friendly homestay families with whom they will be living for the next three months.  Because of the traffic caused by the Asala Perahera, a national pageant held each year in Kandy, host parents left with their students by 4PM.

Paige (Grinnell) and Fiona (Whitman) meet members of their host families.

Anna (Carleton) and her host family meeting for the first time.

More details of student activities during the first few weeks of the program will be on the server by the end of the month.