ISLE Program

2007 Session I Activities

Once the students had settled in with their host families, they continued with their Sinhala classes from 8 until 11 every morning.  During that first week, they were introduced to the local community and the various activities available to them.

The students were given a tour of the University of Peradeniya and all the resources it offers. They had brought their lunches with them on this day and all enjoyed a leisurely meal under a big shady tree in front of the Arts building. Later, they continued with the tour of the campus facilities which included the post office, bank, canteen, gym, swimming pool, and the computer labs. 

Later in the afternoon, the students met with other university students and faculty at a reception and tea.  The Sinhala phrases that the students have learned came in handy in getting to know university students.

The next orientation took place at the ICES (International Center for Ethnic Studies). Since the ICES carries a large collection of books on gender and ethnic studies, the Center has proved to be a helpful resource for the ISLE students over the years.  The students also attend history classes at the ICES with Professor Kingsley de Silva who is also the director of the center, offering a course on colonial history of Sri Lanka.

On the following day, Dr. Alegan organized a tour to introduce the students to the club leaders and available events at the university. In the past years two popular clubs among the ISLE students have been the Green Team and Hantan Club. These clubs conduct hiking and camping tours.

An afternoon tour of downtown Kandy and the Dalada Maligawa was a great success. On this day the students were introduced to the city bus system, and then taken to the market where a range of things from fresh market produce, to shoes and cloths are on sale.  The students were delighted to see a large variety of fresh tropical fruits and discovered why Sri Lanka is a haven for fruit lovers.

On the way to the Kandy Lake and the temple the students were shown a number of businesses from the travel companies to internet cafes. During the lake walk they met with Professor Udaya Meddegama.  The professor gave the students a tour to the temple complex and to the Temple of the Tooth. At the Temple of the Tooth Relic the students attended the evening puja.

One evening the students were delighted to meet with small children at a local orphanage called Singithi Uyana.  The children at this orphanage had a wonderful evening sharing ice cream, dancing, and playing games with the ISLE students.  


Anna and three girls pause for a photo at Singithi Children's Home


Katie playing with one of the children at Singithi


Ruth enjoying ice cream with a couple boys at Singithi

By the beginning of week two, the students seemed to have settled comfortably into the ISLE Center phase of Session I, their daily routines, Sinhala class, meals, and activities. The Material Culture course instruction started during this week.

Towards the end of their second week, as part of their Material Culture course, students departed on an eight day field study program to the north central province of Sri Lanka.  Classes are held on ancient historical sites including Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.
This year, the Archaeology tour was conducted by Dr. Jayaratne and Mr. Daya Sisira.  On the first day they visited places that covered a long period from prehistoric burial sites starting from 30,000 BC to the early historic Buddhist stupa mounds of 300 BC with professors explaining history, politics, and technological development of these periods.


Kathryn, Pagie and Haven expolore the Vessagiri forest dwelling monastic complex

Before attending the evening puja ceremony the students were given lotus flowers to give as an offering at the temple at the Bodhi Tree.


Ruth, Jackie, Haven, Kathryn, Will Cole, Paige, Will Olson, and Fiona with their lotus offerings at the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree


Rays of sun break through the clouds to highlight the ISLE students taking pictures of a stupa at the top of a temple rock in Anuradhapura


Fiona and Kathryn take in the view at Mihintale temple


Students (bottom right corner) up close to the Aukana Vihara Buddha.


Anna, Will Cole, Sarah, Ruth, and Jackie half way up Sigiriya Rock, avoiding killer wasps


Fiona, Paige, and Will admire the Sigiriya Frescoes.


Jackie and Herath, the Sinhala teacher, help to pound millet for roti

Sinhala instructor Mr. Herath also went along on this trip to assist the students in keeping up with their Sinhala language. Students found individual sessions with him extremely helpful in keeping up with their language, and were delighted to learn the additional skill of millet grinding from him. They were welcomed into the home of a local villager that evening where they helped to prepare the meal.  The millet would later be used for roti and the coconut Katie was scraping was used for making pol sambol, which would be eaten with the roti.


Katie helps scrape coconut for roti.


Will Olson and Nik at the top of Pidurangala Mountain.

ISLE 2007 group picture at the Pidurangala summit

The professors encouraged the students to describe their experience of their travels in diaries which later provided the material for in depth discussions of the rich culture as well as helping them with their essay preparations.


Haven, Kathryn, Paige, Sarah, Jackie, and Anna (L -R) climb up to examine part of the Polonnaruwa Monastic Complex

After their return from the tour, Professor Seneviratne presented his famous lectures, and held one-on-one tutorials with some students on their paper preparation. The Material Culture papers are all on schedule and some students have knowingly chosen fascinating but demanding topics.

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Will Cole taking in the sculpted Buddhas of Gal Vihara

(More photos on Photo Gallery page.)