The fall session of the 2008 ISLE Program had its first official rendezvous in Chicago's O'Hare Airport on Wednesday evening, August 20th. Following introductions and an informal session with Administrative Director Sree Padma Holt, the group undertook the first leg of their journey to Sri Lanka: a nearly eight hour flight to London. After a two hour layover in London's Heathrow Airport, students continued their long journey to Sri Lanka. The flights, though long, went without incident, and the group arrived in at Katunayaka Airport early Friday morning local time.
At Katunayake airport, Director Nancy Wilkie and Transportation Facilitator Sumanasena received the group in the terminal with warm welcomes of "Ayubowan" and fresh flower garlands. After boarding the ISLE van, the group made the trip into the up-country hills of Kandy. On the drive from Colombo to Kandy, the group stopped and had Tambilii water, and later stopped for tea at the Ambepussa Resthouse to break up the journey.
In the days following their arrival, the students have been busy moving in with and getting to know their homestay families as well as beginning their daily Sinhala language classes. They are also continuing their cultural and historical studies; shortly after their arrival in Kandy, Professor Tissa Jayatillake, Executive Director of the US- Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, made a special trip up from Colombo to engage the students in a discussion of When Memory Dies. The novel, which the students read as part of their pre-program readings, provided an excellent context for a dialogue about the history and porfound complexity of the country's ongoing ethnic conflict.
The students have also been getting to know Kandy and its environs. Soon after arrival, met their new professors and peers for tea at the University, received a tour of Kandy town from Sinhala Professor Udaya Meddagama, and hiked up to the top of Hantana Tea Estate for a spectacular view of Kandy and the surrounding hill country.
As the semester progresses, please keep checking these pages for further updates of the ISLE Fall Semester 2008 program as the students progress through Sessions I, II and III. The content and images you will see on these pages are provided by ISLE Program Assistant Dan Brady.
Following are photos of the program getting underway, and the arrival of the students in Sri Lanka.
(from left to right) Chris, Padma, Maria, Sarah, Kristin, Jared, Michelle, and Sheila chat in Chicago O'Hare airport. Padma offered advice to the new ISLE students and talked about what to expect after arrival in Sri Lanka.
(clockwise from left) Chris, Padma, Maria, Sarah, Sheila, Michelle, Jared, and Kristin chat in Chicago O'Hare Airport before departing for London.
Jared, Chris, Sarah, Michelle and Kristen (left to right) wait for the others as they went through security at Heathrow airport. During the two hour layover, the students got the last bite of Western food they would have for a few months.
Chris and Jared (left to right) make an entry in their journals while waiting at London's Heathrow Airport.
Garlanded students Sheila, Jared, Michelle, Maria, Chris, Sumanasena, Sarah, Kristin (left to right) pose for a photo at the airport after being welcomed at Sri Lanka's Katunayaka airport by ISLE driver Sumanasena and ISLE Resident Faculty Director Professor Nancy Wilkie.
The students stopped to try some Tambilli (King Coconut) water shortly after their arrival in Sri Lanka. The students didn't all agree on how it tasted, but Sumanasena explained its status as a local staple and that it's great for avoiding dehydration.
Welcome to Kandy:
After the long journey and some much-neede rest, the group enthusiastically threw itself into Sinhala classes and a variety of orientation activities, including walks around the University of Peradeniya, a tea party with their home-stay families, and a university tea where they met with students and professors from the University.
Students and ISLE Director Prof. Nancy Wilkie hiked up to the top of the Hantana Tea estate. The climb was tougher than expected, but the skyward view of Kandy and the surrounding countryside was well worth it.
The ISLE students gathered with students and faculty Peredeniya University at a tea in the Arts Faculty. Here, the students chat with Professor DPM Weerakkudy, professor of Western Classics (right) and Prof. Carmen Wikramagamage, who will be teaching the "Images of the Feminine" course.
Prof. Weerakkudy, the university's only blind professor, discusses the university's new Center for Students with Special Needs, which he conceived and created.
Sheila chats with Arts Faculty Dean, Prof. Tudor de Silva at the University Tea.
Sarah chats with ISLE Images of the Feminine instructor, Prof. Carmen Wikramagamage at the University Tea.
ISLE students introduce themselves to Peredeniya students at the University Tea.
Sinhala Prof. Udaya Meddagama points out some details of the Katragama Temple in downtown Kandy. Prof. Meddagama led the students on a tour of downtown Kandy after their arrival.
Rumors had spread among ISLE alumni that ISLE center driver, Sumanasena, was said to be a Red Sox fan after a visit to Fenway Park on a recent visit to America. Dan Brady, this year's program assistant and avid Giant's fan, sought to correct this grave misunderstanding.
Students jump right into Sinhala class with Chair of Peredeniya's Sinhala Department, Prof. Udaya Meddagama. Session One begins!