The spring session of the 2008 ISLE Program had its first official rendezvous in Washingon, D.C.'s Dulles Airport. Following introductions and an informal Q&A with Program Assistant Phil, the group undertook the first leg of their journey to Sri Lanka: a seven hour flight to London. A lengthy layover in London's Heathrow Airport gave the students an opportunity to both brush up on the Sinhala alphabet and finish the pre-program Mahavamsa and "When Memory Dies" readings. The eleven hour flight to Sri Lanka was relatively empty, meaning that students had plenty of space to stretch-out and catch up on some must needed rest. The group's arrival in Sri Lanka was met with the auspicious sign of no lost luggage—an unprecedented occasion!
Director John Holt, Sree Padma Holt, and 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, stopping for tea and fruit at the Ambepussa resthouse.
Following are photos of the program getting underway, and the arrival of the students in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Herath (Sinhala instructor), Padma Holt, and Director John Holt discuss the upcoming semester's
Padma and the De Silvas (homestay coordinators) go over tips and tricks for facilitating a rewarding
homestay experience with a few of the ISLE ammas (mothers).
Mr. De Silva, office manager Rosemary Chunchie, and Mrs. De Silva enjoy a light moment at the ISLE Center.
Mr. Herath in conversation with an ISLE amma (mother).
Padma, John, and Mr. Herath lead a discussion with this year's host-families.
Prof. Holt and Mr. Herath in discussion.
Prof. Meegaskumbara, Padma, and John Holt discuss the Sinhala language program. Prof. Meegaskumbara
will be an invaluable resource as students begin to think about their independent studies.
Prof. Premasiri goes over the details of his Buddhist Ethics course with John.
Sinhala instructor Mr. Herath and office assistant/librarian Mr. Tilak Jayatilaka pause
for a photo in the ISLE library.
The ISLE staff meets for a discussion of the program's behind-the-scenes activities. (l-r: John Holt,
librarian Tilak Jayatilaka, driver/facilitator ("of all things," according to many) I.G. Sumanasena,
cook Violet Perera, office manager Rosemary Chunchie, and domestic help Maya Perera)
Marjorie, Yoni, and Aliya frustrated (maybe not Yoni??) about the prospect of an 11-hour flight
to Sri Lanka.
Chris is garlanded by Sree Padma as the group sets foot on Sri Lankan soil.
Sumanasena offers traditional greetings of "Ayubowan" to Adam at the Katunayaka airport
in Sri Lanka.
Asteria receives a welcome garland at the Katunayaka airport in Sri Lanka.
Students enjoy their first cup of Sri Lankan tea at the Ambepussa Resthouse enroute to Kandy.
Sam digs into a slice of fresh papol (papaya).
The group enjoys their first foray into aTing kanawa (hand eating) at a small guesthouse
near the ISLE Center upon arrival in Kandy.
Well-rested and excited to be experiencing Sri Lanka first-hand, the group enthusiastically threw itself into Sinhala classes and a variety of orientation activities: hand eating tutorials, walks around the University of Peradeniya, home-stay presentations, a university tea attended by over 50 Peradeniya professors and students, and a tea party to welcome this year's home-stay families. The orientation period culminated with a two-hour seminar on the book "When Memory Dies," led by the executive director of the US-SL Fulbright Commission Tissa Jayatilake. The seminar, which touched on issues ranging from Sri Lanka's colonial past to the present ethnic conflict, was well-received by all and provided a solid base for students as they begin to navigate Sri Lankan society.
Asteria, Marjorie, Adam, Yoni, Sam, and Chris (l-r) listen as Director Holt discusses the aims of the ISLE Program
on the center's lawn.
Program Assistant Phil, Aliya, John Holt, Asteria, Adam, and Yoni (l-r) talk about cultural transitions
students will face as ISLE students live and study in Sri Lanka.
Rosemary warmly welcomes this semester's students to the ISLE Center in Dangolla.
John leads the group around the Murugan kovil (temple) while on a tour of the University of Peradeniya's
Yoni, Chris, Asteria, and P.A. Phil listen as John gives a short introduction to Sri Lanka's Muslim
community in front of the university Mosque.
Asteria and Marjorie chat with new friends at the University welcome team.
Yoni and his host amma (mother) Mrs. Wijeratne at the ISLE host-family tea.
Adam chats with his host aiyya (older brother) and Sam's amma.
ISLE students just before their first Sinhala class... good luck!
See the Photo Gallery page for more photos throughout the program.