Having returned from their archaeological tour to Kandy, the students have been continuing their Sinhala studies, taking two elective courses with faculty from the University of Peradeniya, and laying the groundwork for their upcoming independent study projects through research and consultation with faculty advisors. They also took elective drumming, dance and batik classes and prepared a dance performance. In addition, they went on several exciting field trips relating to their studies. All the while, they have been living with their Sri Lankan host families, learning first-hand about Sri Lankan food, customs and traditions in a welcoming family atmosphere. Below are photos and commentary from some of the highlights from Session II of the Fall 2009 ISLE Program.
This semester's elective courses were Colonial History, Theravada Buddhism, Art Drama & Poetry, and Images of the Feminine. With field trips and other events for most of their classes, in addition to a Southern Tour of the island, the students had ample opportunities to explore many varied aspects of the life, culture, history and environment of Sri Lanka.
For their first field trip of Session Two, the group visited a local farmers' market as part of their Sinhala class. The students were given a list of produce needed at the ISLE center and asked to use their Sinhala to talk down the price. There was a prize (a Rs. 400 phone card) for the student who found the best deal.
Bryanna, Sarah, and Jen negotiate a deal.
Kate scopes out the green beans.
Semifinalists Jen and Alex, try to win over our judge, Tilak. The two ended up sharing the prize.
On October 17th the students headed out to Colombo with Ashley Halpe, our Art Drama & Poetry professor, and his wife, Bridget. We spent the weekend visiting museums, attending the play, Sinhabahu, and staying at the beautiful Galle Face Hotel.
Alex and Professor Halpe at the Sapumal Foundation, a gallery of contemporary Sri Lankan art.
Kate takes in a painting.
Sarah at the Sapumal Foundation
Jen, Professor Roger Vetter, Professor Halpe's wife Bridget Halpe, and Alex, checking out Richard Gabriel's murals at St. Theresa's church.
Jen, Bryanna, and a throne at the National Museum.
Professor Roger Vetter enjoying the musical instrument collection (and the fan!) at the National Museum.
Sarah beneath a whale skeleton at the National Museum.
On October 23rd the group departed on the whirlwind Southern Tour. They visited in the holy pilgrimage site of Kataragama, a popular pilgrimage destination frequented by adherents of all religions in Sri Lanka. They also visited the beach at Unawatuna, the colonial town of Galle, and the mask-making town of Ambalangoda, and a Turtle Hatchery.
Kate and Sarah, with a hill plantation in the background, at a tea break in Nuwara Eliya.
Prof. Meegaskumbura, Val Vetter, Jen, Sarah, Kate, Alex, Bryanna, Dan, and Katie pose in front of the mountains as the group breaks for lunch somewhere betweeen Nuwara Eliya and Kataragama.
A temple at Kataragama.
Kate and Sarah having protective threads tied around their wrists at Kataragama.
Bryanna, Sarah, Kate, and Dan at a temple on the coast.
Sarah, Roger Vetter, and Bryanna exploring coastline.
Bryanna watches the waves.
Bryanna and Sarah (with Prof. Meegaskumbura in the background) pose next to a model of a fisherwoman at the National Maritime Museum in Galle.
Alex examines a sailboat at the Maritime Museum.
Kate and a seaturtle.
Alex having some fun at the mask museum in Ambalangoda.
The group's driver, Sumanasena, models a mask with Bryanna and Jen in Ambalangoda.
Alex holds a one-day-old turtle at a turtle hatchery on the coast.
The annual Halloween party at the ISLE Center was a great success. The students' costumes were so well done that the judges of the costume contest (ISLE staff members, Rosemary and Violet) refused to pick a winner. The students carved pumpkins, bobbed for apples, and enjoyed pizza, ice cream, and homemade apple pie and fruit salad provided by Bryanna and Jen, respectively.
The students in their costumes.
Mahinda Rajapaksa (Dan) and a hindu holy man (Alex) with Rosemary, the ISLE manager.
Sinhabahu (Jen), a Sri Lankan nurse (Bryanna), and the goddess Kali (Kate).
Sarah, as a trunk-less Ganesh (it was getting a little hot), poses with Sinhabahu, President Rajapaksa, and the students freshly-carved jack-o-lanterns.
Sarah, Dan, and Kate struggle (and fail) to stay in character.
Buddhism Field Trip
On the poya (full moon) day, Professor Somaratne led the students to a temple in Lewella to observe a ceremony in which the laity of the area present the monks with new robes.
Alex in front of a small stupa.
Dan and Jen with Professor Somaratne.
Volunteers at the temple show the group a set of newly-sewn robes.
The robes, packed along with begging bowls, before the ceremony.
Lay people, in a line, carry the robes and bowls into the temple to present them to the monks.
After seven weeks of practice, the students invited their host families and professors to the ISLE Center for a Kandyan dance performance.
New YouTube Video!- Sarah, Bryanna, Val, Katie and Jen perform the Girls' Dance
Sarah, Bryanna, Val, Katie, and Jen in the first dance.
Drumming instructor, Sirisoma, with ISLE resident director, Professor Roger Vetter.
Drumming video by Program Director Roger Vetter, Jen, Alex and Dan (New!).
Dan performs his solo dance. New!- See a video of Dan's solo dance performance on YouTube!
Jen performs the Cobra Dance.
Jen, Val, and Sarah waving their trunks in the Elephant Dance
Jen, Val, and Sarah finishing up their dance.
Katie, Kate, Jen, Bryanna, and Sarah shovel rice into baskets in the final dance.
Just after exams ended the students spent a lovely evening in the Bridget and Prof. Halpes' art-filled home. Professor Halpe and other Sri Lankan writers shared their poems and short stories with the group.
Bridget Halpe and Alex.
Kate and Pete with writers Vihanga Perera, Carl Muller, and Professor Ashley Halpe.
Professor Halpe and writer and professor, Nimal Sanderatne, listen as Carl Muller reads to the group.
Jen and Sarah chat with Professor Sanderatne.
Pete chats with two visiting University of Peradeniya professors.
Alex and Sarah on the porch with Carl Muller.
We hope you have enjoyed these reports and photos from the Session II activities of the Fall 2009 ISLE semester. Now that Session II has concluded, the students are ready to conduct research for their independent study projects in their respective research locations. They will return to Kandy by early December, where they will wrap up their research papers and present their findings to their professors and the rest of the group, take their final Sinhala exams, and say goodbye to their host families and ISLE staff an the traditional ISLE final tea. Once we get photos from those activites, we will post them to the Session III web page of this site.