Samantha Granison (College of the Holy Cross) is a junior with a double major in History and Studio Art. She is a rower, and grew up in Ithaca, NY. Samantha enjoys traveling and has lived as an exchange student in the Dominican Republic. She looks forward to meeting everyone and is excited to travel to South Asia for the first time!
Kimberly Kolor (University of Pennsylvania) is a junior with a double major in Religious Studies and South Asia Studies and a minor in International Development. This fall, she traveled abroad to South India. While studying abroad in Madurai, she completed an independent research project on street temples titled, “Urine-repellent temples, stolen idols, and auto-driver pujaris: Negotiating a space for everyday Hinduism in Madurai.” At Penn, Kim has focused on Buddhist studies with some emphasis on Hindusism and South Asian Sufi Islam. She also studies Tamil and loves Tamil films and music. Beyond academics, she blogs for Penn Society for International Development. She also enjoys spending time with friends, wandering the streets of Philadelphia, painting mediocre portraits, dabbling with photography, and going on cross-country runs through the woods.
Jasmin Mahabamunuge (Bowdoin College) is a junior with a double major in Biology and Gender and Women Studies. She is involved at Bowdoin as a tour guide, a member of peer health and the Bowdoin women's association and a biology lab TA. Some of her hobbies include laughing, playing soccer and swimming in the ocean. She grew up hearing many stories about Sri Lanka, because her father was born and raised there. She looks forward to going to Sri Lanka for the first time, and she is excited to learn Sinhala!
Omar Sohail (Bowdoin College) is a junior from Bowdoin College majoring in Religion and Chemistry. He is from Fort Wayne, IN, but has tried to leave the Midwest ever since moving there in 6th grade. He likes to swim, try a variety of different cuisines, drink smoothies, and most of all nap. Omar is interested in studying how Muslims interact with both Buddhist and Hindu majorities in Sri Lanka and cannot wait to get to Kandy to experience a new pace of life, warm weather, and mangoes.
Resident Program Director, Philip Friedrich is not only an ISLE alumnus, but he is also a former ISLE Program Assistant and IIE Fulbright recipient. Philip's reserach and teaching expertise focuses on historical interactions between Buddhism and South Asia's other major religious traditions. At present, he is working on a dissertation that investigates the circulation of political elites, cultural materials, and ideas between late-medieval Sri Lanka and South India.
ISLE Executive Director, Dr. Sree Padma Holt, works with ISLE faculty and administrators to plan for courses and set up the program calendar for the semester. Dr. Holt also facilitates the orientation and preparation for each group of students, making sure that students follow the steps necesssary to address tasks such as acquiring immunizations and passports. She is always available for questions from parents and students. As Executive Director, she also acquires the necessary resident visas for students through the Sri Lankan embassy before the group's departure,and holds numerous meetings with ISLE students and staff as they prepare for the coming semester.