Mrs. Fiona Cuthbertson of United Kingdom taught 2 months in Horizon Lanka Academy, Mahawilachchiya from April to May, 2006. She was the second volunteer to come to Horizon Lanka under Global Vision International‘s volunteer scheme to Horizon Lanka.
“What is admirable of Fiona’s character is the quality of protesting what she feels unnecessary or inapplicable. What is more admirable is the kind of ease she did it. This good quality is overlooked by many an educated person and it results in wastage of labour by doing irrelevant things. But Fiona was a thorough exception to this. Apart from it she had a remarkable down to earth nature and deep sense of humour and was very sensitive to other’s feelings. During her stay at Horizon Lanka she was committed to whatever she did and used her energy at her best to teach the kids of Horizon Lanka.” – Ranjith Pushpakumara, Former Head Master, Horizon Lanka Academy
I am now coming to the end of my Sri Lanka project; the last eight weeks have flown by. It will be really sad to leave on Friday, but they say if you have those feelings then you had a great time. That I certainly have!
Prior to this I had had no experience in teaching English, and the first couple of weeks I did wonder if I could actually cut it. Believe me it does get easier as the kids get to know you and you overcome your nerves. The children are very shy, but they really do come out of their shell once they get to know you. They are a joy to teach and so enthusiastic.
The advantage of being at Horizon Lanka is the tools you have to work with to make their lessons interesting and fun. To name a few, I have used computers, DVD’s and the even used various programs on Satellite TV. This afternoon I will be showing the Grade 6 & 7 a Tin Tin DVD and stopping it at regular intervals and asking them questions. It’s the kind of thing that they love. I usually end the lesson with playing games. Hangi Mutto, (hide and seek to you and me) is their favourite. I’m sure one of the motivations in coming to class is to play Hangi Mutto!
The program provided me with the opportunity to stay with a local family. It has been an amazing experience. I will miss them all when I go. The accommodation is basic but comfortable and they go out of their way to make you feel at home as they realize that you are so far away from your own family. Being with a family you get to celebrate all their holidays, Sri Lanka has many. Whilst here I have been part of their New Year celebration, a word of warning is, be prepared to eat a lot of cake! This last weekend was Wesak Poya; this two day holiday commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. They celebrate by making Paper Lanterns which they hang outside of their houses. It was very beautiful and going to the temple with my family was a highlight.
My memories of this project will of course be the kids, but also the people in the villages who were so welcoming and friendly. The time here did take me out of my comfort zone, but it provided me with an amazing experience being immersed in Sri Lankan culture and the wonderful people in the community. I would recommend anyone to take the challenge, to volunteer in Sri Lanka to have a rewarding and memorable experience. I know I have!