Honza Jan Kučera volunteered at Horizon Lanka during the months of March and April, 2015.
I remember first thing which came to my mind when Kristyna asked me if I want to go to Sri Lanka as a volunteer and I said yes, I pictured houses in the middle of the jungle or some kind of savannah which I’ve seen in some TV program about Africa. It was funny cause I knew it may be different but I wanted to picture it in some kind of romantic way. I was wondering, how is life over there and how are the people and now I can say that even though I had some ideas the things which I have seen and experienced in real life for that 2 months in Mahawilachchiya were life-changing for me. First encounter with the kids and people living in the village were already filled with smiles and that was one of the things which left major impact on me.
Teaching in Horizon Lanka combined with teaching in Saliymala Public School was perfect. As Pedagogy graduate I had the chance to experience teaching in a public school for the first time for a longer period than just university training and expand the English classes with the same students, who were going for the extra classes to the Horizon Lanka was really good. It was a great balance with a classic school teaching and modern “game and fun” approach to the English from both of us with Kristyna. Loads of trips to the different places around the village and our favorite “going to swim” trips with kids, dancing around the HL building and never-ending laugh that was Horizon Lanka for me. I had the chance to compare Czech and Sri Lankan children approach and behavior in school which was astonishing. Their respect for the teachers and for learning itself is really amazing. Another great thing which I think I was blessed with there was the help from my amazing colleagues at school and people from the village in general and of course the founder of Horizon Lanka Nanda Wanninayaka who helped us, guided us and also listened to us throughout the whole stay.
Huge impact on our stay and on our lives was the fact that we were staying in the family of a Horizon Lanka student. I personally think that this is the greatest asset of becoming volunteer in Horizon Lanka and I don’t mean just for me but for everybody involved. I can’t even list every story or thing which happened during those two months because there was so many of them and I am gratefully happy that I could’ve become a part of Sri Lankan family and that they showed me completely different life which I would not be able to experience otherwise. Their love and laugh are the things which I will never forget and I hope they will never forget me because I feel that we found some special bond. As I was saying this was not benefit just for me but also for the whole family and especially the kids. Their English got so much better because they just had to speak with me and Kristyna which is the best way how to learn it quick and good.
Life in Mahawilachchiya showed me how important is to smile to people you are meeting every day or just once a month, it showed me what things are really worth living for and what things are not. I made amazing number of new friends which I will never forget and will visit in the future for sure as I will also come back to Horizon Lanka. Sri Lanka in general was just something which left us speechless and amazed several times during our traveling, which we planned for our last two weeks there. We encounter situations and people which we never would have hoped for. Once again it showed us what is the most amazing in Sri Lanka and that’s its people. People who will always help you and will do the extra step to make you feel like you belong there especially when you show them that you can speak Sinhala and your answer to the question: “where are you from?” is no more Czech Republic but Mahawilachchiya and that’s exactly how we felt – like we belong there.
The most important thing which this amazing experience in Horizon Lanka and Sri Lanka gave and taught me is that I know this is exactly what I want to do in my future life. It showed me that I love teaching, I love English and I love working with bright, happy and hardworking kids. This combined is what I think I can do all my life in different forms and countries. This is what I am most grateful to Horizon Lanka, Kristyna, Radhika, Nanda, my Sri Lankan family and everybody who I met throughout these two amazing and life-changing months.
“I’ll be back!” – Honza.