Miss Diana Wong Yuen Sam from Hong Kong volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation from June to July 2017.
I am very pleased as a volunteer at Horizon Lanka. This is my first time to plan the itinerary and to go with a friend, Eagle. After this meaningful trip, my expression for Sri Lankan is that they are very gentle and friendly! During the whole trip, the thing I do a lot is smiling. Every time when I walked through the village, people smiled with me and I smiled with them too. In contrast, it is not easy to find this manner in Hong Kong. Our relationship contains “respects.” In addition, I am thankful that Horizon Lanka gave me more opportunities to show my care to my friends in Sri Lanka. Horizon Lanka does not only let students meet foreign volunteers, but we can broaden our horizons through Sri Lankan cultures, traditions, and even students’ learning attitudes, which are very admirable.
Horizon Lanka acts as a platform to empower the students. In fact, every student has their potential to show their talents, especially they like dancing and sports. I like Horizon Lanka as an academy but it is like a social youth center that provides manpower, platforms, and equipment for students to perform their talents. One of the impressive experiences is that the small kids danced together at the night farewell party. I did not believe that little babies could perform well with limited practices. This was also a precious experience for little kids and parents to participate in the performance. Another unforgettable experience is that senior students teach parents to use their laptops. I appreciate that students can share their skills with other people. This can also harmonize the relationship between the villagers. However, I observed that the lack of laptops, computers, or technological advances (Wi-Fi) is found that people in the village disconnect from the world. If donors can provide some extra resources (computers, stationery, sports equipment, instruments, dictionaries, etc.) to Horizon Lanka, I think this academy must become another space for people to stay in. Villagers (not only the students) can watch English movies; play football, basketball, volleyball, badminton outside Horizon Lanka; or even organize a handicraft workshop by both talented students and women. Therefore, I really want more friends can utilize this platform to build up their abilities and confidence.
In daily time, I worked at a public school. I was delighted to teach students from Grade 1 to Grade 11. Although it was tough for me to teach students every lesson without rests, it was a very great experience that I could communicate with students of different ages. I found students have the similarity—their learning passion is appreciable! Even their English level is limited. They can still put more effort into learning English. My strategy for teaching them was to read aloud the articles/words more times and to check the dictionaries together so that students can really understand the meaning of the words. Next time, I hope I can give an English notebook for students and invite them to write dairy/ words/ anything in their notebooks so that they can try to use more English. To a certain extent, I think the English level of the textbook is too high for students. In Hong Kong, the English level is lower than the teacher can teach English by a chapter. Indeed, the lack of equipment is the main reason that leads to slow learning progress. I really hope that more dictionaries and teaching materials can be given to students. Schools can also make some posters that let students learn English. Overall, I like the teaching environment so much. I feel thankful that the principal and teachers gave me an opportunity to meet with the lovely students. Moreover, I feel regretful that some students did not have clean and comfortable uniforms, especially their shoes. They wore broken shoes. I hope more people can donate money to help those students.
It is glad for me to meet a friendly family and cheerful friends. I like them so much. My host family always brought us to different places: Thursday market, friends’ party, “safari”, reservoir, temples, farms and the treehouse, etc. In those weeks, my host family and friends invite me to explore the daily life of Sri Lankan. I am interested in understanding the religion (Buddhism is also major religion in Hong Kong) and find out the difference between Chinese Buddhism and Sri Lankan Buddhism. Meanwhile, one of my habits is changed that I go to the toilet without tissues when I am at home! As a student studying education for sustainability, I really admire Sri Lankan practices. If there are more chances, I will invite more Sri Lankans to share environmental experiences and make handcraft using unvalued materials (My host mother is keen on tailoring!)
To be frank, Eagle and I planned to stay at Mahawilachchiya in 3 weeks. Finally, we really missed that place. Our final decision was to stay for more days with my family and friends! I love this place so much! Confronting drought in June and July, Mahawilachchiya can practice organic farming to make a better harvest. Next time, I expect more good experiences can be brought from my town. It is because Mahawilachchiya is another home in my mind. All of my friends are my family and siblings. I will be back! Thank all the people I met in Sri Lanka! 😀