151. Alain Horst – Switzerland

151.	Alain Horst – Switzerland

Alain Horst – Switzerland

Mr. Alain Horst from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in May, 2018.

TOUR REPORT 

“Dear Nanda

We thank you for the opportunity you gave us to teach English here in Sri Lanka. We learned a lot about the country and its people. We were astonished how greatly we had been welcomed in the village, especially in Segars house and how keen the children were to learn new things. Without knowing English and the western culture, Segars parents had been amazing hosts. Even though our stay had many positive aspects, we decided to leave earlier than planned, as the work was much more challenging and time consuming then described on workaway.info. We think that the Horizon Lanka Academy has a very good aim, but we also think that some points need to be improved for the next volunteers. Below we listed some points that may be improved.

Before Arrival

The communication before our arrival was very short, but as you referenced on your informative website, it was ok for us. The website has information about almost everything. As the website is only for the village Mahawilachchiya it was obvious for us that we will teach in Mahawilachchiya itself.

Our recommendation: As most of the volunteers do not teach in the village itself, it should be made clearly on the website that the academy is spread over whole Sri Lanka and many new branches are opening right now. The volunteers need to know, that the meeting point may not be in Mahawilachchiya.

Arrival

From Colombo we had a six hour bus drive to Anuradhapura, just to be informed that we could teach in Nanu Oya which was another six hour bus drive back to the south. We could have gone there directly from Colombo with comfortable two hours in the train.

Our recommendation: Plan and discuss already in advance where the volunteers should go and save a lot of time and energy of the volunteers. This time and energy should better be used for the work with the children.

New Guest Families

The culture of Sri Lanka and of the one from the western people is very different and we were happy to receive the code of ethics in advance. These rules are very good and very important. Unfortunately we had to learn that our guest family never received these rules. Also you told us that the family has no western toilet but you never mentioned that the family has no shower and the washing happens outside the house. Even though we had been very
surprised, it was no problem for us as we are used to this kind of washing trough our camping experiences.

Our recommendation: The code of ethics should be a high priority to new guest families and you should not just send it to them, but furthermore discuss it with them and make sure everything is well understood. We think it must also be clearly communicated how the situation with toilet and non existing bathroom is, as we are sure many volunteers will have some trouble with it.

Opening a New Branch

Organisation

When we arrived in Nanu Oya, the first day we had to visit the regional education director, the vice regional education director and as well the headmasters of the schools to explain them the organisation Horizon Lanka and what we are going to teach. We felt that neither the local administrator nor the school directors had been informed how Horizon Lanka works and what the volunteers are here for. We would have loved to know for ourselves what our
tasks here would be.

Our recommendation: If opening a new branch, make sure that all people involved know what the academy is about and what the volunteers are capable of and what not.

Working hours

On our arrival we had been asked to work five hours in the morning in four different public schools, four hours in the afternoon for the academy and the evening to improve the English of Segar. Also we had been asked to work on Saturday the whole day. The next day we discussed it again and lowered the working hours. But it was difficult for us to arrive and first have to say “no” to everything.

Our recommendation: Offer the volunteers the minimum amount of working hours and give them the possibility to teach more hours if they want. This gives them the chance to grow slowly in their work. Also we think it is much better if the volunteer work in the beginning just in one school to get to know the teachers, students and rules of the schools. More schools could be added, if the volunteer feels comfortable.

English Teaching Public School

From beginning it was expected of us to teach the classes without the help of a local English teacher. We explained clearly that this is not possible for us, as we didn’t know the level of the children nor how the school here works. Beside an English book (which did not fit to the level of the children), no teaching material was present. In the end, the English teacher did not show up the whole morning. Laura as an experienced teacher was able to teach the classes without school material for a whole morning. But it was extremely stressful for her. For volunteers without many years of teaching experience this would have been just impossible.

Our recommendation: As everyone can teach for Horizon Academy many inexperienced volunteers will come. We think teaching for them is just possible if they get the support of an experienced teacher, very small groups of children or at least good teaching material. If no English teacher and no material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lessons.

English Teaching Academy Afternoon

In the afternoon twenty very motivated children had been there. We decided to teach English as the school headmaster clearly expressed that he would prefer us to teach English than dancing lessons. As we did not have any teaching material, we also needed to prepare the lessons for the afternoon which was very time consuming.

Our recommendation: If no teaching material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lesson. It would be a good idea for the Horizon Lanka Academy to provide some material to the volunteers including for example ideas for games and songs.

IT Teaching

When we arrived in Nanu Oya we learned that no computers are available for the children and that I also should teach English. One school had computers but they were reserved for the teachers.

Our recommendation: If someone is sent to teach IT, make sure that some IT infrastructure is available.
If some of our mentioned recommendations could be put into practice, we are sure, that it could be an amazing experience for all involved parties. Thank you again for the great experience and all the best for the future!”

Explanation

Dear Laura and Alain,

Thanks for the valuable feedback. I understand that many things went disarray as Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya was not yet ready when I sent you two there. In fact, I had not decided to send volunteers there till I go there for a second time and ensure everything is in order. The rash decision to send you two there was based on the extremely hot weather prevailed in Anuradhapura during mornings. But, I should still have made better arrangements in Nanu Oya. I apologize and take responsibility for all these and thank you two a lot for doing a lot despite the unfavorable conditions you faced. – Nanda Wanninayaka (The Founder and Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation.)

Alain Horst from Switzerland teaching the students in Nanu Oya
Alain Horst from Switzerland teaching the students in Nanu Oya

150. Laura Horst – Switzerland

150.	Laura Horst – Switzerland

150.	Laura Horst - SwitzerlandMs. Laura Horst from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in May, 2018.

TOUR REPORT 

“Dear Nanda

We thank you for the opportunity you gave us to teach English here in Sri Lanka. We learned a lot about the country and its people. We were astonished how greatly we had been welcomed in the village, especially in Segars house and how keen the children were to learn new things. Without knowing English and the western culture, Segars parents had been amazing hosts. Even though our stay had many positive aspects, we decided to leave earlier than planned, as the work was much more challenging and time consuming then described on workaway.info. We think that the Horizon Lanka Academy has a very good aim, but we also think that some points need to be improved for the next volunteers. Below we listed some points that may be improved.

Before Arrival

The communication before our arrival was very short, but as you referenced on your informative website, it was ok for us. The website has information about almost everything. As the website is only for the village Mahawilachchiya it was obvious for us that we will teach in Mahawilachchiya itself.

Our recommendation: As most of the volunteers do not teach in the village itself, it should be made clearly on the website that the academy is spread over whole Sri Lanka and many new branches are opening right now. The volunteers need to know, that the meeting point may not be in Mahawilachchiya.

Arrival

From Colombo we had a six hour bus drive to Anuradhapura, just to be informed that we could teach in Nanu Oya which was another six hour bus drive back to the south. We could have gone there directly from Colombo with comfortable two hours in the train.

Our recommendation: Plan and discuss already in advance where the volunteers should go and save a lot of time and energy of the volunteers. This time and energy should better be used for the work with the children.

New Guest Families

The culture of Sri Lanka and of the one from the western people is very different and we were happy to receive the code of ethics in advance. These rules are very good and very important. Unfortunately we had to learn that our guest family never received these rules. Also you told us that the family has no western toilet but you never mentioned that the family has no shower and the washing happens outside the house. Even though we had been very
surprised, it was no problem for us as we are used to this kind of washing trough our camping experiences.

Our recommendation: The code of ethics should be a high priority to new guest families and you should not just send it to them, but furthermore discuss it with them and make sure everything is well understood. We think it must also be clearly communicated how the situation with toilet and non existing bathroom is, as we are sure many volunteers will have some trouble with it.

Opening a New Branch

Organisation

When we arrived in Nanu Oya, the first day we had to visit the regional education director, the vice regional education director and as well the headmasters of the schools to explain them the organisation Horizon Lanka and what we are going to teach. We felt that neither the local administrator nor the school directors had been informed how Horizon Lanka works and what the volunteers are here for. We would have loved to know for ourselves what our
tasks here would be.

Our recommendation: If opening a new branch, make sure that all people involved know what the academy is about and what the volunteers are capable of and what not.

Working hours

On our arrival we had been asked to work five hours in the morning in four different public schools, four hours in the afternoon for the academy and the evening to improve the English of Segar. Also we had been asked to work on Saturday the whole day. The next day we discussed it again and lowered the working hours. But it was difficult for us to arrive and first have to say “no” to everything.

Our recommendation: Offer the volunteers the minimum amount of working hours and give them the possibility to teach more hours if they want. This gives them the chance to grow slowly in their work. Also we think it is much better if the volunteer work in the beginning just in one school to get to know the teachers, students and rules of the schools. More schools could be added, if the volunteer feels comfortable.

English Teaching Public School

From beginning it was expected of us to teach the classes without the help of a local English teacher. We explained clearly that this is not possible for us, as we didn’t know the level of the children nor how the school here works. Beside an English book (which did not fit to the level of the children), no teaching material was present. In the end, the English teacher did not show up the whole morning. Laura as an experienced teacher was able to teach the classes without school material for a whole morning. But it was extremely stressful for her. For volunteers without many years of teaching experience this would have been just impossible.

Our recommendation: As everyone can teach for Horizon Academy many inexperienced volunteers will come. We think teaching for them is just possible if they get the support of an experienced teacher, very small groups of children or at least good teaching material. If no English teacher and no material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lessons.

English Teaching Academy Afternoon

In the afternoon twenty very motivated children had been there. We decided to teach English as the school headmaster clearly expressed that he would prefer us to teach English than dancing lessons. As we did not have any teaching material, we also needed to prepare the lessons for the afternoon which was very time consuming.

Our recommendation: If no teaching material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lesson. It would be a good idea for the Horizon Lanka Academy to provide some material to the volunteers including for example ideas for games and songs.

IT Teaching

When we arrived in Nanu Oya we learned that no computers are available for the children and that I also should teach English. One school had computers but they were reserved for the teachers.

Our recommendation: If someone is sent to teach IT, make sure that some IT infrastructure is available.
If some of our mentioned recommendations could be put into practice, we are sure, that it could be an amazing experience for all involved parties. Thank you again for the great experience and all the best for the future!”

Explanation

Dear Laura and Alain,

Thanks for the valuable feedback. I understand that many things went disarray as Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya was not yet ready when I sent you two there. In fact, I had not decided to send volunteers there till I go there for a second time and ensure everything is in order. The rash decision to send you two there was based on the extremely hot weather prevailed in Anuradhapura during mornings. But, I should still have made better arrangements in Nanu Oya. I apologize and take responsibility for all these and thank you two a lot for doing a lot despite the unfavorable conditions you faced. – Nanda Wanninayaka (The Founder and Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation.)

Ms. Laura Horst   from Switzerland teaching students in Nanu Oya.
Ms. Laura Horst from Switzerland teaching students in Nanu Oya.

64. Lea Rumpf – Switzerland

64. Lea Rumpf – Switzerland

 

Lea RumpfMiss Lea Rumpf from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation from February to March in 2017.

After having been on the road for more than a month and after many amazing and annoying experiences, I was looking for a place to stay for a few weeks. A place where I don’t have to pack my backpack every 3 days and a place where no Sri Lankan guys will annoy me 😉 But most of all a place to get involved in Sri Lankan rural life and gain new experience while working with the people. I finally felt ready to start my first Sri Lankan Workaway.

After my weekend trip in Sigriya with Sri Lankan friends, I took the bus to Anuradhapura to spend a night there before heading to Mahawilachchiya to start my next adventure. On Monday morning I entered the bus (as always with the help of some really nice Sri Lankan people) to Wilachchiya, not knowing what will wait me there. I was told to get off at a junction which was close to Horizon Lanka. It turned out that it wasn’t close at all.

So there I was, with a 15kg backpack in the middle of a Sri Lankan rural village, no idea where I was supposed to go. I have to mention that I love being lost so I enjoyed the moment. Secondly I love how the Sri Lankan people always help the “sudu kella,” I don’t even need to ask. This concretely means that a very kind woman called her brother who had a car to give me a short ride to Horizon Lanka. I wish this would ever happen back home.

Volunteering in Mahawilachchiya has been such an amazing experience! Since my early childhood there was a photo in our house which has inspired me for many travels so far. The photo shows my parents in India (they were travelling around the world by bicycle), two white faces surrounded by around 50 Indian people. I always wanted to have a picture like this. After only three days I had around 500 selfies from the school and the kids had just been super cute with me all the time. “Teacher.. what’s your name? “ teacher! Selfie?” “Teacher, how are you?” I will always remember these little creatures with their white-blue school uniforms, the girls with the long black braids, their voices and cute faces.

I have mostly been teaching English from 1st to 13th Grade. I doubt I have ever felt so tired before after having been with the 1st grade (6 years old) for only one lesson. Starting with the very basics in a language they have never listened to before is more than challenging. Since they do not even understand you when you ask them to please be quiet and sit down, it can be very tiring. But definitely also very rewarding. Never before have I ever seen such grateful and motivated kids who even worship their teacher. Unfortunately in Europe kids are no longer taught how to respect their teacher, so this experience has even been more impressive for me.

It has inspired me to now take a TEFL course in South Africa and continue teaching English around the world.

I was very surprised to see how unorganized the school seemed to be. Due to the frequent absence of the teachers, the timetable could not be met. Teachers are normally the second important example right after the parents. But how can they be an example if they show the students how little they care about their job by just showing up whenever they fancy to?

Helping the kids further with their English, teaching them new sports and even giving some piano lessons, was what included my engagement at Horizon Lanka Foundation. I personally believe sports and music is the best way to teach kids about life. They learn so much by just doing it. They learn about what it means to be a team, challenges, motivation, giving 100%, victories & defeats, standing up again over and over again. This will help them throughout their whole life in every kind of situation.

What I personally found very sad, was that the kids in Mahawilachchiya do not really have leisure activities and hobbies. They focus too much on studying (and dancing & computers). For people like me who believe life teaches you everything outside of the school, this was shocking. It is surely also consequence of a lack of material, but kids are the most inventing and creative creatures when it comes to playing.

Mahawilachchiya had turned into a home for me from a very short time after my arrival. This is not only a place you call accommodation, I can cordially call it “home.” It’s the people who make this place so special. From the very first moment (started with the above mentioned woman who organized my transfer) I felt accepted and very welcome in Mahawilachchiya. My beautiful family Yamuna, Upul, Chandra, Umandi with baby Nathasha, Pramodhya and Kaushal welcomed me as their lost eldest daughter who they haven’t seen for a long time. Pramodhya even gave up her room to accommodate me. I spent a lot of time playing, laughing and eating with them and will surely miss this wonderful family. The food was just so delicious (besides the fact that I got overfed.) I loved being their playmate and doll.

The great thing in Mahawilachchiya is that you are welcome everywhere and also all the other families always have an open door for you.

I started to spend half of the nights at Horizon Lanka so I could experience Sri Lankan family life on one hand but also enjoyed volunteers house sharing, which was both great! I can even spend the whole day in the hammock, just doing nothing, and people will still care about me and bring me food and herbal tea. I do have wonderful memories of being in Mahawilachchiya, in the nature, meditating.

3 weeks in Mahawilachchiya have given me many life learning lessons. Even after having been to around 40 countries, I have never seen a place before where people seem to be that much connected with nature and original life. The less you have, the more you appreciate what is around.

Sudu Aka will be back soon!

I spent around 5 weeks (4 weeks before Mahawilachchiya and 1 week after) travelling around Sri Lanka. It is such a wonderful place which has so many things to offer. Whatever you are looking for, you will probably find it in Sri Lanka. It is very diverse and it is so easy and cheap to get around. Meeting other travellers or locals is not hard at all. I tried to avoid other tourists as well as possible and got therefore a very local experience by staying with locals all the time. Due to a lack of English (and Sinhala from my side) it was often very hard to get information from locals about Sri Lanka. You feel so connected with mother earth while being in Sri Lanka and it is such a spiritual, inspiring and relaxing place no one should miss out.

I would like to say cordially thank you to my wonderful family who accepted me as their daughter, to the people of Mahawilachchiya who always welcomed me with open arms and showed me how to be happy with the most basic things, to Nanda and Wasantha for all the inspiring ideas and sharing and to my volunteer mates Mohamed and Irina for the very best company and the lifelong friendship!

Lea Rumph with Horizon Lanka students
Lea Rumpf with Horizon Lanka students
Lea Rumph at Horizon Lanka
Lea Rumpf at Horizon Lanka
Lea Rumph at the village playground
Lea Rumpf at the village playground
Lea Rumph at the village playground
Lea Rumpf at the village playground
Lea Rumpf at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf with Wasantha at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf with Wasantha at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf with the tailor who stitched her sari, Surangi
Lea Rumpf with the tailor who stitched her sari, Surangi

32. Emilie Demellayer – Switzerland

32. Emilie Demellayer – Switzerland

Emilie Demellayer

Emilie Demellayer was a 19-year-old university student from Switzerland. She was our first Swiss volunteer. She spent two weeks at Horizon Lanka, Mahawilachchiya. She was a great dancer. She taught dancing to the Horizon Lanka students. She also performed with Horizon Lanka students at the Mini Concert held in February, 2016.

Emilie Demellayer with Horizon Lanka girls
Emilie Demellayer with Horizon Lanka girls
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing to the Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer teaching dancing to the Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayerwith Horizon Lanka girls
Emilie Demellayerwith Horizon Lanka girls
Emilie Demellayerwith Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayerwith Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer walking with Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer walking with Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer bathing with Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer bathing with Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer with Tharindu Anuruddha
Emilie Demellayer with Tharindu Anuruddha
Emilie Demellayer saying goodbye to Horizon Lanka students
Emilie Demellayer saying goodbye to Horizon Lanka students