Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Summer 05 in Sri Lanka: News about Serendib work

Monday, July 18, 2005

After a busy month of planning the Serendib Interview Team will finally embark on a grueling trek around Sri Lanka to conduct teacher interviews for the upcoming Peace Education Camp.
Over the past month, much work has been done both in Ratnapura and Colombo in an effort to get Serendib’s first nation-wide Peace Camp underway. With Nong, Kathleen and Aliaa and the Serendib Sri Lanka team holding down the fort in Ratnapura, Tucker and Sonali have spent much time in the nation’s capital securing funding. The two spent long hard days running from meeting to meeting, talking with INGOs, various Sri Lankan Corporations and meeting with government officials. After waiting for what seemed like hours to speak with the Secretary of Education, Tucker remembered the wonders of the H-Bomb and with a quick flash of his Harvard Business card, was promptly received. In their off-time, Tucker and Sonali explored the obscure corners of their host’s pantry, discovering a novel fruit, "It was some dark green bumpy thing," Sonali explained, "kind of unsavory."
Back in Ratnapura, the Serendib Sri Lanka team along with Nong, Kathleen and Aliaa crammed themselves around the dining table at the Gem Merchant’s house (also known as ‘The Landing Pad’) where they spent upwards of twelve hours addressing 5,000 letters. These letters, containing information about the interview schedule and process for teachers, were sent to government schools all around the Island. Save for minor confusion about the proper manner in which to write a Sri Lankan address, everything went according to plan and two days later the both the office phone and Tucker’s mobile began ringing off the hook with questions from interested teachers. In addition to answering the phone and logging Teacher Applications, Kathleen and Aliaa spent the days searching for additional corporate sponsors.
During the week, the Landing Pad acquired three new residents. Darshana, a highly valued member of the Serendib Sri Lanka team, moved into the house in order to share Tucker’s Pest Control duties and also to play ‘Man of the House’ when Tucker is out of town. Tammy Bewitz, originally of Racine, WI, joined Aliaa in Mani’s old room at the beginning of the week. Nine years ago, Tammy helped conduct Serendib’s first English camp during her time in Sri Lanka as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She has spent the majority of this past week in Matale, visiting her Peace Corps Host family. She will meet up with the Serendib team in Anaradhapura tonight. At midnight, Friday night, the Asia Foundation boys were dispatched to Colombo to pick up the final female member of the Serendib USA team, Saima Govani. Saima now lives in the room fondly labeled ‘the Shrine Room’ and will be putting her recently acquired Harvard Masters in Education to use, through her work formalizing the Peace Camp curriculum.
Now that the house is filled with people, communal dinners have finally been organized with Ummah Nong playing ‘head chef.’ Her amazing Thai and Sri Lankan dinners have added extra spice to fun-filled nights at the Landing Pad. Led by the singing sensation Jesu and the (out of tune) piano in the living room, Serendib Sri Lanka and USA have all joined vocal chords, singing carols, hymms, Disney songs and of course songs from the Sound of Music. The dining table has also turned into a casual classroom with the Asia Foundation boys teaching the Serendib USA team the basics of Sinhala. These lessons will undoubtedly reconvene frequently.
In just a few short hours, the Serendib Interview Team will pile into a bus and begin the seven hour drive up to Anaradhapura. After a day of conducting interviews tomorrow, they will get back into the bus and drive down to Kandy for another day of the same. The final stop will be Matara, on the Southern coast, before returning to Ratnapura on the 21st.


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