- Group:Lingfield College
Sri Lanka 2017
- Age:16-18 years old
- Group Size:16 students and 3 staff members
- Project:Care & Community
- Destination:Matugama, Sri Lanka
In June 2017, a group of students and teachers from Lingfield College travelled to Matugama, just south of Colombo. They flew overnight to Colombo from Heathrow, and then spent two weeks working on a Care & Community project together. I worked with the group as their Volunteer Coordinator in Sri Lanka, and here’s a breakdown of what they got up to.
What they did
During the mornings, the group would split into five smaller teams and travel to a number of local preschools to help develop the children’s basic English; their topics ranged from road safety, to animals, to colours of the rainbow and much more. Arts and crafts proved very popular, but there were also songs and games, sensory activities and sports.
“As is the norm, our main objective was to use alternative teaching methods which would introduce more interactive lessons into every day school life. This enabled us to ever so slightly develop the children’s basic English.”
In the afternoons, the group would split in half; one half would travel to a special needs school, where they undertook the task of painting a 100m long wall around the edge of the school grounds. The group painted three different murals, all of which were very well-received by the children and staff at the school. There was a beach scene, a woodland fresco and a section on politeness and manners as requested by the school.
The other half of the group would run more advanced English lessons with local adults, teaching them situational vocabulary, grammar and tenses. The students would plan their activities each evening, making sure they had all their resources prepared for their lessons the following day.
“Our afternoons then consisted of either wall painting at a school for children with special needs or teaching local adults more advanced English, involving grammar and correct use of tenses. This was great to learn and is particularly something I can highlight for future volunteers that are looking to apply for a job or for university. Being able to communicate, despite evident obstacles, is a skill that universities and employers are looking for.”
The group had two weekends off over the course of their trip, and the first was spent in Kandy. The first day saw them stopping en route to Kandy for a visit to Pinawella Elephant orphanage for an up-close encounter with rescued elephants. The rest of the weekend was spent shopping in one of the town’s markets, watching a traditional Kandyan dance show, exploring the world famous Temple of the Tooth, delving into the strange world of Helga’s Folly and more.
Their second weekend was split between the colonial town of Galle to the south, where the group explored the old fort and spent the afternoon relaxing and swimming at a hotel by the beach, and a tour of the capital, Colombo.
“During our weekends, we managed to complete every tourist activity offered in the south of Sri Lanka. These visits were a great platform to build an understanding of the culture but also an opportunity to do something unique only offered in the region. The tea processing factory being a classic option along with the elephant sanctuary, but also some controversial choices as well, such as Helga’s Folly.”
“Projects Abroad in particular were outstanding. We were welcomed and looked after throughout the whole trip. We were allocated two trip advisors; Bessie and Amir. They were informative and helpful in terms of both culture and cards games hence how they became very much part the group. At no point was there an unorganised half hour without laughs, or curry for that matter!These trips are conducted with totally inclusive attitudes which are key to why so many people describe their experiences as “life-changing” and “unforgettable”. It is without doubt something I would suggest to anyone, wherever you go and whatever you will try to achieve, it is an unforgettable trip that will define your time at school.”– Fin Edwards, Lingfield College Student
It was great to see the change in the group, even across a short space of time. Many of those who started out nervous and unsure of themselves on the first day were soon throwing themselves into every activity with the utmost enthusiasm. Despite not all of the group knowing each other very well before they came to Sri Lanka, the students seemed to quickly click as friends and they boosted each other’s’ confidence throughout the duration of the project, even in the face of challenges.
Three key people must be mentioned as the driving force behind the group and they are the group leaders; Miss Cooper, Miss Halket and Mr Gonachon were ceaselessly encouraging and brilliant. It was a pleasure to work with this group and we’re looking forward to having them in Ghana next year!
Bessie Richards – Projects Abroad Volunteer Coordinator
Read more about Care & Community in Sri Lanka.