Posted by: horizonlankafoundationlk | August 9, 2007

My Experiences in Horizon Lanka Academy – Fiona Cuthbertson, UK

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Mrs. Fiona Cuthbertson of United Kingdom taught 2 months in Horizon Lanka Academy, Mahavilachchiya from April to May. She was the second volunteer to come to Horizon Lanka under Global Vision International’s volunteer scheme to Horizon Lanka. Below is her tour report.

I am now coming to the end of my Sri Lanka project; the last eight weeks have flown by. It will be really sad to leave on Friday, but they say if you have those feelings then you had a great time. That I certainly have!

Prior to this I had had no experience in teaching English, and the first couple of weeks I did wonder if I could actually cut it. Believe me it does get easier as the kids get to know you and you overcome your nerves. The children are very shy, but they really do come out of their shell once they get to know you. They are a joy to teach and so enthusiastic.

The advantage of being at Horizon Lanka is the tools you have to work with to make their lessons interesting and fun. To name a few, I have used computers, DVD’s and the even used various programs on Satellite TV. This afternoon I will be showing the Grade 6 & 7 a Tintin DVD and stopping it at regular intervals and asking them questions. It’s the kind of thing that they love. I usually end the lesson with playing games. Hangi Mutto, (hide and seek to you and me) is their favourite. I’m sure one of the motivations in coming to class is to play Hangi Mutto!

The program provided me with the opportunity to stay with a local family. It has been an amazing experience. I will miss them all when I go. The accommodation is basic but comfortable and they go out of their way to make you feel at home as they realize that you are so far away from your own family. Being with a family you get to celebrate all their holidays, Sri Lanka has many. Whilst here I have been part of their New Year celebration, a word of warning is, be prepared to eat a lot of cake! This last weekend was Vesak Poya; this two day holiday commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. They celebrate by making Paper Lanterns which they hang outside of their houses. It was very beautiful and going to the temple with my family was a highlight.

My memories of this project will of course be the kids, but also the people in the villages who were so welcoming and friendly. The time here did take me out of my comfort zone, but it provided me with an amazing experience being immersed in Sri Lankan culture and the wonderful people in the community. I would recommend anyone to take the challenge, to volunteer in Sri Lanka to have a rewarding and memorable experience. I know I have!

Fiona Cuthbertson, UK

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