First Encounters

Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
Trip End Jan 17, 2010

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Where I stayed
A beautiful Whitehouse

Flag of Sri Lanka  , Southern,
Friday, October 30, 2009

Social sciences are much more easily studied than practiced, is the nugget of wisdom emerging from my first day as "Miss Iso". The first thing I felt was a great “hair envy”, as all the schoolgirls stood in the playground with immaculate waist-long plats, neatly tied up with perfect red ribbon. By the time my hair will be that long I will be at least 30, and by that time I will definitely be too old to have it plated with a ribbon bow at the end of it. Damn it. And by the time I combed and braided mine this morning, it had already turned into a rather large ball of fluff. Better leave certain things to the professionals. After my introduction to faculty and staff during the morning assembly, I was off to my first class: home science. If I were still at school, this would be by far my favourite subject, as during my time there I helped cut up ingredients to prepared rotis to be sold at the school tuck shop, attempted to learn embroidery, and learnt the process a woman's body goes through between ovulation and the development of an embryo. All incredibly useful and I can’t wait for the next instalment in tomorrow’s class, where however the food won’t be nearly as exciting as it’s my turn to bring a recipe, and in order to avoid embarrassment through potential failure I will make Nigella’s foolproof chocolate cake. I will leave fancier concoctions until my confidence levels with my new classmates rises a little...

               Then came my first two attempts at teaching English, and I wish I could say they went swimmingly and I really can’t believe I was so worried about it... The reality is that I was terrified. It is very hard to keep the attention of 7-8 year olds when you can’t explain to them in Sinhalese the really fun game you had planned for them, and when you don’t have any sort of book to follow... Thought i was going to pass out in the 32 degrees and 80% humidity. Oh, and long trousers. I am seriously starting to regret not taking acting or miming lessons before embarking on this adventure. Before I knew it, one child was crying, having been hit by another who was cheekily smiling at me, most of the girls were taking it in turns to jump off their desks as if they were diving boards, while the rest of them had found all the stashes of blackboard chalk and were half using it write, half throwing it at each other. I sat on my teacher’s desk for what must have been half a minute (but felt like half an hour), engulfed in this whirlwind of screaming, throwing and jumping, almost entranced. At the end I received lots of goodbyes and even two kisses on the cheek, which made me think that perhaps it wasn’t as disastrous as I felt it to be... And anyway I’m sure it will get easier... Embroidery is definitely something I’ve missed out on... I'm open for bookings if any of you would like a flower (that’s the only thing I can do for now) embroidered on any of your garments. More options will follow in the future weeks as I progress in my home science class…

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