Trip Start Sep 26, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, October 6, 2006

Our host organization hosted an orientation the first few days I was in Colombo. The WUSC (World University Services of Canada who partnered with CECI to create Uniterra - the organization I'm officially volunteering with; Uniterra doesn't have a presence in Sri Lanka, so I'm working closely with WUSC) office was extremely welcoming. We had a lantern lighting ceremony (see picture) followed by tea and Sri Lankan treats.

Our orientation was a whirlwind of different topics. We covered Sri Lankan history, conflict updates, language training, how to work with Sri Lankans, etc... We also learnt how to eat with our hand, as this is how everyone eats here. All the information, combination with the jetlag had me a bit cross-eyed, but I survived.

The highlight of the orientation was an overnight stay with a family 'in the jungle' (that's how the WUSC director described it...). We drove approximately 3 hours north of Colombo - along the beautiful coastline I suspect I saw from the plane a few days earlier.

We were warmly welcomed and shown around the neighborhood. I barely spoke Sinhala and they barely spoke English. This made for some interesting communication strategies. My sound effects came in really handy! When we didn't understand what the other was saying, we just giggled. It was fun.
I showed great interest in the fruit and animals, so they were very kind to point out anything edible or that moved! There was such a diverse array of fruit - everything from berries to strange looking fleshy hard shelled things. It was awesome.
When I was in grade 1, my parents took me to Benkee's (remember the garden center in Winnipeg?) and bought for me this really cool plant whose leaves would close when touched. Sadly, the plant died (ok, I killed it...) and have been looking for it ever since (I have an addictive personality, what can I say). Anyway, this plant, aptly named 'sleepy leaves' in Sinhala, grows everywhere here! I feel like I'm 7 again (only slightly taller) each time I see it, I feel compelled to touch it and giggle.
They also brought us into a driedup paddy field, where we saw so many birds and plants.
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