RSIS Sri Lanka: building classrooms (and friendships)

Posted: 17 December 2018

Teamwork and leadership

Students have been uniting as a team on the project work site and divvy up tasks such as digging trenches, mixing cement, planting orange trees and whacking weeds. Students have been taking it in turns to lead each team, developing valuable leadership skills. Slowly but surely, their work is paying off – the walls of the classroom are now at window height and 23 trees were planted TODAY alone!

Student update by: Tom and Will

We have only known each other for a week but it feels like we have been friends our entire life. The bonds that we have formed in this group have really changed our outlooks on life and helped us to understand the wider world around us. The work has been pretty chilled recently as most of the toughest work has already been completed. This has given us ample time to bond and really converse into deeper relationships with all our peers.

Living in and around the local community highlights the privileges we have in our everyday lives back home. Last night we were challenged through a scavenger hunt, which really excelled our friendship through a series of tough but enjoyable activities set by Vicki to make a fool of ourselves and offer a bit of a giggle. The laid-back, easy going nature of this game provided welcomed relief from the hard work of mixing cement which has dominated our lives for the last few days.

We are now on the home stretch with only two and a half working days to go before a troubling test of cunning and wit exemplified through a cricket match against the local community. As the sun sets on our time in this extraordinary country we’ve all grown to love, Sri Lanka, we must use this experience to shape a path to become a more worldly citizen of our honoured lifestyles. We thank all individuals who have greatly contributed to the success of this life changing experiences and for the times ahead as we complete our final endeavours.

Student update by: Carl and Hannah

Snapshot Moment: We were all far too noisy, too loud as per usual. Everyone was chatting and joking as we normally do while digging and planting on the work-site. However, when the jeeps stopped, the atmosphere was different. The guide stuck his head out of the window in order to let us know what he had seen. Elephants! Sure enough, far out on the other side of a wide grassland area, we could see a huge number of gathered elephants, this time the jeep was quiet. In fact, the jeep was quiet for the first time since the safari started. The longer we watched and waited, the more elephants seemed to emerge from the foliage. We were blessed with some up-close and personal viewing of a smaller group of elephants, a family perhaps, right on the edge of the road. It was like being in a documentary. As we looked past the horizon of massive grey animals, desperately trying to take it all in, the entire forest came alive, greeting us with sounds we had never heard before.

To give you the picture in our minds-eye, there was an endless amount of grassland, numerous elephants, a large line of peacocks were strutting in our centre-view, a giant group of buffalo were accumulating to the left whilst the setting sun illuminated the silhouettes of distant mountains, both large and small.

We just sat. We watched. We were silent. We sat there as the sun went down which gave the sky this gorgeous mix-match of reds, oranges and pinks alongside the still blues of the Sri Lankan skies, it was like the splatter of colours from a painter’s pallet. After over an hour, we began to move once again. Except there was no more loud jokes or chatting. Our jeep sat in an awe-stricken silence for over fifteen minutes on our way back to the camp. One jeep member captured the moment we had shared perfectly, his whisper resounded in us all, he said, “This right here, this is Sri Lanka”…

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