Queen's College's Sri Lankan Experience
Monday 17th October
Today was our first full day in Kandy and it was extremely hot. We got up early and travelled to Peradeniya University where we played against two Sri Lankan netball teams called Gateway and VSL who were very good. It was a fast game; their marking and shooting was very strong. At the beginning we were super-hot, during the first quarter we found it hard to cope with the heat. But after the second half we got used to it and our playing improved. Some girls really struggled with the heat but even so the game was very fun. We played in a gym which was surrounded by monkeys in the trees, and a couple made it into the sports hall! Congratulations to Alexia and Stasia who were our most valuable players (MVP’s).
After that we came back to the hotel and relaxed for a few hours. The majority of us went down to the pool and we put our feet in. Not long after that we visited the Temple of the Tooth and experienced something amazing. We not only learnt about the beliefs of Buddhism but we got to see everything from our own perspective. We then walked down to a big hall and watched the cultural dance. We saw men walk on boiling coal and put fire all over their body, including their mouth!!! We then came back to the hotel and had a nice dinner ready for the next day.
Tuesday 18th October
Today we played another set of netball matches against two Sri Lankan schools at the Peradeniya University. It was another hot day, but our teams were more prepared and ready to play - winning the first match with impressive speed and technique. The second team did well, ending the game only two goals away from a draw. Both teams and schools played well together and demonstrated great sportsmanship during and after the match.
After netball, we got on our coach to the Pinnewala Elephant Sanctuary. We got to take pictures with the elephants, pet them, and watch them being fed from a very close view. We then had a much needed lunch by the river, where we could see the elephants bathing.
Walking back to the bus, we were able to shop at some of the market stalls, where many of us bought elephant trousers and small gifts for family. We even saw a small shop that made paper out of elephant dung.
We then had a coach journey to Columbo, and checked into our new hotel for dinner and a rest.
Wednesday 19th October
Today was our first day of cricket. We woke up at 7am and made our way towards Wesley College grounds where, after Columbo's first rainfall in 7 months, a soggy pitch awaited us! After a warm up and a few drills, the teams begun to arrive. Team one played Gotham, which was comprised of a broad range of ages, which made losing a little more bearable. Everyone played well and came back smiling. We enjoyed talking to the Sri Lankan team after the match and learning more about the girls. Team two played Prince of Wales College. After a shaky start, the team partially lost their spirit, however, funny mishaps (sliding while trying to execute an efficient long barrier) and seeing the locals enjoying the game from the slide line, quickly brought joy back to the team. The matches were a big learning curve for us and we are looking forward to building on our performance tomorrow.
After cricket, we made our way back to the hotel for lunch, a quick shower and some revision for the II Juniors, then we were back on the coach for some fun adventuring. We had a city tour of Columbo, where our tour guide Maxi explained the historical aspect of some interesting looking buildings and temples.
We stopped at Independence Square which was a big monument celebrating Sri Lanka's independence. It had big pillars and stone lion figurines everywhere. Afterwards we went shopping which we were all excited about. This was yet another opportunity to buy glittery elephants and baggy pants, because of course we did not have enough yet. We also bought Sri Lankan biscuits and chocolates. Can't wait to play some more cricket!!!
Thursday 20th October
Today was our fourth day in Sri Lanka. We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel and then went to a Hindu Temple a short while away. Our tour around the temple was brief but interesting. We were lucky enough to see the worshipping of the Hindu Gods by public as we walked around.
Afterwards we travelled to the cricket pitch we had played at the day before. We played two new teams, one of which was the best in the country in their age group. We unfortunately lost both games but enjoyed the experience and improved our cricket skills. Afterwards we mingled with one of the teams and took part in a series of games, songs and dances from both cultures, teaching them to each other. We also exchanged some social media accounts and small gifts such as hats, badges and yoyo's.
We then enjoyed lunch on the bus, while we journeyed to Palms Hotel in Beruwela which we were really excited about as it had a pool with a lifeguard, meaning we were allowed to swim. We had lots of free time this afternoon to relax by the pool and chill in our rooms. We then enjoyed dinner at our hotel and went to our rooms to relax and have a much needed rest.
Friday 21st October
It was an early morning start at 6:40am after our first night at the Palms Hotel. We were up and out by 8 after a delightful breakfast of delicacies.
Our first stop was picking up Father Robert, a Religious Studies teacher at Brighton College and also the founder of Extra Cover, the charity that set up the 3 schools we visited. He set up his charity, after the Tsunami in 2004. Extra Cover used to focus on building people new homes after the Tsunami, but now they focus on children in poverty. We were lucky enough to visit three of the schools.
The first school we visited was a primary school which started off with five pupils and now has 18. They sang us two songs and one of the boys recited us geography of where we were. We had a short play around with the children using the netballs that we donated, then after giving them their presents we were on the next adventure to visit the second school. This one was much bigger with approximately 60 pupils. We arrived as they presented us with bunches of flowers like the first school. As we settled in we played tag with them and ballgames as well as blowing up balloons for the smaller kids. We acted as older sisters because some of them didn't have any at home. It was really nice to interact with the kids and see their life style and how different it is to ours. We had an opportunity to try the school lunches, it wasn't exactly our cup of tea, but we now definitely value our food a bit more. As they performed their cultural dances we sadly had to leave. We presented them with gifts of bubbles, sweets and pens and said our goodbyes and got on the coach to the next school.
The third school we visited was slightly different as it had a class room devoted to special-needs children. In their culture these children, and their families, are discriminated against and excluded because people think the family is cursed from something you did in an earlier life. These children are usually not able to leave the house or socialise with people. They were so happy that we took the time to sing English songs with them and play simple games that they could understand. We gave them the rest of our presents and swiftly left on the coach to the turtle sanctuary. The man told us about endangered species and held baby turtles that were 3 days old. We bought some 'save the turtle'
t-shirts and then returned to our hotel where had a quick swim and got ready for dinner. And that was finally the end of our long but very fun tiring day.
Saturday 22 October
The last day of the Sri Lanka tour was punctuated with laughter, netball games and of course, McDonald's. We all mounted onto the bus, which would take us to the netball match. However, we were rewarded with the most amazing lunch due to our hard work during the whole trip. Our mouths drawled over the delicious smell of Mc Donald's as we entered the luxurious diner. We devoured the heavenly burgers and fries and, of course, our Mc Flurry. The netball match was held outside causing the hot sun to burn down onto our shoulders, which had a result of all of us smothering sun cream all over our faces and bodies leaving us completely white. Right before the netball match we were surprised to be completely soaked by the hoses on the hockey turf right next door. We were ready to begin the match. Only a 1/4 way into the match and we were already exhausted. Girls came off and we're replaced, but we still did our hardest. Bottles of water were used to cool the girls down as the teachers held them above their heads and had a result of them being completely soaked from tip to toe. The girls were doing so well and we were almost winning when the other school raced up to us and surprisingly beat us. We shook hands and congratulated them on good play. We took wonderful pictures and gave presents to each other. We swapped numbers so we could stay in touch and still today we talk to them. Before we left we had a fun game where the teachers and referees were involved. Playing against our teachers showed us how lucky and privileged we are to have them as they are so skilled. After this we went back onto the coach where the atmosphere was sticky and filled with bubbly excitement.
Flying home from Sri Lanka – Sunday 23 October
As our incredible tour came to an end, we thought about all the wonderful food we had eaten at endless buffets (our favourite were the pancakes in banana leaves), places we had visited and people we had met.We had so much fun in all of the primary schools and it was amazing to see that despite the fact that these children had nothing, they still managed to greet us with bouquets of flowers and cards.We all enjoyed the netball and cricket matches, even if we did lose most of them!It was very interesting to watch the other girls warm up in a completely different way to us as they play in very hot, humid temperatures on an everyday basis, whilst we play in (usually) rainy, colder weather. It was fascinating to see how their coaches talked and interacted with the girls and although these girls lived so far away from us, there were still many similarities between us.
We enjoyed experiencing all the Sri Lankan culture such as the Hindu and Buddhist temples, everyday life in markets and on the streets and seeing all the vibrant coloured Tuk Tuks, carrying people to work each day amidst the daily rush hour. We were fortunate enough to see both the current modern culture of Sri Lanka and also old traditions at the dance show in Kandy. Everywhere we went we were always welcomed in and greeted with ‘Ayubowan’.
Going on the tour has not only inspired us all, but we have also created international lifelong friendships and discovered new cultures. We have learnt so many new things that we will take away and apply to our lives.
Written by students of Queen's College