After our short break in Udawalawe and Haputale, our second Workaway gave us the opportunity to teach English in Sri Lanka, something we had both been very keen to do before coming away. Located in the remote village of Hingurukaduwa, near the Sri Lankan Hill Country, was the ‘Lak Aruna English and IT Centre’, where we would be based for the next 10 days.
Saturdays were the main teaching days, with about a hundred children descending on the centre for extra-curricular English lessons between 07.30-13.00. Although we only took small groups (5-7 students) of the best English speakers, we found the teaching quite challenging, and have since gained a whole new respect for full time teachers!
The teaching on weekdays, as all the students have normal school, was just two hours of home schooling in the evening with groups of 2-4 students, which was much less challenging than the busy Saturdays. It was also a brilliant experience to be so warmly welcomed into a variety of Sri Lankan homes, where we were always treated with tea, biscuits, fruit drinks, and sometimes even whole dinners!
On top of the normal teaching programme, we were lucky enough to be in Hingurukaduwa during the visit of a group of Australian donors to the ‘Foundation of Goodness’ who support the centre. For their arrival the centre had arranged a small presentation to show the various activities that their money supports, and somehow we ended up with the starring roles! Luckily it went alright and it was so sweet to see how much the success of the centre meant to these donors, who all got a little bit emotional at the end.
The highlight of our time at Hingurukaduwa was the time spent with our amazing homestay family, who looked after us like their own family. They gave us a comfy bed, cooked three meals a day (rice and curry!) and made countless cups of tea. We played many evening games of cards, chess and Carrom (a Southeast Asian board game) as we grew closer to the family.
The children, Viraji and Pabasara, especially loved taking us to the places most important to them - the river and the temple - and this gave us such a wonderful insight into day to day rural Sri Lankan life. It was amazing to see how central the river was to their lives as they often shower, wash clothes and relax in the small but beautiful river that runs through their village.
Our evening visit to their local temple also felt really special. With incense burning everywhere, we approached the temple by crossing a shallow section of river. The temple was dimly lit and felt beautifully secluded. Pabasara then showed us the Buddha statue his family had donated to the temple after his successful heart operation at just 1 year old, which was obviously of particular personal significance to the family.
Although we weren’t too sad to leave the busy Saturdays and 4.30am radio alarm behind, we certainly will miss the early morning walks to the centre, the children’s enthusiasm to learn, and our lovely homestay family.