Arriving in Sri Lanka just under a month ago, I cannot say that my expectations have been met. In truth, I came with very few expectations, other than what can be found in the travel books and on the internet. When most westerners think of Sri Lanka, tea and the musician M.I.A. likely come to mind, and not much else. I have found the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” to be exciting, beautiful and incredibly educational. Every day I am learning something, whether it be some nuance of government relations, a new word in Tamil or Sinhala, or how not to fall out of a packed three-wheeler.
Colombo is diverse cities filled with contradiction, both modern and traditional, secular and religious. Walking down the same street, I see women wearing business suits and others wearing traditional saris; both may even have similar professions. I have seen amazingly beautiful beaches usually reserved for tourists and the Colombo elite, and beaches used by locals that are covered in trash. Some streets I walk down people don’t give me a second look, and in other situations children laugh and run away from me because they’ve never seen a white woman in person before. I hope to explore safely off the beaten track and be exposed to, as it has been said to me, the “real Colombo,” as much as possible, and share some of the experiences I have in this blog.
Thus far, I have found a rich and resilient culture full of people who still have hope despite decades of hardship. Sri Lanka is a country trying to bounce back from tragedy. In 2004, the country was devastated by a tsunami it still has not fully recovered from. In May, 2009, the government declared victory in the thirty-year long civil war that had devastated much of the country. I am excited to do some good work in the aftermath of these events, and gain a full understanding of the challenges that Sri Lanka faces in the post-war era.
Posted By Lauren Katz
Posted Nov 23rd, 2010