A little over a week ’til departure, update about Sri Lanka

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My last day at work was last Friday, so now I have time to do more preparation for my trip this summer.

Because we will be traveling to two different countries – India and Sri Lanka – there are two different Fulbright Commissions arranging the two segments of the trip. Fulbright India has been communicative with us since we first found out we had been accepted about 3 months ago. Part of that is out of necessity, as the visa process can be lengthy, but they’ve set up a website for us where we can view information about the program, which is really helpful.

Up until this morning, we had heard nothing from the Sri Lanka commission at all, which was especially troubling given increased violence due to the ongoing civil war between the Sinhalese government and Tamil separatists (there is an easy to follow article on Wikipedia if you want to read about it), but we got an email this morning which put me more at ease. There are a number of Fulbright scholars currently in Sri Lanka, including several who are returning to Sri Lanka at the end of the summer. Although news reports are intimidating, I trust them not to put us in an unsafe situation. I have a friend who has been living in Lebanon the past couple of years, and she has told us about how very different her experience is being there, as opposed to what she sees on the news when she’s in the Bay Area. Also, one of the women going on my trip participated in a summer seminar in Egypt a few years ago, and there was unrest, but the Fulbright people were meticulous about safety and about communicating with families. And there’s always the option of leaving early if I feel unsafe.

That said, I’m getting very excited about my trip. I now have tentative itineraries for all three parts of the trip – the Pre-departure Orientation in Austin, the 4 weeks in India, and the 10 days in Sri Lanka.

The trip is part seminar and part travel, and they are really packing in one opportunity after another to learn from experts and to visit amazing places. In Austin, the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas is hosting us and providing lectures on topics like “Economics and Politics in Contemporary South Asia,” “Ramayana: The Life of an Ancient Text in Modern India,” “Post-Independence Politics and Civil War in Sri Lanka,” and an introduction to Hindi. In India, we will have an academic program in New Delhi for the first few days, and then we travel around the country taking in cultural activities as well as visiting schools and some nonprofits and NGOs. For example, our sunrise boatride on the Ganges will be paired with a visit to the Sankat Mochan Foundation, an environmental NGO working to restore the Ganges. It is a similar program in Sri Lanka, with three days in the beginning in Colombo followed by travel, including visits to the ancient capital and an elephant orphanage.

Ashley and I are hosting a big party tomorrow to celebrate our recent wedding, so I’m going to sign off now and bake a massive cake, but I will post soon about the reading I’ve been doing to prepare.


2 Responses to “A little over a week ’til departure, update about Sri Lanka”

  1. Jon Marley Says:

    Hi Samantha,

    Just wanted to wish you the best of luck in your last days of preparation for the trip. May your travels be safe and fulfilling.

    Jon

  2. SUNDAY Says:

    have fun take alot of pics

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