I finished my internship at the end of July, but the eight and a half weeks that I spent in Sri Lanka were truly eye opening. Sri Lanka and I have always had a dynamic relationship, the humidity and mosquitoes always make me feel uninvited, but my family, the culture, and the food always make me want to come back. On top of all that, this year I also had the chance to tutor Ayesha, a girl at the orphanage in my grandparents’ town. This truly helped in shaping my summer experience.
Sri Lanka is going through its own identity crisis, where ethnicity and religion are being questioned in loyalty to the country. It’s its own case study, but it had relevancy in my life and made the summer different than most other summers. My own identity crisis was not the same as what the country was going through, but I was struggling to find legitimacy in my own identity when my American accent shaped the way I was seen as a “real” Sri Lankan. However, being able to tutor Ayesha in English and Ayesha in turn teaching me more Sinhala helped create a bond between us. It also showed her that she wasn’t just a student, she also had skills that she was able to teach to others. It was a powerful summer, and even though she is still learning the basics of English, I am proud to know that in the two months that I was there, she improved in her skills and helped me in mine.
Being in Sri Lanka did show me a few negatives about myself, mostly about how lenient I can get. In order to really teach kids I have to be more strict with lessons. I have to learn how to pay more attention to the tutoring aspect, and not just in creating a positive environment. However, it showed me that tutoring and service work are two things I want to continue doing.
Not all the girls at the orphanage are pictured in the group photo and Ayesha is pictured in the solo photo.