Things in Kandy have been crazy. We go to class an awful lot because they are trying to get us to speak Sinhala competently within the first couple weeks. It seems like a miracle but I am actually beginning to speak and understand the language — not well, but a little.
I’ve already learned so much and I haven’t even been here for two weeks, but learning the language almost seems superficial compared to what the Sri Lankan citizens are teaching us. We’re learning about a society in transition, torn by race, religion, language, and political theory. More importantly as a group we are beginning to make the connections as to why these conflicts arise. In Sri Lanka we can see the actual affects of the colonial period. In turn, we can grasp the roots of conflicts in a way not possible from a classroom. I think being here is already changing my internal views of the world and my capacity to understand the complexity of international issues. Certainly, I am glad I decided to come here because it is an opportunity for growth that I may never be offered again.
To diffuse the seemingly serious tone of this entry I’ve decided to mention a new love I’ve found: Kimbula Bunnese. As a side note my spelling of Sinhalese words is questionable at best. Because it’s a character language, the Roman script version is guesswork. Kimbula Bunnese translates to crocodile buns, which are pretty much long rolls with sugar on them, no crocodile meat! My host mother was in fact elated that after offering me every type of food possible she has found a food that I love. However, she promised she would serve them to me only once a week, because I explained to her that in America gaining weight was not the goal of most young women (in Sri Lanka the adverse appears to be true).
I think it’s time to end this entry because I can see the sun is setting and I must be home by dark to have tea with my host family and practice my Sinhala. This will be my last entry for a little over a week because the six other students and I are traveling with six faculty members to all the historic sites in the north, as part of our Material Culture course. I’m sure when I come back I’ll have lots of stories about hikes in blinding heat, maybe some snakes and, without a doubt, a plethora of motion sickness.