The semester is truly coming to an end. We’ve done everything, and now the only thing left to do is say goodbye. I was able to spend my last two weeks in this wonderful country doing some great things, so I have nothing to regret for how I spent these bittersweet last days here.
For one, my independent study project = DONE. My paper was written and my project was presented, meaning I have no more obligatory work for “Education and the Role of Children on Sri Lanka’s Tea Plantations” (the title of my project). I don’t think that means I am finished, though. Working on that project was shaping in so many ways that I think it will be impossible just to drop it. Watching the children on the tea plantations learn to respect themselves enough to give themselves an education despite poor circumstances was an invaluable experience and, at the very least, I want to return just to see how those kids turn out.
Because we were left with some free time after our projects, I was also able to go to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage one morning which, if you know me at all, actually brought out the five-year-old child inside of me. I absolutely adore elephants and to be able to see, touch, and BOTTLE FEED young elephants actually turned me into a clown, I was so excited. Although I am still a little bitter I did not get to see the sea turtle hatchery on the coast that I was hoping to visit, the elephants came pretty close to making up for it.
As for my host family, I can’t even begin to describe how much I am going to miss them. They are hilariously wonderful, and I am so lucky that they welcomed me into their home for four months. My host sister and I made a gourmet meal of scrambled eggs and French toast for the family one night, which was kind of an ordeal. In the end, it worked out and I am pretty sure my host parents liked it, but then again they could just be phenomenal liars.
Writing this post is hard because I don’t even know where to start to wrap up my semester here. Learning to love a culture so utterly different than your own is an invaluable and indescribable experience. I thank everyone who I encountered, regardless of the circumstances, because it all shaped (or will shape) me in some form. It is too weird to think that I am going from this land of Buddhas, elephants, and fruits that I have never heard of to a land of highways, wi-fi, and 2am pizza. Yes, I am excited, but I am also incredibly sad. I know I will return someday, though.
As for my last night in Sri Lanka, I am headed to the Maligawa with my host family. This is the temple that holds the Buddha’s tooth relic, and is probably the most iconic thing in Kandy. How I managed to not go until the very last night is beyond me, but maybe it will be an auspicious ending for my time in Sri Lanka. I will definitely miss it here.