Sri Lanka: Here’s the Scoop

Sigiriya_Sri_LankaI may have made a few references to my big trip coming up, but I thought I’d dedicate a post to it just to give everyone the low-down. So here’s what’s up.  Here’s why it’s up.  And here how it’s going down.

I work with the study abroad office at my school.  Which is a virtual goldmine for meeting the coolest people.  I knew back in January that I could graduate a semester early, but I hadn’t yet considered taking the fall semester to leave the country and then return for the spring semester and graduate thereafter.  But… after working a fair, chatting with some professors, later meeting with a few more professors, I was quickly enamored with this quickly-forming plan.  It will be challenging for a ton of reasons- most of which I’m not even aware of yet- but I think it will be something that can shape my life for the better and I feel so lucky to have stumbled into this opening.

Okay here’s the game plan.  There’s this organization called Sarvodaya that is a huge, established NGO in Sri Lanka.  They have many different branches of aid that include microfinance, education and community health- among many others.  They accept interns and volunteers year-round and many Virginia Tech students have passed through over the years.  The specific study abroad programs that lead most of these students didn’t quite fit with my schedule, so I looked into the independent interning option.  After jumping through my fair share of hoops, pieces started to fall together.  Ideally, I’ll be able to work with the community health department for about three months, from September through November, while staying at the headquarters located in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.  The exact tasks I’ll be assisting with will unfold once I’m there and can vary as much as I choose.  Knowing that I’m entering into something so vastly different than anything I’ve been a part of before, I have no expectations.  I’ll be learning everyday and I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity- and creativity- to work something so crazy into my wild undergrad path with VT. Shoot, man.  Wild times.

Those are the basics.  I’m mostly volunteering, although I did work it so that I’ll be taking  credits while I’m there, composed of an internship class and an independent study.  Which is great because It’ll require me to learn more about the country I’m living in, I won’t be able to skip over the history out of laziness and can hopefully better appreciate the things I see and do.

Inherently, there are plenty of risks in this plan but I’ll leave them to your imagination if you feel the need to explore that route.  But here are the pros.  Here’s why I’m excited about this new path and why it seems to have fallen together so well.

> It’s different.  I’m headed into the field of international health.  Basically public health, but on the global scale.  The kind of things the WHO and CDC work with.  I don’t really want to do medicine and treatment, like an MD or DO, but rather I want to work with health and preventative care.  Anyhow, the fellowships and positions I’m shooting for post-grad will be stacking me up against other travelers and curious kids.  Although I’ve seen some cool places, I don’t think a single study abroad or a few vacations will go quite as far.  And Spanish is great and practical, but it’s second to English in the US and not all that unique in and of itself.  Same for the Christian background that follows alongside it.  All that goes out the window for SL.  Different alphabet.  Different religions. Different way of handling everything.  I’m shooting for the “different” card.  Because I want that change, but also because I think it is those shifted perspectives that can add the most to these international positions.  Not just to be better qualified, but because I feel that those qualifications are implemented for a reason- they really do help organizations to develop as more rounded, open-minded and hopefully successful .

> Okay I’ll wrap this up.  You all don’t need an essay, hopefully you just read the first paragraph, offered a high five and are now scrolling for pictures of elephants. That’s cool, I’ll take the high five.  But here’s some quick rational to the faq, “why now?”  Because I can.  Why not? And why wait?  This is now becoming a part of my undergrad experience as opposed to a follow up.  It’s getting me out in my field before I’m forced into it, taking full advantage of the study abroad opportunities available.

SO. That’s the jist.  Here’s the promised elephant pic.  If I can encounter elephants frolicking on a beach I think all will be right with the world.  Good thing I’ve got my priorities straight.291016elephant_surf_srilanka (1)sri_lankan_elephantbyseabanner__3_554022_460890683981209_325212573_n

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