Saturday, March 8, 2014

Orientation session

On the day after our arrival Hansika, the project co-ordinator arrived at our hotel for an orientation session and to bring us to the school to meet everyone.  She had arrived from Colombo with a car and driver.

We were given some background information on the school and what would be expected of us. We were warned that the standard of English was not high. Apparently, this is the case once you leave the capital Colombo. But we were reassured that the ex-principal Mr. Perera would be the local co-ordinator and would be on hand to help us all the time. Again, the need for volunteers to be flexible was mentioned.

Next came a little aside. Chris the overall project director for Saga, asked Hansika to tell us that contrary to the written confirmations we had from Saga, that we were booked into the Cinnamon Bey Hotel for 28 nights, there was a slight problem. Two of the four weekends we would be staying there, the hotel was fully booked out and we would have to leave. Their solution was that they would send us to Kandy on the first weekend, provide a car and driver and a hotel. The second weekend they had booked us into another hotel locally.

This suited me. I had planned to visit Kandy while I was here, so this would be a "most" expenses paid trip. The second weekend, I suggested that I would like to go to Galle so if they could book a hotel for me there, it would suit me better than another local hotel.

Sue was not happy as she had booked a tour of Sri Lanka  to begin immediately after our four week volunteering stint. Maggie agreed but she had already been to Kandy and Galle. However she also wanted to Galle again. Sue agreed to come as she did not want to stay in another hotel by herself.

The part that we did not like was that two weekends in a row, we would have to pack our belongings and vacate our rooms. It did not warrant well for Saga's organisation skills. They had known from early last summer that they had volunteers coming but they could not manage to book our accommodation properly.

We were then brought by car to the school to meet the Principal, Mr. Perara and the staff.  The staff were warm and welcoming. I wondered how the Principal felt, as the school was referred to as Mr. Perara's school, and he seemed to be the person of import on the day.  

We discussed what the school required and how we might best be deployed  in the coming weeks. It was decided that I would be best working with the senior grades 9, 10 and 11. These children would then be able to teach the younger ones. In addition to our classes with the children, the staff expressed a wish that we stay an hour after school each day to practise speaking English with them. This might be even more beneficial than working with the children.

We had a quick tour of the school and it was back to the hotel.  Orientation was over and we were free for a long weekend. Friday was a Poya day, a full moon day. Every Poya Day is an official holiday.

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