It was 6am Monday morning when myself and three other brave teachers boarded a bus with 27-eleven-year-olds. It was 6:15am when we realized that the DVD player wasn’t working and the pure horror set in. We were trapped for 7 + hours!
Remember being a school kid on a bus with all your friends on a field trip? Even the weekly trips to Centennial School for Home Ec. and Industrial Arts seemed more magical because of the bus ride. Every sort of possible middle school drama happened on the bus. I seem to remember agreeing to “go out” with a boy and then dumping him all in the same bus ride. The idea of a boyfriend seemed appealing until I realized that I was going to have to sit beside him.
Well this particular bus ride was no exception and it was even more special because it meant 4 days and 3 nights away from mom and dad. Despite one child’s threat of going on a hunger strike because I wouldn’t tell them our roommates until we arrived, the ride was smooth. By the way, that same child was munching on Oreo cookies when I looked back 15 minutes later.
This particular field trip was one that all the students from our school go on annually. Each grade has a specific destination in Sri Lanka to escape the confines of the school walls and learn about our host country. This year we were trying something different for the sixth grade trip. We were partnered with a local school in the hill country. Rather than actually teaching the students about Sri Lanka, we thought we’d let the kids learn from each other.
What they learned can pretty much be summed up by this comprehensive chart they assembled.
The week was great and we as teachers also learned a whole lot. I’m looking forward to when we will host the Bandarawela students and teachers at our school and the professional exchanges we will have. But right now, I’m even more looking forward to sleep.
They pulled out all the stops to welcome us in true Sri Lankan style.
Like royalty we were greeted by the students lined up in their uniforms to give us each a flower and a special message.
After this greeting, the students of Sussex were allowed the special treat of ditching their uniforms.
One of the student highlights was being able to play on an old school playground. None of that borrowing plastic. Rusty metal and exposed nails makes the equipment way more fun.
At first the students were shy around one another, but in no time they were exchanging facebook information.
All 50 students were gathered in the library to experience an authentic day of school. The students even had to stand up and give a “Good morning Teacher”. I’m trying to get my students to bow to me at the end of the day like is traditionally done, but they don’t seem to like that idea.
We ran the kids ragged and even had them asking if they could go to bed early. That was exactly the point of this three hour uphill hike!
A definite highlight was the last night we all spent together. The hotel catered a BBQ supper for all the students and their parents.
The Bandarawela students came to the BBQ supper dressed to the nines. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize the formality of the night and showed up in casual clothes smelling like campfire.
Check out these amazing party frocks that were purchased especially for this occasion.
It was wonderful to connect more with the community including the many parents who came.
Beatrice is regaling Steve with her tales of travel and feats of strength.
The music teacher even assembled his band so that there was entertainment and dancing.
We all camped out on a tea estate property.
This night there was a heated discussion about gender roles and the differences between the two schools.
The students actually awoke early to witness this beautiful sunrise and they QUIETLY watched it. What a wonderful moment!
We were treated to tea and cake at one of the student’s homes. Her dad is a tea estate manager in the area.
Beautiful landscapes and colourful Hindu temples grace this area.
A lady is shown here plucking day. They make about $5 / day plus accommodations for this difficult job.
The students participate in a physical education lesson at the local grounds. The warm-up is old school calisthenics. Love it!
The teachers of Bandarawela Sussex are pictured with our grade 6 team. We look forward to continuing professional exchanges with them.
Here is the whole troupe of sixth graders. This was taken just before boarding the bus to go home and every single one of them actually wanted to stay longer.