Happy 2016 everyone! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? It feels good to be back. As I’ve been busy applying and interviewing to teach in Korea, I’ve let time slip away without an update about my recent travels to Sri Lanka. (If you don’t already know, I am preparing to move to Korea to teach with the EPIK program in February). Now that I’m sitting around waiting to hear about my placement city and sign off on my official teaching contract, I have a little more time on my hands to think, process and write.
Sri Lanka was incredibly beautiful. Breathtaking beaches, brilliant green fields of tea growing throughout the mountains, the curiosity and hospitality of the locals and the FOOD. Seriously though, the food. My taste buds will never be the same. The group of people I traveled with went impressively well together-I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to hang out with for two weeks.
When someone asks me excitedly, “How was your trip!?” I genuinely don’t know what to say. I usually reply with a generic positive exclamation. I did, of course, have a seriously wonderful time in Sri Lanka, but how can I even begin to explain the impact that setting foot into another new world has on my soul? I can tell you I saw elephants and got sick with food poisoning for three days and got all dressed up in a saree and drank the local coconut liquor, but when I enter a foreign land something deeper always happens internally than I can describe to you with my words. Travel is a powerful experience–the most powerful, in my opinion. So, instead of a play by play I’ll just share a few of the thoughts which, strung together, make up a rough outline of “how my trip was.”
When you are an average American from the lower middle class who just flew across the world juxtaposed directly next to a Sri Lankan tea worker who makes 600 rupees ($4 USD) per day but is fighting for 1000 ($7 USD), you question things. You just do. You can’t help but think about the $4 latte you grab a few times a week on the way to work, or the little $7 airport salad you ate during your long and incredibly boring layover in Dallas, Texas. You can’t help but wonder about the concept of currency, and the man made idea that the American piece of paper in my right hand is worth more than the Sri Lankan piece of paper in my left. You also can’t escape the reality that though it is a man made idea, you must abide by the principles of these ideas if you want to participate in society like the other humans.
I learned that my acting skills are greater than I thought they were. Or maybe, it’s my eating skills. While the spicy food burned my mouth with the fire of a thousand suns, I was still capable of smiling politely and sitting casually at a table. I even came to enjoy the spiciness of the food, and I find myself adding cayenne pepper or some other spicy spice to everything in the midwestern United States where I live. It’s hard to find any meaning in midwestern food when you’ve just returned from Sri Lanka. I’m excited to try all the spicy food Korea has to offer.
I cannot express how hopeful it made me to see a country with a recent history of a horrific civil war full of such religious tolerance. Of course I was only around for two weeks but in that short time I watched Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians exist peacefully and respectfully together. The US could take some notes.
Stay tuned for my first post from Korea…I can’t wait to hop on another plane next month and be off on my next adventure. Keep in touch, please! And have a beautiful new year.
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