Back to TGS today and I broke the good news about my increased availability, which seemed to go down well. I’ll be attending Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, splitting my time between English and ICT. The atmosphere there is so different: when I arrived today, Rick was working with a group of wee ones and a “parachute”, bouncing a ball into the air and trying to get them to work as a team, nobody seems to shout at the children, the place is bright and lively and generally a fun place to be. The classes are small and I think fees are probably higher than TIS. My original plan had been to come out here and work in some run-down hovel of a school where – not to sound too pompous – I could “do some good”. That hasn’t quite worked out the way I expected, but this looks like a worthwhile alternative and should be enjoyable as well. I find it really nice to sit with kids and work together on some ICT task: sometimes little 9 or 10 year olds doing a report on Jungle Animals (“dung beetles can eat up to 250 piles of poop a day”!), sometimes early teenagers getting to grips with some programming or what have you. The classes are small – seven or eight seems about average – so with two of us in the room, we’re dealing with just three or four each. Another great advantage is that there’s no language barrier: even the native Sinhalese speakers are clear and fluent (for their age) and the standard of English from the local teachers seems higher than at TIS.
However, my working “week” of three days is over now and I’ve nailed my colours to the mast and am off to Tissamaharama (“Tissa”) tomorrow morning on my way to Yala National Park. The journey will take about 5 hours, not leaving much of the day for anything else other than a bit of sight-seeing in Tissa. I’ve even booked a couple of nights in “Lake View Cottage” – I don’t think Wordsworth ever visited – on the outskirts of Tissa. From there I should be able to book a full day tour of the Park. The Guide suggests starting the trip at 5:30am to get the best of the early hours’ viewing opportunities. I’m often awake by then anyway as the bread vans are on the go.
I mustn’t forget that I’ve got my conversation class with Venushka and Sulakshi at 6:30 this evening. Goodness know what we’ll converse about!