Illustration Blog

Impressions from Joanna, first volunteer since the end of the pandemic

My volunteer project at Singharaja Garden

After my studies, I was looking for something new and out of the ordinary before I start working. I was also looking for something where I would not be alone, where I could experience something and feel good. With Alli and Edna at the lodge, I found that place. For the volunteers, the motto here is: Everything can, nothing must. Everything as much and as far as you want to do and go yourself.
I was lucky enough to be able to teach English to three new employees of the lodge. I could organise the lessons as I wanted. I was free to choose the times, topics and materials. Since I studied to become a teacher, I was able to try things out. Although there was a language barrier, I got on well with my new students straight away. There was a relaxed teaching atmosphere. It was exciting that not only the students could learn something from me, but also I could learn something from them. It was funny that even in my free time, I was addressed as „teacher“ by the staff in the lodge. Once I was walking and a neighbouring child of the lodge, whom I didn’t know, called out to me, „Hello Teacher!“. It seems to be something very special. At this I was treated very respectfully and warmly. Without me saying anything, the three of them stood up as a matter of course when greeting and saying goodbye. That was new for me at first, but it also showed me their attention. The gratitude for this work became especially clear to me at the end, when my students brought me small gifts before I left. When I asked why and that it was not necessary, I was told that I had given them a much greater gift with this class. I did not expect that. The lessons were a lot of fun in this relaxed atmosphere and I was able to take a lot with me.
Back home, I was of course asked again and again about my stay in Sri Lanka. My first sentence is usually: „It’s a completely different world“. And that is true. The life, the daily routines, the people, the food, the animals and the sounds – everything is different. When I look at the pictures from the trip again today, I get wanderlust!
I loved the close contact with the staff of the lodge and thus with the Sri Lankan locals. You learn so much about the culture and habits of the people. I often took the tuktuk to go shopping. The nearest town, Pitigala, was not a tourist place. That means you just stand out with your fair skin. The people reacted so positively. They greeted you happily and those who spoke English were curious, asked where you were from, where you were staying, what you were doing there and told you themselves what they were doing… I only had positive experiences with people.
There were also some new things to experience at the lodge with Edna and Alli. Whether it was a yoga session, a jungle hike or a kayak tour. It was all a great experience for me and I wouldn’t want to miss these experiences again.
The highlight for me were the animals of the jungle. Since you live in the middle of the rainforest, the sounds are overwhelming. Especially at night they are very intense. Apart from the lodge’s dog and cat, I had no close contact with the animals. Again and again you can see and hear the monkeys in the trees, but they don’t dare to get too close to people. You can also see special bird species just by sitting quietly on the terrace for tea.

It was a great experience for me and I think that this trip was not my last to Sri Lanka :-)