For all I know the world could be over right now, and no one will read this final blog post of mine. Or the world could just go on spinning, grinding along as normal. I have this set up to auto post on December 21st at 11:11 UTC.
December 21, 2012 will be marked as the last day of the Mayan calendar and, according to some (though I’m not really sure who), possibly the end of the world. The end of a calendar, and the beginning of a new one somehow is supposed to bring on the apocalypse.
All week the pressing question from my students had been about the end of the world. On Monday morning the first thing one of my students said was, ‘Sir, twenty-one December world end. Tsunami coming. No sir’. All this concern about the end of the world has only been heightened by unrelenting rain since Saturday, and the flash floods that have been brought on. The rain has caused persistent power outages.
My students survived the Tsunami of 2004, which devastated the beachfront communities of South-East Asia. I can only begin to speculate about the scale of devastation and loss that my students lived through. My eldest students would have been 15, while my youngest would have been around seven or eight. Many of my students’ families subsist off of the sea, fathers employed as fishermen. I can’t imagine how many lost family members and friends; last week I had my students write pen pal letters, and I was surprised how many students had lost fathers – I guess I shouldn’t have been.
It was quite coincidental that I had planned on teaching emotions this week, and the word afraid was frequently used to describe the attitude of my students towards the end of the week – and possibly the end of the world.
My colleagues at Sarvodaya had a much different approach to the entire situation. The viewpoint of one of my female coworkers was especially poignant. She expressed some concern over the possibility of the end of the world, but then shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘if the world is ending there isn’t much I can do.’
Sri Lankans tend to go with the flow, and I haven’t seen people get really upset over anything. Its not that they don’t care, its just that people here take time to enjoy the little things life has to offer. The heavy rains this week have led to many hours with no power; on Tuesday night in particular I was trying to use the internet and was frustrated by the sporadic connection. I got fed up with it and started walking back to my room, in the dark. Along the way I saw a few of the employees here sitting, sipping tea, and enjoying the sound of rainfall. For them the power cut wasn’t ideal – but there was nothing to be done about it – so why not enjoy it.
It is a much different attitude than we have in America, and I still haven’t gotten to used to it. But I like it.