On Friday, March 15th the Fulbright Commission held a mid-phase review. All of the English Teaching Assistants, Student Researchers, and Senior Scholars gathered together at the Fulbright Commission’s villa offices in Colombo for a day of presentations.
This year there are a total of 15 American Fulbrighters in Sri Lanka, and the conference provided a great opportunity for all the Fulbrighters to get together and see the progress we have made at this point.
Part of the reason why I enjoy the Fulbright so much is that it has brought together such a diverse group of people.
The five ETAs are spread across the island, and teach at institutions ranging from primary schools to universities. Our instituons are: University Of Sri Jayewardenepura (2 ETAs are placed here), the University of Peradeniya, Sujatha Vidyalaya, and I split my time between the Vocational School at Sarvodaya and the Trinco Jesuit Academy.
The Student Researchers, with whom the ETAs have gotten very close, study a wide range of issues: the political economy of the plantations, contingency planning and the ownership of disaster management, gender based violence in Sinhala Cinema, the informal fishing sector in postwar Sri Lanka, the architecture of Geoffrey Bawa, and alternative solid waste management systems.
The Senior Scholars are range from a professional dancer to senior lecturers, their research topics are: the architectural development of Sri Lanka’s forts, transformative dance in Sri Lanka, the climate services of Sri Lanka, and a social science study of village life.
This lecture was the first time that I met two of the Senior Scholars. It was great to get a sense of what they are studying and where their research has taken them thus far. Sri Lanka’s Fulbright program is unique in many ways, one such example is the close relationships between ETAs and Student Researchers. When I attended the ETA conference in Nepal I was surprised to find that many other ETAs did not know the Researchers in their countries. In Sri Lanka, many ETAs live with Researchers. Since we are a smaller program, we get to have many opportunities for interaction. When all of the Fulbrighters converge there is little distinction between the groups.