Jack Bannister - swapping Schoolies for Sri Lanka
author: Lorrie Liston
Class of 2017 Year 12 student Jack Bannister, pictured above, chose to forego Schoolies celebrations to head to Sri Lanka for an incredible trip of a lifetime instead. Here, Jack shares his trip with us and encourages other school leavers to consider a similar amazing overseas experience:
“I first heard about my trip to Sri Lanka at school via the morning notices one day which immediately gained my attention for I had never been out of Australia.
I followed this up with Mr (Anthony) Meehan (College Careers Coordinator) and before I knew it, I was booked on Sri Lankan Airlines ready to get out of Australia, and after a 10 and-a-half hour flight in economy class (so much fun!) I set my feet down in Sri Lanka.
I collected my luggage and met my supervisor, Amir, who had my name on a sign. We got to know each other a bit and we exited the airport only to be introduced to, not just only the busyness of the people, but the rain (and that's putting it lightly, it POURED).
When we got into the car to go to my host family, that’s when I realised, I was in Sri Lanka and driving there is WAY different and way more crazy and wild. There is no real way of explaining it, it’s best if you just google it or search it up on YouTube.
I arrived at the home family to be greeted by Lahl and Chandra who were some of the most lovely people I have met. However, noting that it was very late in the night I decided to go to bed, which was also the first night I slept with a mosquito net covering my bed.
The following day I met up with a lady from Sydney called Diana, who was from a different project but lovely nonetheless, and was accommodated in another room. She loved to call butter “fat spread” (but she's not wrong really). Eventually the two other volunteers in the same project as me finally arrived and they were both from Sydney as well (sadly). They were Lea and Niamh (pronounced Neav) and they were also lovely as well. Further I also met another volunteer from Germany called Vera (but I'll admit the first I thought was John Cleese from Faulty Towers "Don't mention the war!"). Anyhow they are all wonderful people.
We then met up with Amir and were taken out to check out where we will work which was a preschool consisting of one main room, a toilet (where you'd have to squat), a room with a tap in it and an office (I think). We were then taken out in the town to explore it. At lunch we were taken to a place called Mango Mango were we all tried various curries. Others had vegetarian curry, prawn curry and teriyaki chicken but I myself had mutton curry which was grouse.
Later we got home and played a card game called Bullsh*t and Scrabble where I scored 51 points in a single turn (sorry, I'm still really proud of that). Then we went off to bed to get ready for our first day of work the following day.
The next day, we went to work and were instantly surrounded by kids aged from four to five who called us "teacher" and they loved high fives. So we introduced ourselves and got to know a few of them and the teachers themselves and eventually went into teaching the kids about the season.
This basically went on for the week, teaching the seasons, doing the hokey pokey, kids jumping onto us, having the village kids that we walked past pronounce my name "Juck", a bit of rubbish at the host family and acquainting myself in the culture as much as possible.
However I believe it is also important to mention the domesticated animals for within the week, my heart would periodically melt from time to time, as we kept on meeting a puppy, no bigger than my foot. What made this all the more sad is that he had a scab on his/her back and one of its back legs. For a while, I was genuinely seriously thinking about taking the dog back to Australia because from what I could tell, it was a stray dog. I later found out though that the dog is owned by someone in the village which did make me feel happy for the dog, knowing it is loved here (even though I saw some kids pick it up by the tail).
On the weekend we woke up early and set out to the ancient city of Kandy, but along the way we stopped by an elephant orphanage and stayed there for a good two hours or so getting pretty close to some adult and baby elephants. We saw baby elephants being fed milk by hand, people riding elephants and elephants laying in the water with their trunk occasionally rising up for a breath.
When we finally got to Kandy, we did various activities such as (in no particular order), bargaining in the markets, watched an ancient Kandy dance, visiting a wood shop, eating at a couple of buffets, watching Sri Lankan Nickelodeon in my hotel, gawking at monkeys at the hotel, visiting the Temple of the Tooth Relic and an Alice in Wonderland-inspired hotel where I managed to scare the living daylights out of the two other volunteers. We also visited a tea factory and an Sri Lankan art store where we were shown how their art was made and other such things. It was a wonderful time.
Shortly after, I departed Sri Lanka and touched back down at Melbourne airport after a nine-hour trip in economy class (I loved it). Not being sarcastic this time, however I loved Sri Lanka and I would recommend it to anybody for their Schoolies holiday."