Teach children in a village a 10 minute drive from Wasgamuwa National Park. The teaching schedule, at present, takes place at three locations: one of the two local schools in the morning and the temple class in the afternoon. There are roughly 125 students spread across four different classes each week that you will teach. You'll have your weekends free for travelling and sightseeing. Your students will be an eclectic collection - from school children to monks and park wardens!

Go back to basics in a stunningly beautiful location, helping local people and the local wildlife. You'll do extremely worthwhile and rewarding work, making a real difference in a very special rural community. The locals say the incredible scenery and wildlife is the most beautiful place in Sri Lanka! The surrounding jungles and villages can be explored easily by foot or bike.

Internships/Work Experience: This placement is also suitable for anyone needing Work Experience or an Internship to satisfy their college, university or career requirements. You'll learn how the education system runs in a different country and your communication skills, important in all walks of life, will get a huge boost!


Hi, I'm Karen, Project Coordinator for Sri Lanka, and I'll be working with you to arrange your ultimate experience here, so if you've any questions, please contact me:
+44 (0)1903 502595,
or email: info@travellers
Price: £845 (approx. US$1,080) for 2 weeks
£150 (US$190) for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & prices in other currencies
Duration: From 2 weeks to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates: All year round – Programmes start every Monday. You should arrive in Sri Lanka on the Sunday before your chosen start date.
Requirements: Minimum age 17. No qualifications needed, just a big heart and a desire to help underprivileged children who have very little.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Daily transport to and from your Project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, accommodation in Colombo on Sunday night (your day of arrival) and Saturday night (on departure), Return transfer to airport.
Who is this
Programme suitable for?
SOLO travellers or travelling with friends.
FAMILIES with children from 5 years old upwards
GROUPS (large and small)
GAP YEAR BREAKS from School or University.
GROWN-UP GAPPERS, career breakers and retired.
ANYONE interested in working with children, the Arts, teaching, or in community help.
Also suitable as a summer placement or short break.
Open to all nationalities.


  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping disadvantaged children and knowing that you made a difference to them.
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!


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Volunteer Claire Gethin taking a class through some exercises
Volunteer Claire Gethin taking a class through some exercises.


Teach English to local people of all ages in village schools which are very basic and lacking in facilities. As this is a very poor area there is no electricity, so you should be flexible and adaptable with your teaching, much of which will be very hands-on.

The teaching schedule, at present, takes place at three locations: one of the two local schools in the morning and the temple class in the afternoon. You will probably teach from 9-11am and again at 3:00-5:30pm in the afternoons; it is about a 6 hour day. Sometimes the more able students – those in their early 20’s – will come to the house after dinner in the evening to learn more in a more informal setting. Some of your lessons can also take place outside!

There are roughly 125 students spread across four different classes each week that you will teach. You will have your weekends free for travelling and sightseeing.

Teaching in Wasgamuwa is varied with ages ranging from about 8 - 40. Your students will be an eclectic collection - from school children to monks and park wardens! The plan is to keep increasing radically outward, so that more villagers will benefit from your presence. One of the institutes where you will teach is for extra curricular learning, held in the afternoons by our volunteers, and therefore all of the students who attend this class are there because they have chosen to be. Everyone sometimes meets together on Friday afternoons, for a loud, hectic and very enjoyable get together!

Sri Lankans are very shy and don’t want to make any mistakes. At first they may be reluctant to answer in English but they do gain confidence very quickly. They are very keen to grasp English and this enthusiasm makes teaching progress at a fast rate.

Your students will always come prepared with their own writing books and pens; these are cherished as they are in such short supply. There is a blackboard at the front of the class and somehow chalk is always found (although if you do have any space in your luggage, a pack of chalk is highly appreciated!). The enthusiasm and pure delight of the children more than makes up for the lack of equipment.

The English lessons usually include a heavy environmental component. For example, you'll take your students on field trips to watch birds, and you may even be asked to teach the basics of bird identification, ecology, behaviour and conservation within the context of each English lesson. This way you can include other natural history subjects such butterflies, reptiles, plants and flowers, natural history in general and anything about elephants!

If volunteers have additional skills in an environmental filed (biology, ecology etc) then they will have the opportunity to make the most of these. You'll be accompanied by a translator/guide, which will help in your initial communication with your students.

You'll be working with a local NGO who are particularly involved with conservation in the area. The aim of this segment of their overall project is to improve the villagers' education so that they can find rewarding employment in the future. This will include work on environmental projects as well as eco-tourism. These sustainable economic incentives will help to stop the consumptive use of these forests by villagers.


The school holidays for this project are given in April, August and December and vary between the different schools. However, you will still have classes to teach in these months as the need to learn English is not only in the schools - there are many young adults and recent school leavers who are keen to learn it as well.

We organize these classes separately to the school program and they take place in the hall at the village temple. These classes are ery much enjoyed and hugely appreciated, so your efforts ere will be very worthwhile!

These classes are just walking distance from the accommodation, thus very convenient for you.

The project starts on the first and third Monday of each month throughout the year. You should arrive at Colombo Airport on the Sunday before your chosen start date. You'll be picked up at the airport and taken to your accommodation for the night. Please note your accommodation for this night is not included in the project cost and you will have to arrange this yourself (we can assist you with this). The following morning you'll be picked up by the Wasgamuwa team bright and early (around 6am) and taken to your project.

For your first night in Colombo, the project recommends the Hotel Shalimar, a 3 star hotel with reasonable pricing roughly 20 km from Colombo International Airport It offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, 24-hour front desk, a restaurant and bar. If you wish to find your own accommodation, please note you will have to make your own way to the Fort Railway Station in Colombo by a 6 am on the Monday.

Return transfers from Wasgamuwa to Colombo are arranged on Saturdays. We advise spending the night in Colombo then flying out on Sunday or continue on with your travels.

Please bear in mind that this project is suitable for those people who enjoy reading and solitude as there is nothing to do in the evenings except socialise with the other volunteers! BUT, if you want to gain an excellent cultural experience that is worthwhile and gives you much, much more than you'd get as a mere tourist, then this is an excellent placement.

Transport will be in the form of a jeep, bicycle or by foot. Getting around means that bicycles are essential as the main form of transport. Buses run from the region to Kandy, Dambulla and Colombo – taking approximately 5 to 9 hours. Buses run more frequently to Hettipola, which is the nearest town, located about 45 minutes away from the site. There are two 3-star hotels about 10-15 minutes bike ride away, one serving excellent Chinese food and the other having a nice pool and bar for some very welcome chilled drinks after a hot day's work!

Volunteer taking a teaching class outside
A Volunteer taking a teaching class outside in the fresh air - the beautiful weather in Sri Lanka is very conducive to open-air classes!
Volunteer walking with his teaching class outside
This volunteer is taking his class on walk and using the opportunity to teach them using nature as the subject!
Volunteer teaching a class in the classroom
Back in the classroom. Note the very open wall to allow the cooling breezes to waft through.
Volunteer teaching younger students
A class for the younger children from the local village.
Volunteer coaching cricket
A volunteer coaching cricket - young and old Sri Lankans all love sport, especially cricket!


You'll live in a remote village called Pussellayaya on the outskirts of the National Park, located around 7 hours east of Colombo. The community is mostly dependant on paddy farming for its livelihood and as such the way of life here is very simple - you'll need to be prepared to 'get back to basics' and to live like the villagers.

"The open floor plan allows for air to flow freely throughout the house, and it made me feel like we were a part of nature."

The Wasgamuwa house is very basic. The makeup of the house is the first thing you notice. You really do feel like you are in the wilderness! The house is very open to the outdoors, but don’t worry - the makeup of the house is perfectly sufficient and the openness keeps the house cool during the hot spells of the day and dry during the storm.

The house has five bedrooms, you may have your own room, but, dependent on the number of volunteers, you're likely to share with at least one other volunteer. There are mosquito nets, a fully functional bathroom with a shower (cold water only), a sink and a Western style toilet. The accommodation has recently been modernised and there is now electricity, fans and Wi-Fi internet!

Wi-Fi / Internet: There is Wi-Fi / Internet available, but you will have to take your own devide (with a wireless card) and you will have to purchase air-time top-up cards, which will give you surfing time.

It's also possible that you may stay in a another field site near to the Wasgamuwa National Park, depending on the number of volunteers on the project and your activities and research - this would usually only be for a limited time.

Your food will be freshly cooked by the house caretaker and his wife. Neither of them speak very much English but a smile goes a long way! They are both lovely and love looking after you! The food is basic but delicious! The food usually consists of vegetarian curries, which are made milder than they would for themselves – but there is still a kick to them!

There is also a shop about 5 minutes away from the field house, where you can stock up on snacks and cold drinks for your sugar fix! There is a fridge in the house, which can be used to store all your food.

View from the Accommodation at the Wasgamuwa Wildlife Park Project
View from the verandah at the accommodation.
Communal lounge area at the Accommodation at the Wasgamuwa Wildlife Park Project
Inside the communal lounge area at the accommodation.
A bedroom at the Accommodation at the Wasgamuwa Wildlife Park Project
One of the bedrooms at the accommodation.


Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

The volunteer program is an integral component of the sustainable initiatives we are implementing in Sri Lanka. There has been a completely new economic development at the local level just based on the volunteer program. You can observe this in the growth and development of so many of the local stakeholders who are directly and indirectly benefiting from the program.

Even for the Wasgamuwa National Park we provide their biggest revenue. Ravi Corea, President and Founder.

The location is amazing, with breathtaking scenery and wildlife set in the remote hinterland of the island, given the accolade – by natives – as the most beautiful part of Sri Lanka. This placement is ideal if you enjoy wildlife and the outdoors - there is plenty to keep you occupied in this beautiful region. The surrounding jungles and villages can be explored easily by foot or bike and trips to other parks in the region can be arranged.

This beautiful and untamed region is full of photo opportunities - outstanding rivers, lakes and wildlife that make for a photographer's paradise. There is no other entertainment, thus you'll enjoy serenity and spending time alone.

The Maduru Oya National Park, which is about an hour away by jeep, is renowned for its Elephant population and Elephant sightings during an organised safari are very common - the amount of wildlife in this area of Sri Lanka is just incredible! This is a remote area with very basic facilities but will give you a true Sri Lankan experience.

This project is run by one of Sri Lanka's top Conservation Societies and is enormously beneficial to the local people and environment. They have won the United Nations Development Programme's prestigious Equator Prize. The Award honours community-based projects that represent outstanding efforts to reduce poverty through conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The teaching project in Wasgamuwa was initiated as a way of reducing the human-elephant conflict in the region. Through community participation the Project aims to resolve this conflict over the coming years. The on-going goal is to increase the level of English amongst villagers.

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

On Your Arrival: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of staff who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

As well as protecting all our volunteers, Travellers Worldwide is committed to all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. Read Travellers' Child Care and Vulnerable Adults Policy.



Please with any questions and include your phone number, if possible, to help us give you the best possible response.

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Volunteer Paul White with elephant in Sri Lanka
Volunteer Paul White taking time out to get up close and personal with an elephant!
Volunteers on the beach, sitting in a palm tree in Sri Lanka
It's not all work - there's lots to do and see, like these volunteers spending some free time on one of Sri Lanka's glorious beaches.


Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Body and Mind: Meditation and Yoga in Sri Lanka

Price: £495 for 1 week
£795 for 2 weeks
includes food and accommodation, transfers.

The Body and Mind week combines Yoga and Meditation with Ayurvedic treatments to work on a fitter, healthier and more positive you. Located in a beautifully set-up spa, Body and Mind Week will help you to gain psychological and physical well being, will help you to understand the basics of Yoga and Meditation and also educate you about the human body. In addition, you'll enjoy the luxury of Ayurvedic treatments which will deal with any physical aches and pains you may be experiencing at the time.

During the program, you will be taught the Surya Namaskar, commonly known as the Sun Salutation. This contains 12 consecutive postures or Asanas. It is essential for students to master this before moving on to the second stage of Yogasana.

Meditation is the art of focusing your mind, restraining your thoughts and looking deep within yourself. Practicing it can give you a better understanding of your purpose in life and of the Divine. It will also provide you with certain physical and mental health benefits.

PROGRAMME SCHEDULE - Monday to Friday:

  • Early Morning Yoga
  • Breakfast
  • Meditation
  • Head massage. These messages will change every day and include foot massage, back massage, front massage and full body massage.
  • Meditation - Walking meditation
  • Lunch and a relaxed afternoon

This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Book Now

An Elephant Experience at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka

Price: £595 for 1 week
includes food and accommodation, plus transfer to and from the Elephant Orphanage.

The Elephant Orphanage is a sanctuary for over 80 retired, abused or orphaned elephants. Visitors from all over the world come to see these magnificent animals. At times, there are also some small babies who have been born into the herd. The daily highlight is the walk from the Orphanage to take the herd down to the river to bathe the elephants. It's amazing to watch an entire herd splashing around and rolling in the river, just a few feet in front of you!

This project is an elephant experience, rather than elephant conservation ... and it is an awesome experience! You'll have about 3 to 4 hours manual work each day and you'll also get to wash and hose down several Elephants. In the late morning or afternoon, you'll usually go down to the river and spend about 3 hours amongst the Elephants. You can watch them relaxing, play with them and sometimes help to bathe them. Your main duties will include:

  • Mucking out the elephant enclosures in the morning (this is hard, muddy work!)
  • Participating in bathing some of the smaller elephants.
  • While the mahouts are bathing the larger elephants, you will be able to relax by the river, chat to the mahouts and watch the elephants play and interact with humans and each other. This is an absolutely beautiful sight and being around these serene animals in such a beautiful setting can have a very calming effect!
  • You'll also have up to two opportunities per week to feed the beautiful baby elephants.
  • There may also be the opportunity to do other things around the orphanage, however this is subject the amount of work available at the orphanage at the time of your project.

Book Now

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.




We cannot BEGIN to tell you how beautiful this paradise island is! Nor how cheap to live and get around. It is almost too good to be true! But it is true.

Towering Pagodas, Hindu temples and ancient fortresses to holy rivers and sacred mountains. The local people are very welcoming and friendly, especially in the rural areas. The tea plantations are a must, the lace making, monuments and architectural splendours, etc., but the most appealing is the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. Not to be missed! It's an emotive sight that you'll never forget!

There is a lot to do and see if you enjoy wildlife and the outdoors. The Maduru Oya National Park is also about an hour away by car. This park is renowned for its wild elephant population. The surrounding jungles and villages can be explored easily by foot or bike. Sri Lanka’s longest river is about 20 minutes away and tubing (travelling a few kilometres down the river in an inner-tube) is safe and great fun - except during the rainy season!

Sigiriya, Polannaruwa, Nuwera Eliya, Dambulla and Kalkudah Beach are all about 3-4 hours bus ride away.

To cool off, you can hire a van and go to the Knuckles Range which, at 5,000 feet, is much cooler! It is about 70 minutes away with beautiful areas to hike and plenty of cool streams to bathe in. The temperature drops to a comfortable 20-28 degrees at this altitude. The Field staff at the project will be able to help you plan any trips you want to take. They have a wealth of knowledge on the local area and Sri Lanka in general.

Sri Lanka has miles and miles of amazing beaches. Some of our favourites are:

MIRISSA: Perhaps a contender for the most beautiful beach in the world. Long, deserted and hot. You know you have got away from it all as you sit and watch the sunset over this horizon…The snorkelling is also incredible here.

NEGOMBO: To the north of Colombo lies Negombo, a busting fishing town with golden beaches and a pallet of colour provided by sails and boats against the deep blue of the ocean.

UNAWATUNA: A sleepy peaceful cove with deep still water and a temple overlooking the bay from the protecting cliffs.

HIKKADUWA: A long stretch of beach with plenty of hostels, restaurants and some nice bars, not forgetting the impromptu beach parties held on the beach front bars blaring Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Led Zeplin and many other classics! Sri Lanka is a conservative island brimming with culture and Hikkaduwa offers an exciting opportunity to holiday for the odd celebratory weekend! Many a volunteer birthday has been seen in over Hikkaduwa cocktails. You can also body board and even surf on this beach.

ARUGAM BAY: This tiny fishing village is Sri Lanka’s newest hot spot and hosts the best surfing and an easy going happy party atmosphere. With its wide sweeping beach in front of the village and year round gorgeous swimming it is no surprise that this bay has developed into a low budget travellers haunt.

White Water Rafting:
Sri Lanka’s boulder stream rivers are the ideal setting for white water rafting. This is the best way to see the stunning environment what this region has to offer. Many tours are available and many begin with days of action, rafting the white waters. This high adventure is suitable for fish time ‘go for it’ rafters and experts alike. Rafting has become a very popular exciting yet safe adventure sport option.

Rock Climbing and Mountaineering:
Mountaineering is an adventure sport that requires skills and levels of fitness that few other adventure sports can match. The mountain ranges in Sri Lanka offer breath taking, enthralling, climbing routes. Climbing is all about discovering the natural world around and with you.

Hiking and Trekking:
There’s no better way to explore the natural scenic beauty of this island with diverse climatic zones. Trekking is an excellent way to explore a country, people, their traditions and beliefs. Paths and campsites have been set up to give nature lovers the experience of a lifetime. All possible steps are taken to ensure local community benefit and nature conservation in keeping with all international camping guidelines.

Canoeing & Kayaking:
This relatively new sport is rated as the most adventurous of all adventure sports. It involves descending a stream as it drops over waterfalls and boulders. In Sri Lanka they have low waterfalls for beginners and some as high as 700 feet for the very experienced - all surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

The driest and best seasons are from December to March on the west and south coasts and in the hill country, and from May to September on the east coast. December to March is also the time when most foreign tourists come, the majority of them escaping the European winter.

The coastal stretch south of Colombo offers palm-lined sandy expanses as far as the eye can see. The Kandyan dances, a procession of elephants or the masked devil dances. Then there are the ruins, ancient and inspiring architecture in the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa to satisfy any archaeologist.


Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

King coconuts being sold from a stand in Sri Lanka
King coconuts are for sale everywhere in Sri Lanka. They're supposed to quench all thirst. Hmmm. I prefer their pineapples. The best in the world. Seriously!
Tuk tuks are the main form of quick and easy public transport when you're dashing around the local areas. They're lots of fun!
Volunteers taking in the views in Sri Lanka
Volunteers taking in an incredible view in peaceful serenity. Wish I was there :-)

Press Report on the Wasgamuwa Project in the Sunday Observer

English with a smile - In a unique teaching exercise the use of a parachute allows the children of Gamboraya village to "learn how to be cooperative instead of competitive, as there are no winners or losers.

Being able to speak and understand English is the key to employment or business opportunities in the urban commercial sector. But in Sri Lanka's archaic learning-by-rote system, learning is not usually associated with fun and enjoyment.So when one sees giggling children running around a multi-coloured parachute as part of their English lesson, it is certainly worth investigating.

With the southern boundary of Wasgamuwa national park just behind them, a kilometre away, and with the peaks of the Knuckles mountain range, north of Kandy in sight, the children of Gamboraya village have for the last eight weeks been learning English the fun way, with two retired teachers hailing from the county of Hertfordshire, England.

Carole Bennett and Roberta Bird were here on a self-financing voluntary project organised by of the UK, which was facilitated by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society's (SLWCS - Saving Elephants by Helping People programme.

The connection between helping to conserve elephants and teaching English is understandably not obviously apparent. Gamboraya, like the other villages in this area, is a relatively new farming settlement, established in the last few decades, and consequently part of the human-elephant conflict zone, with the associated crop destruction and occasional tragic human deaths.

The main focus of SLWCS's work here is to maintain and continue expansion of solar-powered electric fences around threatened villages, whilst also researching wild elephant numbers and roaming patterns outside of Wasgamuwa national park nearby.

Facilitating the learning of English, argued SLWCS Project Director Chandeep Corea, gives farmers' children the option of seeking a livelihood other than through farming, thus eventually reducing the demand for cultivated land in this human-elephant conflict zone.

Though Ms. Bennett and Ms. Bird were not English teachers as such, at this level, when even native English speaking A-level school leavers are placed on voluntary teaching projects in many villages throughout most of Sri Lanka, they have brought a wealth of experience, particularly Ms. Bennett, who was involved in teacher training in the UK. And the use of a parachute, said Ms. Bennett, has been employed for some time in the UK, progressing from a single-colour military parachute to a specifically designed multi-coloured one, as it gained in popularity as an innovative method for teaching, at the basic level to young children.

Here in Gamboraya, the parachute was used in the under-12 class. It begins with the distribution of different coloured ribbons corresponding to some of the colours on the parachute. With Ms. Bennett and Ms. Bird at the helm, the children respond to instructions, which apply to one set of children at a time, depending on the colours of the ribbons given to them.

The actions asked and conducted by the children can range from running around the parachute, to running back and forth under it in the fastest possible time, sometimes after picking up a hat. At the end of the session, which included keeping a red ball in the air with the parachute, they all huddled together for a few seconds under it, in quick response to an instruction. And afterwards the children continue to linger, having enjoyed this once weekly novel teaching experience, as the other afternoon classes during the week are conducted in the classroom.

These two foreign volunteer teachers were assisted by local youth employed by SLWCS as field scouts, who in the morning conduct research into wild elephant roaming patterns a few kilometres away. Watching the young children of Gamboraya laughing and enjoying themselves, through this English lesson, on an overcast day recently, left me wondering if this was playtime or an actual lesson.

But there is serious side to this fun. As Ms Bennett explained, the use of the parachute allows the children to "learn how to be cooperative instead of competitive, as there are no winners or losers". In this case, it is achieved when children with one set of coloured ribbons have to cooperate, to complete the tasks.

The different coloured teams are created only to manage numbers, as they do not compete against each other. The other point, apart from encouraging cooperation instead of competition, is the obvious one, as "it is fun way to learn, using colours and numbers as well as enabling the children to understand and follow instructions", said Ms. Bennett. In the next class for the older children, Ms. Bennett and Ms. Bird also used role-play.

This for example, meant one of them holding their stomach and acting out being in pain, while the other went around the class with a card on which was written the words stomach ache. The children clearly enjoyed watching their teachers act out different words. Another method used in the classroom was interactive learning, and as it implies, an actively participatory way to learn English.

Whilst Ms. Bennett and Ms. Bird have finished their time here in Sri Lanka, and will very shortly be returning to their respective families in England, they leave behind with the children of Gamboraya, an eagerness to continue learning English, and hopefully, said Ms. Bennett, with other volunteer teachers from Travellers Worldwide.

On the question on what they had achieved in their eight weeks of teaching, both said that they had succeeded in giving the children confidence to speak in English, which they had already learnt at school, but were previously reluctant to use.

Perhaps there are lessons here in the teaching methods used by these retired teachers for the school teaching profession in general in Sri Lanka, that the Education Department should consider incorporating, as, a cooperative, fun and interactive way to learn could be achieved, with or without a parachute.

Teaching Village Children in Wasgamuwa

I arrived at Colombo airport and Harsha was waiting to meet me. The heat hit me straight away and I knew that I would not need the jeans and jumper that I was wearing!

The journey down to Wasgamuwa took us through a number of small towns with shops at the front of the houses. The roads are fairly bumpy but we were too busy looking at all the new sights to notice too much. We were coming up to the turning leading towards our house and we had to go through the electric safety fence (to keep elephants out of the village).

We then started to go up this really bumpy mud track and came to the top of a hill and were told that this was the house. It was very dark and about 1:00am in the morning! We walked down a small track and saw what looked like a mud hut, our house!

When we woke up in the morning you could see the whole view around the house - it was impressive looking over the lake and seeing the mountains in the distance. After a short time we became very accustomed to the house and really enjoyed the different surroundings.

In the National Park we managed to see a herd of about 100 elephants that were pretty close to the vehicle - a great experience! We also had the opportunity to visit the local safety fence and the tree house that the conservation unit uses. All of the local villagers were very happy to meet us and always smiled and waved. At times it can seem a little intimidating because everyone stops to stare at you and call their friends over to have a look, but a wave and a smile back is normally well accepted.

The teaching can be hard work but was very rewarding. It can take a lot of repetition for the children to fully take in information, but you can see that they are keen to learn and will keep trying. The abilities range from some children who have no experience of English at all to some of the children in the higher grades who were very competent. We had two very helpful male field scouts who would attend classes with us to help explain tasks to the children and translate some information for them in their own language.

The nearest town to the project house is Hettipola and this can take about 40 minutes in one of the local buses, but don’t expect the buses to run on time they seem to just turn up when they feel like it. The town will have most things that you will want at very cheap prices. The cold drink at some of the local stores was always appreciated.

The evenings are very dark from around 7:30pm. You will have time to read a book, play cards or one of the games in the house. You will also have the opportunity to relax and just listen to the sounds around you.

Overall this was an excellent experience that I will always remember. The children were amazing and great to work with and the location of the house really helped us become involved with the whole village. Also seeing and speaking to the locals was an important part of the whole experience. Most of the locals don't speak English so be prepared to be very patient and have good sign language. The Sinhala phrase book can be very helpful to pick up some of the simple phrases. The Sri Lanka Lonely Planet book is also very helpful if you are travelling around Sri Lanka.

Teaching Village Children in Wasgamuwa

Well!! We couldn’t have asked for a more eventful stay!!! Where on earth do we start?! The whole trip has been so much more than we could have hoped for; from the amazing house to the crazy experiences! Its all been a dream come true! The wildlife is a joy to behold, a surprise around every corner! We scoop frogs out of the sink every morning, check for Cobra around corners, step over the house dogs to reach breakfast, dodge tortoises on the way to school, share a swim in the lake with water buffalo and of course there are the elephants!! But I’ll get to them a little later!

The kids are a handful to say the least! Very energetic and boisterous, but above all eager to learn, like absolutely no children we know back home!! This makes every lesson rewarding, even if it can also be quite trying at times! We’ve taught classes with a massive range of ability ~ it can be quite frustrating teaching one child to spell CAT over and over, while another is ready to learn grammar! We had to re-learn all our nouns and adjectives etc! In retrospect we loved every class, although we have to admit we often dreaded teaching Grade 1 who can’t even write in Sinhala yet, let alone in English!!

The weekends are always fun! You soon learn that a five hour bus ride is the norm, 2 hours is nothing!! Kandy is beautiful, a welcome break into near-civilization with internet and cold drinks!! Oh the novelty!! Go to “The Pub” on a Friday night especially if the cricket is on, its brill! The Koffeepot next door has the best internet and heavenly fruit juices!! Adams Peak is a must!! Do not be put off!! It is a big slog, bloody freezing at the top and leaves you limping for a week, but it’s all worth it!!

The views are amazing!! Climb at night for the most perfect sunset and a good run down in the dawn! Nuwara Eliya is a stunning English-style town in the middle of the hill country. Make sure you visit a tea factory and you get to wear a sexy green uniform complete with hat – so exciting!!

The cultural triangle is a must – Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Sigirya. Sigiriya has fantastic views and Dambulla has extremely impressive caves filled with beautiful statues of the Buddha. White water rafting at Kitulgula, all over body massage in Kandy (next to Hotel Suisse), shopping (Majestic City and Odels) and even clubbing (H2O and Zanziba) in Colombo!!

Willies is a short bike ride away, turn right at the road! The pool is an oasis after a chaotic class but the food is questionable – do not try the mixed veg salad!!! But enjoy an amazing papaya juice and cold sprite!!

The National Park… what can we say? Don’t get too close to the elephants!! Our Manager (Chinthaka!!!) really made us feel like a part of the herd, we watched about ten elephants tucking into grass and looking after their babies. It was amazing, so close… a little too close!! Next thing we knew we were surrounded by aggressive elephant females, growling and inches away from the jeep! We piled into the middle, trunk dodging, the field scouts no help whatsoever (Thushara and Mahesh!!)!! It didn’t take long for the jeep to be perched on two wheels as one elephant head butted the passenger side door and the others moved ominously into attack positions!! Thank god the clutch held out this time!! We managed to speed away after several terrifying minutes, only to be chased by the entire herd in full charge mode! Chinthaka has never driven so fast!! We made it through alive though (just!) and it’ll be a good story to tell to our grandchildren.

Everything has been unforgettable!! We’d recommend this placement to anyone willing to enjoy their world and bike ride a lot! Do not be tempted to spend too much time in the comfy chairs! Get out there!! Talk to the kids (sign language is always good!), jump off bridges into lakes, celebrate the many festivals and generally enjoy Pusselayaya and the surrounding area (esp. willies!). It is possible to completely immerse yourself in the culture of Sri Lanka in this peaceful village, but only if you go for it!!

Teaching Village Children in Wasgamuwa

The couple who look after the house and cook for you are wonderful. Yasariti is a great cook and her husband Siria is very entertaining even though he speaks little/no English. They both made us feel very at home.

The locals from the village where we were staying were extremely friendly and welcoming. The children I taught were fantastic and very keen to learn, which made teaching a pleasure. It would be great if they had a constant supply of English teachers as they showed so much promise.

Safari at Wasgamuwa National Park was fantastic as an absolute must. We encountered so much wildlife and swam in a beautiful river. This was a highlight for both of us and even if you are there to teach, make sure you take a day to do this.

Overall a fantastic project, which gave us the opportunity to meet, teach and work with some amazing people and see wildlife first hand. We also experienced different ways of life, new cultures and religions, not to mention we did all this in such a beautiful country.

Teaching Village Children in Wasgamuwa

Coming to Wasgamuwa ... everybody is extremely friendly and helpful to us. The area here is very rural and the villagers make their own entertainment so there is very little to do once it has got dark. It is unwise to leave the house because of the danger from snakes and elephants. It is ideal for people who are little bit older and would probably not suit GAP year students looking for a party atmosphere.

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of people wanting to learn English, between 100 and 120 in total. Originally we were to teach two hours a day for 5 days but thankfully due to class sizes we extended this to two classes per day 9-11am and 3:30-5:30pm.

The teaching we were soon to find out is quite difficult owing to the fact that that there is such a different range of ability. We have completed several role play situations and everybody was very good at repeating but unfortunately only about 10% understood, so we backtracked and explained every word singularly.

We have excellent interpreters in Jagath, Thushara and the girls who are all very helpful indeed. We were also asked to help the teachers at the school to improve their conversational English and so take 2 classes per week with them. We feel that we have made a fair amount of progress up to now, even though it is only 3 weeks since we started and hope to continue this. At present it is harvest time in the paddy fields so class numbers fluctuate daily, hopefully this will change quite soon as harvest time finishes.

The area is outstanding in natural beauty with excellent examples of flora and fauna every where you look. Time not spent teaching can be doing anything from swimming in the tank, visiting the local town (30 minutes away by bus), cycling or just lazing in the sun with a book. .