Welcome to SVS School for English, more specifically. It’s the accumulated experience of a packed day for five days a week for three months at a time that defines your short stay with SVS.
People have joined SVS for various reasons, some noble and some to enjoy what Sri Lanka has to offer. But I’d bet my bottom dollar that everyone who has come looks back on their time at SVS with fondness. This includes time spent teaching students who thirst for knowledge and downright worship interactive education, to weekend excursions that range from hungover stay-ins to Pettah Market fish-stalls to picturesque beach breakaways, to crammed but unforgettable travel breaks around this teardrop pearl of the Indian Ocean. Add to that the blockbuster weekends that are the teachers’ scavenger hunt around Colombo and a trip to the Samanala tea estate, and you’d wish you had come sooner.
Lethargic weekends at SVS thread with weeks of exuberant satisfaction. The satisfaction gained from the expected unpredictability that goes with teaching in a foreign country. A term at SVS is only three months long, so you have one group of students for only three months at a time. By results day you’ll wish it was longer. During my first term here teachers talked, after barely four weeks’ teaching, about how they’d come to love their new students. Love.
One of a few notes I received on the last day of term read “We love you, Mr Henning”. And if I received two such love notes of gratitude, the other teachers received ten. Your students will appreciate you so much and the affectionate sentiment comes easily in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, and SVS, is about its people. You might come for the tropical novelty of helping others on a jovial island away from home, but you’ll stay for the people, who end up teaching you far more. You’ll laugh with your Myanmar students at an almost tangible language barrier where every ‘f’ is pronounced ‘p’, you’ll admire the Sinhalese peoples’ benevolence while you ponder Ella’s mystical locals’ emphasis on “choose happiness” for the better part of your train ride home, and you’d certainly marvel at everyone’s palpable stoicism which they bear with sweating enthusiasm.
Welcome to Sri Lanka. You’re gonna have plenty of fun.