Two incredible months at Peace centre
Sarah Johns Nielsen from Denmark
For approximately two years ago, I was 19 years old and had just finished the danish version of high school. I knew I wanted to take a break from school, and I knew I wanted to explore the world. To do that, I had to earn quite a lot of money, so I got a job and worked for half a year.
Up until my travels to Asia I had only visited western countries, and I felt an urge to explore the eastern side of the globe. I wanted to widen my perspective on the world and the people who lived in it, and it became clear to me, that the best way to do that was to get a close and very concentrated experience with locals. That let me to consider doing voluntary work.
My way to Peace centre in Mutur was through the danish organisation Global contact. I had heard of it from friends, and as I looked through their website, I quickly decided that I wanted to volunteer in Sri Lanka. On their website, they described Sri Lanka as a beautiful country where tourism hadn’t yet taken roots, and to me that sounded like the perfect way to get an authentic and honest view of an – to me – unknown culture.
In February 2019 I sat in a bus from Kandy to Mutur with my two danish travel partners. I was excited and nervous at the same time. It was dark, and we had no idea of what it looked like outside of the bus. The bus stopped at the 3CD Junction and we were greeted by the people of Peace centre. At peace centre, other volunteers from all over the world was already lodged, and I quickly knew, that it was going to be two amazing months. There was a happy and welcoming atmosphere, and it didn’t take long till I felt at home.
Me and my travel partner Signe got to teach together at a small school in the nearby village, Ralkuli. We biked our way there every day except for the weekends. In the beginning it was challenging – neither of us had a lot of experience with teaching, but we both had a lot of motivation. We started out playing lots of learning games with the kids and as the weeks passed, we began to have a good idea of their English level. We went through different subjects, such as family, food, body etc. Looking back, I don’t think we taught the kids a whole lot of English, but what I believe we did was widen their perspective on the world – just like they did for us. It was a very concentrated cultural exchange, just like I had wished. I believe we through our games showed the kids, that learning can be playful and fun. I hope the kids felt the importance of learning English, when they experienced, they could communicate with us. I believe talking with us gave them a feeling of success and motivation to improve their English.
By the end of our stay, we started renovating a room at the peace centre. It was going to house a class for disabled kids, and I was very proud of being a part of that project.
After two months, I left Peace Centre feeling like I had done something meaningful and important for others. None the less did I leave the Peace centre knowing that I could always return. Unlike my rather shallow travels around Europe, I felt like I had developed a small piece of home in that small town of Mutur. I still carry the memories from Peace centre very close to me, and I don’t believe I am exaggerating when I say small glimpses from Sri Lanka daily pop up in my mind. I am forever grateful for all the experience I have gained from my voluntary work in Mutur, and in danger of sounding cheesy, I wouldn’t be the same without. It has definitely changed the way I look at myself and the world.