It was quite a coincidence that the 70th anniversary of the British council’s presence in Sri Lanka has coincided with my own thirtieth anniversary – not quite there but nearly. I was delighted when asked to give my thoughts about those 30 years spent at the Colombo centre.
I turned a corner and there before me was a magnificent coastline with not a single person on the beach – it was all mine for the next few days. And that, I think, was where my love affair with Sri Lanka began.
I remember my arrival well. I’d been at the British Council Teaching Centre in Saudi Arabia for 5 years and my departure date, along with my three cats, was 4th July 1989 – unfortunately, turbulent times for Sri Lanka. Travelling with pets is extremely stressful and by the time it came to leave, I felt that the staff at the city office of the then Air Lanka had become close friends, so often was I at their office!
“Why Sri Lanka?” I hear you ask, especially during that period. Well, my first interest in visiting the island was way back in 1983. Everyone knows about the infamous 1983 riots so it came as no surprise when the tour company notified me of the cancellation. It was not until 1987 that Sri Lanka popped up on my travel plans once again. Tourism had been hit badly (and I mean ‘badly’). I remember going to Unawatuna for the first time. I turned a corner and there before me was a magnificent coastline with not a single person on the beach – it was all mine for the next few days. And that, I think, was where my love affair with Sri Lanka began.
“And why so long here?” I hear you ask again! Apart from the splendours, Sri Lanka has to offer quite a lot more to its visitors. The best thing for me is the job! Our students must be the very, very best in the whole world – motivated, well-behaved and so very grateful for the help we give them to attain their goals. Another great thing about the British Council in Sri Lanka is the possibility to get involved in some many different things – teacher training, examinations, being part of key decisions for the future, the list is endless.
If you see me at the British Council say ‘hello’ and I can probably tell you a lot more!