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General Teaching Projects in Sri Lanka by Rosanne van Herksen

With the children

Since the beginning of September I, Rosanne van Herksen from The Netherlands, have been teaching drama whilst volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka. I'm teaching two different classes, both classes contain children of different ages (from 4-24 years!). In Panadura I am teaching at the government Siri Seevali school, from grade three to seven. We had a bit of a difficult start as I explored the lack of creativity, together with shy and scared children. But everything got better when we got to know each other and when we could start practicing the Ugly Duckling!

Bird costumes!On stageOne of my classes

The children were all happy and proud of their parts and we found a good way of practicing. Since many of the children can't speak English (apart from: My name is..!) there was the need there to do everything with them, instead of explaining what I wanted. First I took them by the hand, showed them what to do, then we did it together and then they could do it themselves! Together with clapping hands, shouting how great they were, some children even exaggerated or did extra things.

Especially with costumes it looked awesome! And I'm still very proud of the four little ducklings in their yellow dresses (and a t-shirt for our one boy!), the dancing swans and the (finally) noisy wild ducks! The best thing was to see a smile on their faces and the children were really enjoying themselves. My heart broke when a girl said to a boy, who was trying his bird t-shirt on: Chamil, you beautiful!

The Garden School is an after school for children living in Molligoda. These children come to school when there are volunteers and are very, very motivated! We're rehearsing the story of Heidi, the Swiss Girl, which was an idea of one of the children. It is a bit random as a Dutch girl to teach Sri Lankan children in English how to yodel, but we have a lot of fun! Here we have the same language barrier, but there are two girls whose English is great so they translate it from time to time. Although they have sometimes no idea what they're saying, all the children have learnt the script by heart! Sometimes other children translated their sentences into Sinhala, and together with the movements I added it was all clear what they meant to say!

Sewing the costumes

Projects Abroad gave me a budget to buy costumes and some props. I've been shopping for t-shirts, skirts and dresses. Together with other volunteers we started to sew feathers on the t-shirts for the swans, bird and ducks. Every child had something to wear. Although we aren't all seamstresses, the children looked cute and they were absolutely happy!

On 6th December 2006 the Siri Seevali school held an English Day. The Garden School children all took a day off school and came to the Siri Seevali school. There we had a programme of songs, dances and the two plays. I was touched by the nerves of the children, and their great performances! They did a really good job, and apart from a tree that fell down, everything was how we practiced!

The play on English Day

Since the English Day I'm still doing drama with the children. Even on a day trip to a turtle farm the children wanted to do Heidi! I could never have dreamt what a great experience it would have been to do this with the children. I will never forget their smiling faces, their pride in their costumes and their faces full of nerves.!


Rosanne van Herksen

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