I finished my last post (written almost 2 years ago) by explaining the meaning of “gihin ennan,” literally translated as, “I will go and come,” and used as the Sinhala expression for good bye. When I left Sri Lanka after spending four months here with the ISLE Program, I longed to come back, a dream that at first seemed impossible in the short term, then slowly began to feel attainable as I put together my Fulbright application last fall, and ultimately became a reality after I heard last spring that I had received a student research Fulbright to model land use in the Sri Lankan hills and study the environmental impacts of upcountry agriculture on the country’s water resources. I spent the following six months going back and forth between excitement and nervousness as I finalized my travel plans.
I arrived here early Sunday morning after a long journey with two other Fulbrighters, Alex, who was here with me in 2011, and Hunter. I’m staying in Colombo for one month, taking language classes with some of the other Fulbrighters and preparing for my research. We took a trip to Kandy earlier in the week, where I got to visit my host family and the ISLE Center and was reminded of how much I loved being in this country. Now that I’m back in Colombo, I’m anxious to return to Kandy, where it is noticeably cooler, I am familiar with the city, and there are people I want to visit.
Now that our orientation is over, I'm starting to make plans for my research. I’ve realized that, given my experience and language skills and the challenges of traveling in this country, the project I designed last fall will be nearly impossible. I have yet to figure out exactly what I will be doing, but I’m reaching out to my contacts here and hope that soon I will at least know how to start my research. In the meantime, I will continue to read and think about sustainable agriculture in Sri Lanka as I recover from my jetlag and culture shock.