From Colombo to Columbus

Tuesday, 24 May 2016
The above photo shows our neighborhood. We lived in Colombo 10 and I once had an editor of a newspaper tell me that he was impressed that I wasn't living "where most Westerners live." I wanted to say, "Where do they live!?" LOL. Our living situation occurred out of two months of me trolling every website that offered short-term renting opportunities in Sri Lanka. One day, I found the apartment that we rented: 4-1 Hedges Court Residences. In the photo, our building is the high rise on the left. It is pretty modern compared to other places in Colombo but the neighborhood lags behind slightly.
We live near Norris Canal (pictured above) which is so funny to me because, when I attended Powell High School in Tennessee, we would go to Norris Lake for skiing, boating, and swimming. You would not want to swim in the canal but I do think this is why we noticed ample urban bird life - there is a water source close by.
Since I haven't mentioned traffic in a while, I just had to take a moment to admire the men and women who ride motorbikes, tuk tuks, trains, buses, all modes of transportation with no fear. I took the above photo of two women riding a motorbike in Jaffna. All over the island of Sri Lanka we see amazing courage by people who risk their lives in chaotic traffic to get to where they need to be. I will say that nearly everyone wears a helmet. What a modern concept (looking at you, USA)!
My most fulfilling contacts in Sri Lanka were Mr. Kumar Lopez (pictured above) and Mr. Sukumar Rockwood, both leaders of the Sri Lanka Press Institute. Both men introduced me to journalists, helped me learn some of the culture of Sri Lanka, and were very modernized in their thinking (they didn't discount me because I am a woman). I will never forget their generosity in helping me, a complete stranger from another land. I vow to do the same for foreigners in the United States needing help with professional contacts. 
Above is one of the groups I talked with at the press institute. This training session (designed, arranged, and presented by me on a volunteer basis) was entitled "Technology and Today's Journalism." Many in the class were younger journalists just getting started in their careers. They are interested in the best ways to use social media when it comes to news and also the integration from print to online reporting.
James and I begin the long journey home today. I have very much enjoyed my time as a Fulbright Scholar and plan to reflect on my experiences and growth in a future blog post. (The above photo shows us in our apartment, dying of heat stroke, but sipping REAL champagne that James found at the airport duty free.) Thank you for reading and for being part of the journey.

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