Life-changing Sri Lankan adventure with Go Abroad
MA Landscape Architecture student Soteris Yerosimou tells us about his life-changing adventure in Sri Lanka as part of a Go Abroad programme.
Volunteering in Sri Lanka last summer was an incredible adventure. I signed up to the marine and wildlife programme through the University’s Go Abroad scheme, which gave me the chance to make an impact and create a better place not only for the turtle hatchery but for the local community. Applying was really easy and the Go Abroad team supported me from my application all the way through my time in Sri Lanka.
The programme involved collaborating with other volunteers and the local people to take care of the turtles by cleaning their tanks, feeding them and administering medication. We also had the chance to release some of the baby turtles into the ocean, which makes me even more proud of our goals as a team. I was also given the chance to attend local schools and hospitals, where we took care of their garden, planted trees, painted the garden walls and created a more liveable space for students and patients.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination, and I'm glad that I had the chance to discover the country from the local people. I had the chance to travel all over the country through the activities that Travelteer organised every week; visiting magnificent Buddhist temples, exotic beaches and picturesque cities. I was excited to discover the culture through the local cuisine and had the best curry of my life! The country is well known for Ceylon tea and coconut cakes. Interacting with the locals was the most valuable part of the trip as it allowed me to learn more about their lifestyle, background and culture.
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I learnt that Sri Lanka is in an economic crisis. It has rampant inflation and struggles to import food, fuel and medicine. People queue for days for fuel, with some of the fuel stations closing for long periods. As a result, the Government imposed a nationwide ten-hour daily power cut due to shortage of hydroelectricity, triggered by the non-availability of fuel. In spite of the crisis, the programme ran smoothly, we had transportation to the hatchery and back home, and we didn’t have any interactions with any strikes. We had daily power cuts during the day but during this time we found ways to be creative and to gather with the team and play games.
What I learned from the experience is to push myself to my full potential and make the most of every opportunity; leaving my comfort zone really benefitted me and I now have some incredible memories for life.
I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience Sri Lanka. I have fond memories of the special people I met and made friends with, alongside the rewarding programme that allowed me to make an impact within a local community.