My job with Habitat for Humanity International ends late May and at nearly the same time Alicia will be starting an internship with Oxfam in Sri Lanka. Last summer she went to Rwanda without me, which was horrible, and stupid, and 10 weeks long. So Alicia and I decided, “What the heck! Let’s pack up our apartment, put it in storage, and both go!” Afterwards, maybe we can get to Hong Kong and see my Dad, brother, sister-in-law, and nephews, maybe I will get a Masters in Positive Psych at Penn, maybe we can get jobs in Sri Lanka, maybe my book will get published, maybe we will sail…who knows.
So, for the past couple of weeks while this decision process has been more realized, I have been learning about Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is personally interesting to me because of three very strong similarities with Taiwan: they are both substantial islands off the coast of emerging superpowers, they both have booming economies (Sri Lanka had Asia’s fastest growing stock exchange in 2009 and 2010), and they both have a bit over 20 million people (Sri Lanka has 21, Taiwan 23).
They have plenty of differences. Taiwan’s mountains are about 50% taller than Sri Lanka’s though Sri Lanka’s landmass is twice as large (12,966ft to 8,200ft and 36,000 to 66,000 square kilometers).
One of the big differences is that instead of tensions with its emerging super-power neighbor, Sri Lanka has struggled with ethnic strife internally for the past 30 years in a conflict which has killed about 90,000 people. The conflict has been between the Tamils in the North and East concentrated around Jaffna and the Singhalese that cover the rest of the island. The tactics which the Tamil Tigers or LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil-Eelam), a political party, has used has led to them becoming officially recognized as a terrorist organization by 32 countries, including the United States, India, Canada, Australia, and the EU nations.
After numerous ceasefires and resuming of the conflict, the war seems to have ended in 2009 when the LTTE admitted defeat after a coordinated strong offensive by the Sri Lankan government. Today, a separate state for the Tamils on Sri Lanka looks unlikely.
I’m so excited to learn more about the conflict and the country! We will be staying in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s biggest city. Alicia will work during the week while I write and plan weekend trips. : ) I will probably spend some time with Habitat Sri Lanka too.
In other news, I have been devouring more lecture series lately:
- “Naval Battles that Changed History,” –There have been surprisingly few very important naval battles but they were nevertheless very very important.
- “Fueling the Planet, the past, present, and future of energy “– Where I was told that carbon emissions are a big problem. He seemed to think that wind power was especially promising.
- “Wars that Made the Western World” — Professor Shutt is always solid. He discussed the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian Wars and the Punic wars, and I learned even more about Alcibiades, likely the best-looking, most conniving, most brilliant man ever.
- And now I’m working through a history of the Papacy and another one on the Crusades.
I’m looking forward to sharing with my readers all this cool stuff I’m learning about and keeping you updated on our trip to Sri Lanka. My posts will likely become more frequent now (1-2 times a week). Thanks for reading!
April 12th, 2012 at 8:02 PM
Dude, this is exciting! I’ll give you a call sometime so we can chat for real, but I think it’s great you guys are thinking about doing this. Of course it’s always easy for an mk to find an excuse to go to a new country, but it sounds like this could be a great opportunity for you guys.
April 14th, 2012 at 3:57 PM
yah! chat for real sounds great.
April 4th, 2012 at 1:41 AM
awesome man! let me know when you get to HK. would love to see you!
April 10th, 2012 at 8:51 PM
March 23rd, 2012 at 5:09 PM
Wow, Jer, what an exciting adventure for you! We will miss you at FitWit. Best of luck to you!!
March 26th, 2012 at 3:19 PM
Thanks Ginger! I will miss fitwit too!
March 20th, 2012 at 8:21 AM
Hey Jer –
I enjoy reading your posts even if I don’t always comment! Wow Sri Lanka!
Your cuz, Abbie
March 26th, 2012 at 3:20 PM
Hey cuz! I’m hoping to go to Penn next year. You still in Philly? It would be great to spend time with the clan.
March 19th, 2012 at 9:58 PM
understanding is absolutely not a requisite for talking!
We want to, maybe if a certain someone wasn’t going to be in the states at that time it would be more likely ; )
March 19th, 2012 at 9:50 PM
Come to Hong Kong!!! (And our neighbors are Sri Lankan. I think refugees. Mom doesn’t speak enough english for me to really converse with her, so I don’t know much. But Josiah talks to the kids from our balcony all the time. Of course they don’t really understand each other, but they talk anyway.)