Starting to learn about Sri Lanka

To learn more about Sri Lanka, we have been reading “The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka” by Gavin Thomas. It is a pretty good read. Mr. Thomas writes in an erudite manner, lots of clauses, subclauses, and parenthetic remarks. It can be witty in a dry way. It is a bit of a guilty pleasure, kind of like reading movie reviews. The review of a bad movie is often entertainingly cutting, but I sometimes cringe for those who worked so hard to make the movie. As an example, in the Rough Guide, a historic church is described as “…a memorably ugly Romanesque basilica-style structure whose stumpy steeple provides one of the area’s most distinctive landmarks. The church was begun in 1868 on the site of a previous courthouse – the town’s gallows might (as a sign outside gruesomely points out) have stood on the site of the current high altar; otherwise, the bare, mildewed interior gives disappointingly little insight into the history of the British in Galle.”

I’ve also been scanning on-line newspapers from Sri Lanka. I found a collection at The newspapers I’ve read tend to have a particular point of view. There is sometimes a pretense at objectivity, but each seems to represent a particular group. So The Daily News represents the views of the Sri Lankan government. TamilNet represents the Tamil rebel point of view. I haven’t quite identified the viewpoint of The Island but I am guessing that of a moderate Sinhalese community. (Of course this is how newspapers in the US began…and seem to be returning to.) These are the three I scan pretty much every day.




  1. Anna said,

    May 13, 2008 at 2:25 am

    This is GREAT stuff! You don’t have to worry about interest level. I also have a good book set in Sri Lanka I will send to you. It was very interesting and a little strange. Are you also going to look at how culture differences affect how you teach? Are their primary and secondary schools better or worse or just different than ours? I gotta go. Willie’s giving me the big eyes. Love you, Anna

  2. tssullivan said,

    May 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Ooh! My first blog comment! Thanks! :^)

    Actually, part of my research proposal is to study differences in successful teaching techniques in the area of computational science between Kenyon students and UP students. I worry, though, that only having one year’s experience will not be enough time to come to any conclusions. It is one of the reasons I am hoping that we can create a long-term relationship between Kenyon and UP.

    Do Willie’s “big eyes” mean “I need a hug” or “I need to go outside and soon”?

    Love you, too.


  3. Kris said,

    May 13, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Hi all! I think the Rough Guide is written by a Brit–a person whose English has been learned in longer phrases than Americans’. But it is pretty thorough for a pocket size book, even though neither of us will be able to pass a Sri Lanka history test any time soon. The vocabulary is daunting too. I wonder if British English has absorbed more Asian words as a result of its past colonies?

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