A village in Sri Lanka

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Story by Shawna S.

One of the best moments of my life was when I traveled by a tiny van filled with people like me who wanted to help a village in Sri Lanka. When the van neared the village, we were first greeted by young girls who adorned us with jasmine leis and village elders who presented us with betel leaves. That was followed by a parade of villagers dressed in beautiful traditional clothing, leading our group with song and dance to a welcome ceremony.

After the welcome ceremony, a moment of awkwardness took over as we were meant to mingle with the locals but very few villagers spoke any English and we didn’t speak any Sinhalese. A friend and I began singing a silly camp song, “The Banana Song” with a group of children. They caught on right away. Other children started joining in. Then a villager who spoke some English approached and said, “Do you want a drum?”. We thought, sure, the Banana Song could use a drum, so he got one and pretty soon the entire village and our entire group were dancing to the beat of one drum. As we laughed and danced together in the Sri Lankan heat, we knew we had broken through the language barrier. We knew we were going to have a fantastic time. We helped the village build three houses and we learned from them how to work together as a community, how to welcome people with open hearts, and how to celebrate with dance. To this day, that village in Sri Lanka is still an inspiration for me.