I write this from a cozy basement in a beautiful house in Warrington, PA. There’s remnants of snow in the big backyard, fresh fruit on the kitchen table, and a lovely Christmas tree still up.
I’m at Jesse’s house, a good friend from school. In a few hours, we are driving to JFK to meet up with 15 or so of our classmates to fly to Sri Lanka. But that’s later.
Yesterday, I fell a little bit in love with the quaint town of Doylestown, home to homemade ice cream, paper shops, Irish pubs and warm cafes, and a lot more. Jesse and I spent probably too much time in an awesome record store called Siren, where I learned about ‘zines and 33’s while Jesse learned he has to spend 130 dollars more until he gets a generous 15 dollars in record store credit. (Mom, you’ll be happy to know I spent a good 15 minutes listening to the Linda Ronstadt album you must have played 1,000 times when we were kids. And Dad, did you know JFK’s inaugural speech is on record? Surprise! — I bought both records for you guys. I’ve decided that when/if you finally make it back to the U.S., my housewarming gift to you will be a record player which I may or may not borrow it from time to time.)
I have really enjoyed experiencing just a tiny slice of a part of America I haven’t been in in quite a while. Hanging out in Union Station, taking Amtrak, marveling at 30th street station and hopping on a Septa train put me so in my element yesterday. There is so much to be said for appreciating and enjoying the “getting” part of “getting to where you’re going,” which is just a convoluted way of saying that the journey is so often the destination. But it’s true — and I’ve learned that the short overnights or pitstops we make along the way are almost always worth writing home about.
I’m reminded of a certain dear, dear friend of mine who came to visit me in Stuttgart right around this time last year. Maggie wanted a bit of Germany before we dove into Ghana, and I’ll never forget her sitting and blogging on my bed in the middle of the night before we left while I packed and repacked. She got 24 hours of my home and city and we both got someone to laugh with as we left snowy Germany for hot Ghana in Chacos and capris. (Which is not unlike today, where I’m planning on traveling to JFK with nothing but a t-shirt and sandals. We’ll see how that goes.) Anyway, Mags, I’ll never forget that blog and that entire departure period and first few hours in country. We’ll miss you so much in Sri Lanka and be thinking about you all the time.
So now, onward! Tonight, Elon’s 2011 Periclean Scholars fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka. We’ll be there for three weeks, traveling and backpacking around the country. We’ll visit turtle hatcheries and a cinnamon island in Galle, see the schools we’ve been helping build and maintain in Panangala, see a tea estate and visit an elephant orphanage. We’re going to some of the top sites in Sri Lanka, including the famous Temple of the Tooth, a holy Buddhist site. The climax of our trip is an endeavor our class has spent months and months working on – LEAF.
LEAF, or the Leaders in Environmental Advocacy Forum, is a two-day summit that will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on January 22-23. Elon’s 2011 Periclean Scholars created and are hosting this conference, in partnership with the University of Colombo, the United States Embassy – Colombo, the National Science Foundation – Sri Lanka, and Rainforest Rescue International. LEAF is about deepening partnerships that have been made between individuals in Sri Lanka and the U.S. while facilitating conversations about the environment and environmental education. We have an awesome speaker’s list set up, and we’re fortunate to have tons of environmental leaders from around the country coming to speak. We’ve gotten some great press coverage and we even have a commercial airing in Sri Lanka over the next few weeks advertising LEAF.
Needless to say, we’re all pumped.
A few of us are going to be in charge of updating a blog we’ve created while we travel around. If you feel so inclined, keep up with us at http://blogs.elon.edu/pericleansabroad2011/
And for more general information about LEAF, check out www.leafsrilanka.org
Here we go!