Well, here's my second chance at this post. I wrote the entire thing and it just got erased.
We just returned from Kandy (the hill country). We've lost 2 of our group to the food, but Daman and I are staying strong. We've eaten some interesting fruits that have thick skins, so they're good for us to eat. And, I've finally eaten like a Sri Lankan, with my HANDS. it's was tough and i kept on cramping up, but it was cool. I can't wait to continue eating.
We were in Kandy for the Perahera (which i will write about seperately because i need to do it justice.
In Kandy, we met with a group of academics at the International Center for Ethnic Studies. We thought we would be having a roundtable discussion, but when we arrived, there was a head table with our names on it for a panel. We spoke about the work we do in the US and then got to speak with the participants, about 20 of them, about the political system in Sri Lanka. It was interesting to learn from experts since i do not have much past experience with it. Two main questions that were asked of us were: How do you get youth involved in the process outside of an election year? How succesful are interfaith/religious dialogues without discussing politics?
To answer the first question, was very difficult because i don't know the micro issues that are in Sri Lanka, but my recommendation was to focus on issues. Get people motivated through issues that directly effect them, but are not broad issues. As for the second, I've always felt fortunate at AJC and think we do a good job of dialogue without discussing politics (at first), so hopefully that helped them as well.
As for the 'Fabulous Jew Moment' that came in the evening, when i realized that the family i was with had never met a Jew before. They told me they thought that Jews ruled the world and were really surprised to hear that we are so few. But really the best part was when i showed them the yarmulke i was travelling with. they LOVED it. I tried to explain about Jewish people as best as I can and they were familiar that a good number of Jewish people have become Buddhists, but overall, they were really interested. Good Times in Kandy.