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International Experience: Sri Lanka

April 22, 2016

A blog post from SOLES MA in Higher Education Leadership Ambassador, Emily Davis:

“You’ll get what you need.”

I have heard this advice countless times during my years at SOLES, often coming from my wonderful advisor, Cheryl Getz. At first I didn’t know how powerful it was, but let me tell you—this mantra has come to sum up my entire SOLES experience.

In particular, I had no idea what I needed when I went to Sri Lanka for two weeks in January of this year. I almost didn’t go on this trip for financial reasons, and was actually not at all excited to go when I got on the plane. And thank God I did, because that trip has changed my life. This trip is certainly not your typical study abroad or educational trip, and for that I am so thankful.


Instead of visiting museums, you’re hiking over 1,000 stairs to an ancient palace and your jaw drops at the sheer beauty of your surroundings. I didn’t know how much I needed to re-center myself in nature.



Instead of staying in a hotel, you’re staying in a peace center, a hostel, and the location of a future higher education institution; all dedicated towards empowering the Sri Lankan people. I didn’t know how much I needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone.



Instead of hypothesizing about community development, you’re living it and staying in the homes of the community members. You’re a little nervous because communicating without speaking the same language is so hard, but you’re content and joyful because everyone speaks the language of dancing and laughter. I didn’t know how much I needed to let myself be loved by strangers.



Instead of sitting stagnant in a classroom, you’re learning how to lay brick to form walls and digging dirt out of the side of a cliff to lay the foundation of a community center. I didn’t know how much I needed to work with my hands and remember the importance of simplicity.



Instead of studying with classmates, you’re studying with incredible individuals that have become dear, life-long friends. I didn’t know how much I needed to be vulnerable and let other people walk alongside me in my journey.

If I can give you any advice as you’re beginning your SOLES journey it would be this: embrace the things that feel the most uncomfortable. Sometimes, they stay feeling uncomfortable. But sometimes, your life will be transformed when you get what you never knew you needed.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mark Peters permalink
    May 17, 2016 2:20 PM

    What a beautiful reflection, Emily! Thank you.

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