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AUS students volunteer in Sri Lanka
A group of student volunteers from American University of Sharjah (AUS) spent their spring break helping the needy in Sri Lanka.
The sixteen students from the AUS Student Council and Community Services program worked with programs that help the elderly and children in Sri Lanka April 1-8, 2016. The volunteers went to the Ahangama Community Project, where they visited with the elderly, as well as whitewashed and painted their rooms.
On the following day, the students visited Satranghana School, which has 68 students under the age of 13. AUS volunteers shared pizza and distributed treats to the kids at the school, after which they painted the classroom walls and made sure that the water pumps that were purchased by the volunteers as a donation for the school were operating well. The children thanked the volunteers with a special performance.
At Aluthwatte Village in Digana, the students learned about local ways of life. They visited the Home of Hope, a safe-center for orphans and children in distressed situations, where they learned how to create batik, an ancient art form of dyed textiles. Students distributed toys made in the Toy Stories workshop at AUS to the children at the Home of Hope.
"The trip was a really nice and eye-opening experience. I did things I never thought I would be able to do in my life. It feels great being able to help people and put a smile on their faces. I would definitely do this again," said Amal Kamber, a finance senior who was part of the volunteer team.
In addition to the volunteer efforts, the students learned more about the local culture. They visited the Tamarind Gardens and a local factory that employs women to make incense sticks as an alternative to mining, the main occupation in the village. Local fishermen took them on a trip by catamaran to see Victoria Dam, the largest irrigation and hydroelectric power production station in the country. They also learned about how tea leaves are processed to make black, green and white tea during a visit to a tea plantation in Colombo. The visit was followed by an outing to the Millennium Elephant Foundation, where students spent time with elephants and learned about their importance in Sri Lankan culture. Other activities included zip-lining at the Kenali River, and a nature walk in the Makandawa forest reserve, one the oldest rainforest reserves in the country.
"The trip to Sri Lanka was designed to include educational, volunteering and cultural activities for the students. I am glad they are very satisfied with their experiences that will help them get accustomed to other cultures, improve their social skills and augment their perception about contributing to different communities," said Dr. Moza Al Shehhi, Dean of Students.