May is the month when the Creative Writing cup is presented at the school where I worked as a volunteer teacher. I created the Creative Writing competition with associated book prizes, before leaving the school. Every year I get to read the entries and they never cease to amaze me.
They are written in English which is their second language. In the school of 2000 girls, English lessons start at age 4. If the girls don’t speak English well it is difficult for them to get a job or to marry. As an English person I was lucky to be valued by the school.
My day could be spent reading stories and singing with 4 year olds, teaching ‘A’ level English literature, or anything in between. My favourite times were spent supporting the multi-talented teachers as they worked to produce their concerts.
Now I look forward to reading this year’s writing competition entries. For the first three years, many entries featured the tsunami, an experience deeply etched in the minds of those who experienced it, especially some of the orphaned children who attend the school.
What was obvious was the discipline behind their thinking and their family structures. You can’t afford to make social mistakes, it can cost you and your family their future. In large classes, learning by rote has been the main teaching method.
On my last visit, I was teaching teachers to encourage creativity with language skills, and we discussed the pros and cons of this freedom.
We return to Sri Lanka in September where I will be working again and visiting my many friends there. I will also be taking the opportunity to push ahead with my second book ‘The Trinket Wife’. In the next few weeks, Marriage, A Journey and A Dog will be available again as an ebook and as a paperback. I didn’t realise publishing can take so long and be such hard work.