On the 25th of January, the students of OSC set out to explore several diverse corners of the country on their Week Without Walls trip. As one of theses students, I felt extremely lucky to be able to actively discover new things about my country as part of my education.
The Cultural Triangle trip, with its cornucopia of ancient architecture and abundance of rich cultural sites, focuses on the creative aspect of CAS and allowed me to apply my creativity in a whole new way.This was due in large part to our Week Without Walls project. Before embarking on the trip, a lot of planning and forethought was put into the process in weekly meetings at school.At this point, the groups were split into groups of four and briefed on making mini travelogues for each location we would be visiting. To make the project as efficient and educational as possible, we were all assigned the rotating roles of director, narrator, interviewer and videographer and given planning place to lay out the pre-shoot and post shoot.While I was very excited to be working on a movie, I was at first apprehensive about my group as it was a mix of Grade 10s and Grade 11s.As I got to know them over the course of the trip however, I realized that I had made new friends with whom I shared unique experiences.
One of my favorite things about the trip was the number of places we visited in the five days – between Anuradhapura, Ritigala, Polonaruwa and Dambulla, the trip felt more like WEEKS Without Walls. This was especially gratifying for a DP1 student like me, as we were enjoying our last Week Without Walls this year.
As we shuttled from historical city to ancient landmark, everyone appreciated the natural beauty and serenity of the locations. It was well worth it to brave the heat of the scorching sun in order to get a closer look at these natural habitats and indigenous species.In an amusing twist of events, everyone ended up with ablest 20% of their photo gallery containing pictures of the undeniably abundant monkeys that could be seen all over Anuradhapura.
Other than the monkeys, I also enjoyed the natural beauty evident in the places we stayed. My favorite was the resort where we spent the 3rd and 4th nights – a treehouse. It constantly reminded me of the wonder of the nature in the area and offered a beautiful view from the top of the tree.The accommodations also made me closer with the rest of the girls on the trip as we all shared one treehouse; sharing hairbrushes and chasing away spiders for each other made us bond quickly.
During our visits to ancient Buddhist temples and burnt ruins of castles, we made sure to keep a a sharp eye out for good photo video opportunities. As a group we tried to include as much of our learning in our daily video as possible, focusing on the relationship between history and art and its representation of Sri Lankan culture and religion.
Our learning was re-inforced during the evening in group reflection sessions.During these times we discussed the exploration we did in the morning and share our learning and personal insights about the art and architecture. The teachers also encouraged us to focus on reflection questions, such as ‘How has art changed over time?’, in order to answer some of the questions that come up in our interdisciplinary unit. As a native of Sri Lanka, I already had quite a good background knowledge of Sri Lanka and had visited several of the locations seen in the trip previously. Therefore, the little details I discovered during this trip, as well as the new ways of viewing my culture, took me by surprise and really helped me gain a holistic understanding of our culture and traditions.
One thing I had never accounted for in traditional Buddhist architecture was the meticulous planning and logic behind it. In several of the religious sites visited during the trip, monasteries were built with dining pavilions and drainage systems to keep the monks clean and well fed. These features portray the careful forethought put into such buildings and demonstrates between religion, culture and science. These sorts of interdisciplinary units discussed throughout the unit helped me to make connections between certain subjects, as well as with the real world.
Apart from the learning, we also had time to relax and splash about in a refreshing pond near the treehouse. Th water was fresh and soothing after being out in the scorching sun and I loved dipping my toes in. The only thing that stopped me from staying in there too long were the tiny, very friendly fish who liked to nibble on our feet. It was still fun, however, to swim around the pond trying to avoid the fish and laughing at the friend who screamed when one swam nearby.
The Week Without Walls trip this year was an endless source of fun, educational and unique experiences. I loved collaborating and making new friends and strengthening my knowledge of the country. It was also interesting to look at art, history and the sciences outside the classroom and connect it to the local culture. This was definitely an adventure packed trip that I can look back on and recall a new and exciting experience each time.
Here is the video of our second day on the trip, which I directed and edited:
After our Week Without Walls trip, we all gathered in the auditorium to set up displays of everything we had done that week. For the cultural Triangle booth, we displayed four of our best movies and the many pictures we took throughout.
I really liked visiting the other WWW displays and seeing how different, yet equally entertaining, the other trips were. It made me really glad to live in such a diverse and beautiful country and go to a school that encouraged us to explore it.
It was also really fun to look after our display and talk to others about all the really cool things we saw and experienced. The WWW presentation was a great way to finish off my last Week Without Walls trip.