I have just been thinking how fast the last nine 9 months have gone. They have been filled with challenges, both personal and professional, learning, laughter, excitement, nervousness and more learning. I joined the TLV team in January 2013 in an internship position, after having finished a degree in International Development and Food Policy. Like most young folk I was a little desperate to get some more practical experience in my field of study while the auld feet started to itch and I developed a hunger to travel and live abroad again.

I am in love now. With the school mind you, not a dashing young man (cue violin). TLV is a wonderful place to learn and work. The staff here are full of humour and fun but remain dedicated and passionate about offering opportunities to young people from the local area. Their passion comes from the fact that all of them have similar backgrounds as those they teach and so have an in-depth understanding of why these young people need and deserve a step up the ladder. I have been inspired by some of their lives and their attitudes to life. This would be a good time to list all of the woes the young people here face so I will just say this – alcoholism, poverty, an education system that often fails them and high youth unemployment.

This school does so many different things for youth and children. At times I felt a little confused as to how I could get my greedy little fingers into all of the pies. I have to say that I have been given so much space and support to get involved in so many different ways. These have included teaching Advanced Reading and Speech to the interns of the advanced Diploma (which is great and I say that as a person who is not a teacher), developing monitoring and evaluation systems, strategic planning, helping to develop a Corporate Social Responsibility programme and integrating Youth Advocacy Training into the main Diploma.

I have had varied responsibilities and I think that is why I have loved this job so much. No two days are ever the same. I have found the work enjoyable because it has challenged me and so helped me to learn. Don’t get me wrong. I have also had very frustrating days and days where I felt like I was up you-know-what-creek and had lost my oars. I have learned a lot from the young people who run the school. I will now forever remember (I hope) to make sure I understand the situation first from different perspectives, to ask questions, to interpret the situation and then make a judgement. That seems very obvious but I think people often forget to do that. As the school strives to teach the students principles like integrity, honesty and encouragement, I have found myself keeping myself in check and monitoring whether I am applying these principles in my own work and life. I have found that process interesting.

And yes of course not everything about the position has made me swoon. Working on a staff team in which everyone, including myself, is under 26 has posed challenges. It also results in creativity and energy though. The weather has been similar to that of Ireland (rainy) and so I have made claims of being a Sri Lankan albino. Maskeliya is very quiet, peaceful and beautiful but this can wear thin sometimes. Having said that I am lucky to live in a lovely and spacious house across the road from the school that has great views of a river and tea plantations. It is quiet which is great for those who love to sleep and read books, two categories which I fit into.

All in all, I live in a beautiful country, I have met brilliant and inspiring people, I have laughed a lot, had fun, been challenged from both a personal and professional perspective, and I have learned something new almost everyday. Recommended.

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