CAS as a Quaranteenager

With the shutdown of schools due to COVID-19, things have certainly become interesting. Doing online school to finish another year, not being allowed out of my house, and limited grocery and item shopping has made life weird to say the least. Although, weird is not necessarily bad, and one thing I’ve been able to do with all my time stuck at home is CAS. While yeah, it’s obviously not the same as what I was doing while at school, I’ve found that there are plenty of ways to continue doing creativity, activity, and service. In this post, I’d like to show what I’ve been up to during quarantine.

In terms of creativity, I’ve had a ton of things to do. With all this time and not much to fill it with, I’ve been motivated to learn plenty of new creative skills and develop the ones I have further. Recently, I’ve been helping my mom when it comes to baking things like bread or cooking dinner every now and again. While I’ve always enjoyed certain cooking activities like grilling meats, it was a fun challenge to try and learn the many subtle nuances of making bread. I’ve also been getting a ton of practice in on my euphonium, although I miss concert band a lot. No matter how much I practice, it’s not like I can capture the sound of playing in a good sized band with other people. With any luck, we’ll get to play together one more time this year(for graduation if we’re lucky) and I’ll get to actually have a final concert of high school.

Activity is probably the hardest category to keep going when it comes to quarantine CAS. Luckily, embassy staff and family members have a recreation facility that they are allowed to visit, which has a tennis court and pool. I go to work out there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 6:15. I usually run around the tennis court for about 40-45 minutes before doing a quick swim workout. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty tame workout but it keeps me active which is what’s important. I also do push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups around my house intermittently, but I know I need to make better schedule and plan for doing those. I plan to continue this routine for physical exercise until the quarantine ends, though maybe I’ll switch it up if I get bored of it.

Finally, service. Doing service while under lockdown is a little tricky, since I’m obviously not meeting with my service group every Thursday afternoon. Instead, I focused on doing service for the people I’m living with. That means helping out around the house for cleaning, cooking, or generally whatever. I’ve been trying to look for ways to help my parents and do my part in making curfew less stressful for our family.

That does it in terms of what I’ve been doing recently. Curfew and quarantine is certainly a challenge to deal with, though it really isn’t that bad. Things like CAS have been helpful in preventing me from going crazy out of boredom, and all the activities here are things that are quite enjoyable to do(with the exception of early morning exercise). With the end of senior year drawing nearer, it sure is a weird way to end my final year of high school.

CAS Project Part 2

In my last post, about my CAS/eagle project, I went over all of the planning phase for the project, with what my specific goal was and how I was going to get there. In this post, I’m going to show the physical work aspect of the project and the completion.

And so it began…

I didn’t actually start working on the bags immediately after the materials ordered for them had arrived. They had come on a Monday, and I wanted to get them all done in one massive batch, so I decided to wait until the weekend. On Friday, my mom helped me make a single bag of the pattern to see how it turned out, as well as how to most efficiently make them. I decided that the best course of action was to get through all the steps at a time, instead of making each one to completion and then starting the process again. This was because certain steps, like cutting the fabric into the correct shape and size, were done far more efficiently en masse. Doing each step all at once also increased the quality of the bags, as I would become very good at completing each step as it continued. Having decided on the order of events, we began at around 8 in the morning on Saturday. The goal was to produce about 35 bags by the end of the day, and fill them the next day. This was certainly going to be a challenge for me, as I didn’t really have much experience using a sewing machine or just making things out of fabric in general before this project, so I would have to learn a lot fast.

Speaking of steps, there were 6 distinct steps for making a bag

  1. Cutting the fabric pieces
  2. Making the initial stitches
  3. Making the secondary stitches
  4. Folding and ironing a part of the fabric(so it would be easier to sew)
  5. Sewing the “V” part of the fabric(for the drawstring to pass through)
  6. Cutting the ribbons for the drawstring and pulling them through

Let me just say, I’m very glad I set aside an entire day to make them because wow, it was time consuming. While I originally intended to go through each step on that list 35 times in a row before moving onto the next one, I ended up doing about 3 batches mainly because of how tired I was getting just doing the same thing over and over again. I’d say that each step was equally as time consuming, but I just kept going.

(measuring and cutting the fabric for the bags)

To my surprise however, there were relatively few issues along the way, and they all pertained to the sewing machine I was using. I didn’t think much of them, but it ended up as a major issue later in the day. Tragically, our family’s 50+ year old sewing machine properly broke down on us while I was using it at around bag 25. Luckily, I was able to borrow a sewing machine from some embassy friends but the process of finishing all the bags ended up getting delayed to the following weekend. I’m glad the only real problem I had was that easily solved.

(making the initial stitches)

(Now doing some of the more complex bits on the new machine)

In my last post, I had mentioned that I had placed a donation bin for travel sized toiletries at the embassy community liaison office(CLO). While I had expected that some people would probably donate items, I had no idea that I would get the huge response that I did. While I didn’t count the total amounts of everything people donated, we had more than 35 of every item to fill the bags with. It was really great to have the community support me like this, as without them a project like this wouldn’t have been possible.

With the items needed collected, the filling of the bags began.

(Sorting the items out before putting them into the bags)

(bags lined up and ready to fill)

Around this time, the blankets and pillows arrived from my Great Aunt, and so all the pieces of the project were together. The final step was simply putting them in the boxes and bringing it over to the embassy, which I did on February 5, 2020, marking the completion of my project.

(showing the individual bags to Mr.Groeneveld, the embassy representative who I corresponded and collaborated with throughout the project)


The entire process of this CAS project and Eagle Scout project has been a fantastic experience. I was able to learn so much as well as give back to a community that has always been supportive. Not only have I improved my hands on real world skills like sewing, I’ve mainly improved and learned how to collaborate in a professional manner and plan out a large project and execute said plan effectively. My actual product is quite interesting, in the sense that I hope that there is never a situation that requires it to be used, and I hope that all it has to do is sit on a shelf in the Embassy. I’m very grateful for an opportunity to apply ideas and things I’ve learned from boy scouts into this project, and I think it allowed me to make a lasting positive impact.

An Introduction to Boy Scouts

I’d like to start out by saying that this definitely isn’t a new activity for me. I’ve been participating in BSA(Boy Scouts of America) for the last 7 years of my life, since 5th grade. I’ve never really mentioned it mainly because I just assumed that it wasn’t something that could be counted for CAS, but I was told otherwise, so here it is. Doing Boy Scouts in Sri Lanka presents a unique challenge as there was actually no pre-existing troop here for me to join when I arrived. In years past, I’ve always been a part of a troop some place or another, even in locations like Kenya. However, since there is no troop here, I take part in what is called the “Lone Scout” program. In the LS program, I directly correspond with the nearest council(in my case, Osaka Japan) and send whatever completed work I have there. My mom serves as my scoutmaster, but this doesn’t mean I’m skipping requirements or having the work done for me. If anything, everything I do falls under more scrutiny than the average Boy Scout.

My mom and I have our official scout meetings every Sunday at 11:00am, and I get dressed in my uniform as I would if I were going to a real troop. This is important as makes sure that I’m in the mindset for Boy Scouts, and not just treating at as a regular part of my day. We’ve been doing this since August of 2018, when I moved to Sri Lanka. As mentioned previously, I’ve been doing Boy Scouts for the last 7 years, and am currently a Life Scout. For those unfamiliar with the boy scout ranks, they go as follows(lowest to highest) Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star Scout, Life Scout, and Eagle Scout. Eagle Scout is easily the most well known one, as it is the highest and requires a huge amount of effort.

I’m currently in the process of working on my Eagle Scout badge, and am almost there. While there are plenty of requirements for Eagle Scout, the most famous(or infamous, depending on who you ask) is the Eagle service project. The Eagle service project is a service project that the Scout decides on, which then has to be approved by their council before starting. Once the project is completed, the Scout has to send a moderately lengthy report to their council, which goes to the BSA headquarters to be approved. This process takes months, which is unfortunate for me as I become too old for Boy Scouts in July of 2020, meaning that I have approximately 1 chance to get it right. In fact, I’m actually almost done with the physical aspect of my Eagle Scout project, and will fully explained it in it’s own blog post.

Here are some pictures from some of the things I’ve done, the first is me working on a computer for the Family Life merit badge and the second is me updating my uniform with some stuff I’ve earned.

Track and Field

With the end of the swim season at SAISA(see my SAISA post) I’ve been needing a way to keep in shape. This is difficult when there’s no high school swim team, because I live no where near a local swim club and I’ve only done swimming for the last 8 years. I really don’t know how to do much else. When presented with the same dilemma last year, I chose to do track and field. This is because the stuff that they do in track and field is great general exercise, something which I needed and still need to keep up with.



SAISA Swimming 2019 – Kathmandu Nepal

Well, it happened. The SAISA swim meet this year not only marked the end of this swim season, but also 8 years of school swimming for me. 3 days of the swim meet went by in what felt like an hour, and I was back in the OSC parking lot before I knew it.

From Colombo to Kathmandu

The journey began at 9:30PM on Tuesday the 15th when my uber pulled up to the front gate of OSC. The busses were set to leave at 10:00, and everyone was excited. I was excited, a little nervous, and very tired, something which didn’t make the trip there easy. While it wasn’t necessarily bad, the trip there was slightly stressful due to us almost missing the plane from Delhi to Kathmandu. Despite this, we all made it to Kathmandu, met our host families, and went home for the day.

Day 1

The first day of SAISA kicked off for me at 7:00AM, when my alarm woke me. After getting ready for the day and having a very quick breakfast(the school bus showed up way sooner than we thought), we departed for the competition. Following the opening ceremony and warm-ups, the swimming began. I only had 2 events on the first day, the 100 backstroke and the 400 freestyle. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the 100 back, but I was excited for the 400 free. The 100 backstroke prelim was in the morning and the 400 free was in the afternoon. As I said, I wasn’t really that looking forward to the 100 back, but I beat my personal best by 7 seconds going from a 1:17.12 to a 1:10.07. I also managed to get into the finals which was exciting, and these would take place in the evening. I was free the rest of the morning and wisely spent it screaming my lungs out for my fellow teammates. I’m known on the OSC team for shouting loudly, and there was no shortage of that this year. At about 12:30, lunch began, though I found it hard to eat. I was really, really nervous for my 400 and didn’t want to eat too much and throw up. Eventually, I found myself sitting behind the diving blocks, with only 1 heat until my event. My seed time going in was a 5:01.67, a time that I thought I couldn’t improve on. Finally, they called us forward to stand on the blocks. My heart was racing despite my best efforts to remain calm, and I was actually shaking a little. “Take your marks,……..GO!”. Cut to what felt like an eternity later as I slammed my hand into the touch sensor, finishing my race. I turned around and the time that greeted me was 4:57.31. In retrospect, I should have been thrilled, though I was far too tired to really process anything after finishing. After crawling out of the water, I went back to cheering wildly for my team while I waited for the 100 back finals, something I was not particularly looking forward to but managed to pull 8th place. After witnessing the spectacle of the 200 freestyle relays, we had dinner at school and headed home.

The next day started slightly better than the first, with me leaving myself a little more time to get ready in the morning. I only had the 100 fly the day, and there were no finals for it, meaning I would only swim for about 1 minute the entire day. The 100 fly is one of the most daunting and feared events at SAISA, and rightly so. While I do enjoy doing butterfly as a stroke, as do many people, it becomes very, very, very tiring after doing more than 50 meters. Regardless, I was still excited. My seed time going in was 1:12.40, and I managed to do a 1:10.56, which made me happy. Since I had no events left for the day, I got changed and spent the rest of it drinking milkshakes and destroying my voice further through screaming.

The final day of the competition came alarmingly quick. The first event of the day, the 200 free, was the one I had been looking forward to the most for SAISA. Last year, I managed to get 6th place in it(despite barely practicing it), and I was looking to do better this year. We climbed onto the blocks, heard the familiar “take your marks” before “go” and I launched off the block… only to hear the frantic whistle blows and shouts in an attempt to stop us from swimming. This was because there had been a false start. In swimming, after the announcer says “take your marks” you are not allowed to move before the word “go”. In this case, somebody had moved, but they said “go” anyways. However, as we dived, they attempted to stop the race. This happened over about 2 seconds, and many of the swimmers in my heat didn’t know that there was a false start, and they kept swimming. Unfortunately for them, they wasted their energy and we had to re-do the start and the race basically immediately. Luckily for me, I had heard the whistles on my dive and had stopped right after I had hit the water. After that whole debacle, we climbed back on the blocks and started the race again without any issues. My final time was a 2:19.10, which landed me in 7th place. While I was disappointed I didn’t get 7th, I still was able to score points for the team. My next event followed almost immediately after the 200 free, and that was the 50 fly. While I’m not really a sprinter, I still had some hopes for the 50 fly. These were dashed when I got 15th place, meaning I didn’t make finals or score any points. I hadn’t even improved my personal best, which was probably the worst part. Turns out the difference between 11th place and 15th place was actually only about .3 of a second, so I guess I was close to making it. I also don’t really get to redeem myself here, since it’s my last SAISA. After the 50 fly, I got a milkshake and spent the rest of the day destroying the little that remained of my voice and helping coach doing math for points. We knew that the OSC team wasn’t going to get  1st or 2nd place, but we were really hoping for 3rd. We definitely didn’t want 4th, which we were currently in. However, all the math we were doing showed us in 4th place when the competition came to a close.

The awards ceremony came about far more quickly than I would have liked because it meant the official end of SAISA. Going into the awards ceremony, I was genuinely unsure of what was going to happen as I hadn’t been keeping that great of track on the points. All I knew was that we were probably 4th overall,


Opening ceremony(we were all squinting because they took the photo outside and the sun was directly in our eyes the entire time)


Right before the start of the 100 back


The OSC 15-19 boys

CAS Goals 2019-2020

The start of the new school years marks the start for another round of CAS activities. This year, I’m doing pretty much the same as last year with some exception and changes. The 2018-2019 school year was really great for me in terms of the things I did, and I grew as both a person and in terms of skill within these activities.

Creativity – concert band+Playing for the musical

While I’m continuing with concert band, this year is gonna be a little different. That’s because this is the year where the winter gala is replaced with a musical, and some band members play for it. Unlike the regular concert band, you had to be specially invited to play in it, and I was. It will take place after school on Mondays between 2:50 and 4:30, meaning that I can do both of these things. I’m very excited for it as I think it will really help my skills as  a musician, with effectively double the ensemble practice time.

Activity – SAISA swimming

This year marks my 8th year of doing swimming as a sport, and also my last, meaning that I’ve got to make it really worth it. To do this, I’ve set some goals that will help me improve as a swimmer, and I’m going to reach for them with all I have. After all, it’s my last chance at high-school swimming. I’m also a team captain this year, meaning that I have to also look out for the rest of the team, which is a good sized responsibility.

My first goal is pretty simple, to drop time on all my events. While it’s a generic goal, it’s also a good one. Despite me not swimming every event at SAISA, I feel like my general swimming ability should improve. Additionally, I’m looking to get better at some events in particular. These are the 200 freestyle, the 50 butterfly, the 100 butterfly, and the 400 freestyle. I want to really get better at these events because I really enjoy swimming them and I’m actually fairly decent at them already. Still, it’ll be a challenge to improve that’s going to take a lot of effort on my part.

My second goal is to be a good team captain. I know that saying “good” is a really ambiguous term, but I think that it’s important to

Service – Gecko Network

Last year was something of a orientation year for me in gecko network. While there wasn’t that much content initially put out, the production of content picked up over the year. However, I still feel that there is room for further improvement, where we actually push ourselves to learn and create as well as we can. Therefore, my goal is to be responsible and put out more, higher quality videos, for both regular gecko network and for gecko news. I also want to improve on my editing skills, something which I began to learn last year but never fully invested in. It’s going to be difficult, as I’m coming from essentially no experience to making good videos, but I think I can do it.


That wraps up my goals for the semester/year for now. I will update this post in semester 2 to reflect activities that change, like swimming or Oliver band.

Week Without Walls Trip – Venture North

On Monday the 21st of January at 5:45 in the morning, our W(eek)W(ithout)W(alls) trip began with piling into 2 cramped vans, loaded with our gear. With the water, bags, helmets, and snacks, the 5 and a half hour trip to our destination was certainly not one for the claustrophobic .Our destination was a camp/hostel near the Sigeria region of Sri Lanka. It was from there that we would extensively bike the surrounding area, with a stated goal of completing 100km. While there was some apprehension about this, I personally was not overtly worried. I knew it would be a new series of challenges to undertake, but that didn’t make me any less excited.

The first one of those many challenges came in the form of the Dambulla economic center. The economic center is a place where farmers sell their goods to the supermarkets/larger shops in bulk. Our task was to interview some of the people there, but it was very challenging to find someone who we could easily talk to, and for good reason. The overwhelming majority of the people there are payed based on how much they sell, meaning that talking to some tourists(we essentially were) would impact their profits. Luckily, my group managed to get two very interesting interviews before we ran out of time. Everyone loaded back into the vans, and we continued for another 1 and 1/2 hours to camp.

(our group interviewing at the economic center)

(our camp sign)

When we got to camp, we got our room assignments.

While the room was fantastic, there certainly was concern of animals. From talking to last year’s group, we learned that some of the rooms had rats in them, and there was a large monkey presence in the area. The rooms had an included plastic box to put our snacks in, but those were demonstrated not to work when one of the girl’s rooms was raided by animals and box(with snacks) destroyed. Following that, everyone relocated their snacks to the heavy wooden cupboards and drawers.

(where we had our meals)


Here’s my room(it had the best view)

After a brief lunch, we set out on our first ride of the trip. Because we only had half a day to work with, we only went a 16KM circuit to get used to the terrain and the bikes. I’m glad we had this ride, as we probably would have had far more accidents and problems had we gone straight into our main rides. The ground was rough and bumpy, with unpredictable holes and sand patches that seemed placed to make you wipe out. I came close several times, but we managed to only have 2 minor crashes that day amongst the group.

The second day is worth noting because of how painful it was. After the ride on the first day, we were all tired, but nobody explicitly was in pain or very sore, or so we thought. I think that everyone on the trip can agree that mounting on our bikes for the first time on the second day was the worst part of the trip. My initial dreams of that soreness fading away as we kept biking were quickly shattered though, as every bump sent a wave of pain coursing through my thighs and hips. In addition to that, my muscles were also exhausted and I was struggling to keep going by about 3/4 of the way through the ride. Luckily though, the teachers had some rehydration power which I drank, and that managed to revitalize me enough to finish without having to ride in the truck.

The third day had a great highlight with us climbing to the top of the large rock directly across from the famous Sigeria. It was certainly a nice break from the biking, and allowed us to stretch the part of our legs we weren’t using for biking. It’s a shame we didn’t have our phones on us, as the teachers didn’t take that many pictures of the great view.

On the 5th day, we passed through 150km and had a brief celebration. We biked for a little more, loaded the bikes in the truck and ourselves in the van, and drove home. There wasn’t too much conversation attributed to the fact that we were all exhausted. Over the course of our trip, we biked a little over 166km, smashing our original goal of 100 and then 150, and also beating out last year’s group who did around 85km.

I’m glad I did the bike trip as my last week without walls, and I think that it was the best trip that I could have done this year. It was the right combination of physical activity and the luxuries of staying in a single location, and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who can do it as a week without walls trip.


SAISA Swimming 2018

Well, it finally happened.

SAISA Swimming came and went in 3 short days, ending the swim season with a bang. While it was short, and everyone is all quite sad it’s over, it sure was worth the effort. My relationships and interactions with everyone on the team were deepened, and I think that we all became pretty good friends. From traveling to Jordan excited and nervous, to spending all day on the pool deck together, and to riding the bus back from the airport exhausted, I was getting to know everyone better.

The layout of SAISA swimming can be confusing, but I’ll try and explain it here. For starters, there are 6 age groups. Girls 10-12, boys 10-12, girls 13-14, boys 13-14, girls 15-19, and boys 15-19. The events occur in that order, with 15-19 boys going last.For most events at SAISA swimming, there are the prelims(preliminary heats) and finals. Prelims are the heats in which you must be entered in to have a chance at getting to finals. There are usually 4 heats of prelims, making a total of 16 people. Points are not counted in prelims, and the 12 fastest times in prelims make finals. Finals are the heats in which points are earned, where there are two heats, and a maximum of 12 points to earn(for the first place swimmer). However, not every event has finals, as some would be very difficult to swim again(eg.100 fly), so you only have one chance to do well. I personally made finals in 100 freestyle and the 50 butterfly.

I swam the following events and got the following times: (prelims/finals)

100 Butterfly: 1:14.4

100 Freestyle(made finals): 1:05.3/1:04.6

50 Butterfly (in the 200 medley relay): 31.49

200 Freestyle: 2:22.32

50 Butterfly(made finals): 32.56/32.88

Overall, OSC placed 3rd. 10-12 girls came first and 10-12 boys came second. 13-14 girls came second and 13-14 boys came third. Finally, 15-19 girls came third and 15-19 boys(my category) came first. We were all quite happy with the results, as it was a close race and the top 4 places were very close to each other.

(Left: Boys 15-19 Right: OSC)

(Photos taken by ACS)

For my first SAISA, I was very happy with how it went. I genuinely enjoyed every single part of it, from screaming my throat out on the pool deck in Amman, to helping to drag half-dead team members through the Jordan airport, it was great. I’d gladly do it again(I think nearly everyone on the team would), and I can’t wait for SAISA swimming 2019.



SAISA Swim Preparations – 17.10.2018

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October 26th, a date that draws ever nearer, one that carries feelings of excitement and angst. Because October 26th happens to be the first day of competition for SAISA swimming, and the culminations of the swim team’s efforts. SAISA(South Asia International Schools Association) Swimming is a swim tournament in which schools from around the region of South Asia complete against each other. This year’s tournament is being hosted in Amman, Jordan. The pressure is on for OSC to do really well, as they won first place in the previous year(I was not at OSC then).

The season is quite short by most standards, only allowing roughly 2 months of training. As well as that, within 2 weeks of traveling, we had a week school break, meaning that we get slightly out of shape from not swimming as much. However, for me the break was a relief, as it allowed me to rest my body fully, before the hardest part of the season. I did swim over the break, but it was difficult for me to do so as I was mainly visiting family in the U.S.

Over the break, the sign up sheet for the events was sent to us, and we were to complete it. We had to choose seven events(out of nine), and number them in order to indicate what we wanted. One was the event that you most desired to swim, seven was the one you least desired to swim. My choices were as follows:

  1. 50 Fly
  2. 100 Freestyle
  3. 100 Fly
  4. 50 Freestyle
  5. 200 Freestyle
  6. 100 IM(Individual Medley)
  7. 400 Freestyle

The events I actually got were:

50 Fly

100 Freestyle

200 Freestyle

100 Fly

I am really excited with the events I got, as I like all of them and it’s going to be really fun. I especially was excited to get 50 fly, as in my opinion it is the most exciting race of the whole meet(minus the relays). I also am in some relays, but am not sure which ones currently.

I’ll make a post with my times after the meet.