Helping Out At Home + Teaching 8th Graders

Service During Lockdown

In my first few weeks of DP2 I realized that it may take some time for school to resume service activities considering the uncertainty regarding whether we’ll be returning to school in person or not, so in the meantime, I decided that I would continue to give back to others in some way in the ways in which I could from the safety of my home during the pandemic. While usually I either attend multiple service groups during and after school ours with Hope For Kids and other school communities or carry out football lessons with primary school children. Unfortunately, neither of those things have been a possibility recently with the looming consequences of, you guessed it, another nationwide lockdown. So instead I decided that the best way to do my part in service would be through helping out at home and by tutoring a few of my brother’s friends online.

Just today, for example I was on a call with 2 of the girls from the 8th grade and they mentioned that they were struggling with a few of their assignments and certain concepts so today I sat with them on google meets for two hours and helped them overcome the hurdles of understanding the physics of waves and helped one of the review and reflect on their “perfect paragraphs” for English. Now naturally, I am not teacher by any means, but I had done these units previously in the MYP and I still had some of my notes and projects that I used to help them understand the concepts. For example to explain the concept of waves I pulled up one of my old E-Maze presentations which I made in the 10th grade demonstrating what waves are so that they could have a clearer idea of the definitions and prepare for their upcoming test. Likewise, for English homework help, I simply gave them certain pointers on where they could potentially have made improvements and without giving them the answers gently guided them into thinking about self improvement in the subject. This isn’t at the moment a regular occurrence but if they find my help useful in any way I told them that I would be happy to help :))

That aside, at home I’ve been helping out a lot more with things like chores. Recently our helper went back home so currently its just my mom, my brother and I at home and since most of the time we’re on our laptops doing school while mom is working around the house I felt that it was nice to take some of the burden off of her shoulders by offering to cook every now and then and by taking care of things like bathing the dog. These may seem like simple gestures but they make a world of difference for her since she has to run a lot of work to do and I aim to be a bit more involved when the holidays roll around.

^ A freshly showered and dried Bella ūüíô

Baking + Sunday Dinners

Baking and Making Sunday Dinners for My Family

During the course of my CAS journey one of my favorite endeavors that I decided to take up was cooking. It initially started as a one off thing but has soon become a regular occurrence in my household as of late and one that has not only been beneficial to me but my family as well. At home we like to switch things up whenever possible, order in different cuisines, try out new recipes etc. and lately as college has been drawing nearer and nearer my parents have reminded me how useful a skill knowing how to make your own food can be as you grow up. In addition to this I find cooking extremely therapeutic, it allows me to concentrate on whichever action I am doing and I momentarily let go of all of the stressful things in life. Another advantage of making meals on the occasion is that I get to give my mom a well deserved rest where she doesn’t have to cook and clean for the night while I simultaneously get to learn a lot about the cultures which my recipes come from.

^ Strawberry cheesecake & Chocolate chip cookies!

Over the past term I have backed everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheesecake while I’ve made dishes from all around the world. The key component of making everything is a lot of care, patience and practice as sometimes, doing things as simple as frying chicken can be extremely painstaking and time consuming but the end result is almost always more worth it if you put the effort in. The next mantra for the kitchen I would use is that not everything is going to work out, some recipes might do amazing but others maybe not so much. For example, this weekend I made chocolate chip cookies, now these were somewhat of a cheat meal because it was a pre-mixed pack and when I tasted the batter it didn’t taste too out of the ordinary but the moment you bit into it after it was baked it felt sweet enough to give you diabetes, which upon reflection wasn’t all too nice especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Another thing I’ve learned to deal with is that ingredients aren’t always readily available, especially during this pandemic since most of what we order is done online so I need to substitute quite a few ingredients whenever possible. Here are a few of my absolute favorite meals that I made over the past 3 weeks.

KBQ, also known as Korean Barbecue Chicken is a Korean dish which consists of crispy buttermilk battered chicken doused in spicy gochujang sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. KBQ is something that my brother and I always wanted to order in but since the store closed during lockdown we decided that we’d make it ourselves. The cook time was actually quite long because you had to wait for the chicken to marinate and then fry them till they’re cooked but the end result was very worth the wait.

Chili Con Carne on the other hand, is a Mexican dish which loosely translates to chili with meat, the dish consists of a delicious seasoned stew which is usually accompanied on a bed of rice with cheese on top, this dish was fairly easy to make and honestly delectable even though this was the first time I had tried it. The second part of this dish is the Hot Butter Cuttlefish which is one of my all time favorite side dishes which to my surprise is actually a part of Sri Lankan Chinese fusion cuisine! Unfortunately this time around there wasn’t any flour at home to make the crispy batter with, but it was just as delicious without.

The third dish that I found was a great success was my mom’s take on a Cajun/ Creole dish called Jambalaya which is basically a rice dish with vegetables and meat combined with rice. My mom’s recipe of the dish doesn’t necessarily follow the original ingredient list but uses an amazing combination of ham and rice with minimal vegetables instead! Jambalaya also contains influences from regions like Spain, Africa and France and so it can be said that many regions have their own take on the dish with different meat and vegetable variations but that’s what makes this dish so diverse in the first place.

I would highly recommend trying these out at home!!

 

Finding New Ways To Be Active

Activity Post #2

At the start of this year, I challenged myself to find new and more innovative ways to stay active. I interpreted this as taking on new activities and opportunities which I could use to maintain my physical wellbeing in an innovative way using whatever was available to me. In this short period of time I have taken on new experiences ranging from fishing to golf and everything in between, some of which are things I never expected myself to be brave enough to try despite my initial doubts. In hindsight even though not every single experience was suited to my tastes I have no regrets about making the most of the opportunities I was presented, knowing full well that not many people were lucky enough to experience the sports I did especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Golf

When I was younger I always considered golf to be an “old people’s sport”. You may laugh now, but if I’m being completely honest, I just didn’t get the hype of standing around on a grass field watching someone carefully swing a club for an hour till the ball meandered its way into the hole. I must admit though that my judgement is is probably biased since all my life all I ever took part in was dynamic sports seeing that at no point in football, badminton or tennis was I required to stay still and be patient; it was always about a flurry of movement, anticipation and agility.

In addition to that I didn’t think that golf required much skill, I mean how hard could it be to swing a club and hit a ball right? Right… well you see that’s actually not at all true and I had to find out the hard way. My little brother actually took to golf¬† quite easily last year after he played for fun while we were on holiday while I on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it. When my parents took Dimitri to his first golf lesson, I good naturedly argued that I wouldn’t see myself playing golf with my friends anytime soon and so I didn’t go but one day¬† I actually ended up waiting for him at the course. It took place on artificial turf with a bunch of modified elevation levels to duplicate an actual field. I sat there watching him for about 30 minutes till I got restless, even now, I don’t consider golf much of a spectator sport, it’s more like chess, careful and calculated with¬† LOTS of patience and waiting. Either way, his instructor took notice and asked if I would like to head over to the other side and maybe take a swing or two and I said YES! relieved that I could finally stop counting the seconds left for his 2 hours to be over. I swung confidently thinking that I was going to replicate a Tiger Woods move just like on TV but of course, I missed. I had no technique, the wrong stance, wrong posture and wrong weighting – this is where the difficulty comes into play. Eventually his instructor came around to help me out and gave me a couple pointers on how to stand, where to swing, which muscles to use and how to follow through and believe it or not after taking quite a while to set myself up, I managed my Tiger Woods swing!! I’m kidding of course, but hey, it was a big improvement from what I did before. Now I still don’t go as frequently as my brother does and I would say that it isn’t exactly my favorite sport, but I still go and take my shots whenever I drop in, to each their own right?

My Tiger Woods Swing ūüėČ

^ Getting ready to go body boarding

More Vacation Activities

Another 3 things I tried this past quarter was going body boarding, kayaking and even fishing. Now I had actually been kayaking multiple times before so this wasn’t necessarily my first rodeo but it certainly was the first one where my kayaking partner and I nearly ended up getting beached… We were just so busy enjoying the morning sun and trying to detangle our oars from the lotus roots that neither of us realized that we had ventured into the shallows which had dried out thanks to the warm weather. Thankfully it didn’t require much effort except for getting down knee deep in mud to use teamwork to drag it off of the mudbank, it wasn’t exactly what I would call pleasant but it wasn’t the worst case scenario either, either way I enjoyed it! Next up we decided to go bodyboarding. This had been something that I had been greatly looking forward to because pretty much everyone who had visited Karpaha Sands raved about the beach, and as you may already know the beach is my happy place. Body boarding was a great way to relax and just work some of that stress from school off just rolling with the waves and laughing heartily whenever one of us got wiped out, it also slipped my mind a few times that this would be one of my last summers in my home country so it was a great memory of sorts to keep and naturally a good break from the intensive usual regimes I follow during the weekdays.

^Kayaking!

Last but certainly not least was personally the most shocking encounters for me. My brother has been an avid fish lover since he was a little baby and now that we were surrounded by water he was literally jumping with excitement at the thought of being able to go fishing. I obliged seeing as I had seen Jeremy Wade countless times on the Discovery channel making catch after catch of monster fish and I had thought ‘Hey! This could be my lucky day!’ What discovery channel doesn’t show you however is how truly intense the whole experience is. I’m quite a softie when it comes to animals so when we actually caught a few decently sized fish like the length of my arm I wanted nothing more than to return is safely back into the water because seeing them thrash around the boat wasn’t my idea of fun. I dive, to protect animals not kill them, but sadly for us a lot of the ones that we caught ended up being dinner for our guides. That aside, the physical aspect of fishing comes from the sheer strength and willpower that is needed to fight against the fish that attempts to swim away, it burns your arms and is a constant tug of war till the fish wears out and then another battle to wrestle the hook out of its mouth. All in all I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed that experience too much simply because of my moral dislike towards it, but I do believe that catch and release is enjoyable just not when you don’t have the right resources and the odds of the fish surviving are low, in hindsight my positive takeaway from that of course is that I got somewhat of an arm workout, but I doubt I will be trying that anytime soon again.

First time fishing

Getting Back at It

Activity Post #1 – DP1 Continued Ventures

At the start of this year, one of my main activity related goals was to continue the work I did last year with hiking, football, home workouts and diving. While this year began with quite a bit of uncertainty thanks to the prevailing lockdown conditions in the country which which limited my access to sports facilities and leaving the premises of my house in general, I adapted to the best of my ability to complete my goals in whichever capacity COVID would let me.

Hiking

In my goal blog post at the start of DP2, I mentioned that I would like to go hiking at least once again in the upcoming semester and what do you know, I was actually able to go once again. We were able to revisit Hanthana where my previous hike had been but due to improved weather conditions they actually allowed us to climb up the rock where Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom was filmed!! The exact name of the mountain is unknown but its is somewhere downriver from Victoria Dam in Kandy (which Hanthana is in very close proximity to) and was relatively close to the villa that we stayed at. As for the hike itself I would say that it was rather uneventful as this time around only a smaller handful of us went because the hike is more dangerous and is also at a much higher altitude and as expected not having a five year old with us on the trip eased so much of the pressure on the remaining hikers. That being said, although the terrain got a little bit slippery on the way up we managed to get up without much of a hitch and climb down safely and I felt that this time around I felt safer and more sure because¬† I knew what to and what not to do i.e.. step on loose rocks on the way down…ūüėā OH AND THIS TIME GUESS WHO ACTUALLY PACKED THEIR LEECH SOCKS?! Yes, that’s right,¬† yours truly finally remembered how much she did not want to get eaten by the little bloodsuckers and made sure to bring a pair along. Moving on, now naturally the iconic bridge from the movie was sadly no longer there but it still felt insane and surreal to be standing where this legendary series was filmed in 1984¬† almost 40 years ago!! And last but not least even though it got a bit too foggy up top to see the entire vista it’s easy to say that this was one of the most physically strenuous yet absolutely rewarding hikes I had done :))

^ Hike #3 since the start of my CAS journey

^ A still from the actual movie featuring the bridge (Den of Geek, 2014)

Diving

Yet another thing that I have been wanting to accomplish recently is to go diving which I had been meaning to do since around 3 months ago but couldn’t do so initially because of island wide travel restrictions and other COVID related concerns. However this time, I did get to actually go do a couple dives albeit they were merely recreational because it was a rather spontaneous decision to go visit the dive centers on our holiday. Unfortunately for me I couldn’t go on more than 1 dive because I couldn’t equalize and any diver would know that the last thing someone should do is continue when they can’t equalize because it could potentially puncture your eardrum so for while my brother went on his dives, I decided to head back to the shore with my friend Nehla (who came on the trip but wasn’t a certified diver) and her family to do some snorkeling closer to the beach. Weirdly enough my equalizing problem didn’t last very long but by that time I discovered that I could. the others were long gone on their dives so I had to sit the second one out which was a bit of a bummer since I was really looking forward to my second dive but snorkeling was fun nonetheless! There were less fish than we expected though most likely because of the state of the corals in the reef which weren’t looking too healthy :/

^ Myself (left) and my friend Nehela (right) snorkeling in Pasikudah

Working Out + Football

The third set of endeavors in the activity section of my blog I am continuing in DP2 is my commitment to football and completing home workouts to remain fit. While football was limited to mostly doing challenging drills at home, taking note from videos such as which guided me through getting back in form every day after school for 30 minutes to maintain my skillset, I also used another 30 minutes every other day (depending on the intensity of the workout) and my IB Wellness Days to complete certain Cirque du Soleil workouts.¬† Initially, I felt as though I had just signed myself up to a year of torture because the Cirque du Soleil workouts are extremely rigorous and are mostly used by professionally trained athletes and in the first week I had to take many breaks to complete my session and it left me sore for days but after a few sessions of just building up stamina I was able to circulate through about 3 workout videos and taking less breaks. This goes without saying that the workout sessions are still a work in progress and that it’s a matter of getting back in shape before actually straining myself, so looking forward I have decided to maybe alternate my workouts from non Cirque du Soleil ones and the harder ones. In the upcoming months I aim to focus more specifically on cardio, abs, arms and legs and maybe also do some yoga every odd week to relieve some tension that gets built up following my workouts.

Practicing shots on a mini goal for improved accuracy

Here are the videos that I used:

Home Workouts –

Football-

Harvard Pre-Law Academy + In Conversation With Forbes’ Laurel Donnellan

Summer Endeavors 

Sometime towards the end of last year I loosely touched on my acceptance into Harvard’s¬† pre-law program. Among the many external courses I took part in in DP1 I was informed of two potential opportunities that I could take part in over the summer and after 2 essays, one questionnaire and an interview I received the news that I had been selected. Now that all of it is said and done, let me catch all of you up on a little bit of what I did this summer.

Harvard Pre-Law Academy

  < Day 1

After receiving my acceptance letter I could barely contain my excitement, I had made it into a law course! One that was sponsored by Harvard nonetheless! Even though I was happy I got selected in I was also just as nervous. Harvard is something that I have always associated synonymously with academic excellence so naturally, I had my fair share of nerves since I assumed the other 19 selected students would be mini Einsteins.

In the weeks that followed I received multiple emails briefing me on what I was to except from a course overview to a note docket and itinerary. I was then introduced to the two course leaders, Nisha and Maia who led our sessions for the upcoming weeks. The first few sessions were rather predictable, we did our introductions got introduced to different law terminology and judicial systems and were split into various breakout rooms to talk to conduct research in. I soon got to know quite a few of my peers some of whom I still keep in touch with today, and naturally they were all as smart as I expected them to be but they were also very welcoming and just bounced ideas off of each other. At the end of it all I can even confidently say that I learned just as much from my friends as I did my mentors. As the final week approached, things turned up a notch. Our mentors decided to introduce the main component of the program: a mock trial. Yes, you heard me right, an actual mock trial based off of an actual trial that would be mediated by Nisha and Maia in the end as unbiased judges.

They decided to pick our roles within our teams at random and much to my shock I ended up being given the role of the primary defendant! This was huge, I was going to be playing the defendant and defense attorney for myself as Dana M. Colby the principal of Michigan High School who was accused of enabling a memorandum that had to do with the alleged unlawful seizing of student, Pat Roman’s bag in a civil case. This meant that my partner Nubar (who would play co-defendant as the teacher who seized the bag (Terry Wordshaw)) and I, would act as defense attorneys while the other members of our team would be responsible for gathering data, cross examination and other logistics in a fight against the plaintiffs who claimed that privacy comes above the safety of the students seeing that the teacher came up empty handed aside from a cigarette after the search. Initially I was concerned because I personally sided with the plaintiffs argument at first, but naturally, one of the first steps to being a good lawyer is to put your own opinions aside. Nubar was extremely diligent and myself, her, a boy named Iqbal and a girl named Nadine spent the good part of the next week working tirelessly at finishing opening statements, closing statements, witness statements, summaries of facts, rebuttals, questions for direct and cross examination etc. It was a very long and nail biting week but we managed to stay on top of things. On top of that we had sometimes up to three meetings a week and constant correspondence via social media just to ensure that we were on track.

On the day of the mock trial we went in well prepared. I was to give out the opening statement which I had written and answer all the questions in direct and cross examination. My opening speech was spoken out without much error and I was positively beaming on the inside because we had made a solid start. I had also suggest that we trip the other team up by making our expert witness a child psychologist so that she could comment on Pat Roman’s behavioral tendencies to create mischief. Any good lawyer is a good story teller after all ūüėõ

The direct examination went quite well except a member of the other team kept interrupting at every instance saying “the question is irrelevant to the case your honor!” every time I opened my mouth to answer which was rather infuriating but the cross examination was where I redeemed myself.

We had known full well that the angle they would use to win the case would be to talk about an infringement of privacy but we made it so that we placed special emphasis on certain clauses of the amendment in focus and after that it was really just a matter of re-iterating facts. The rest of our trial went off in very intense rounds of questioning, I didn’t quite expect that much passion from an online mock trial but it was clear that everyone including myself was very highly invested and much thanks to Iqbal our resident cross-examiner he asked questions from the plaintiffs that had them squirming in their seats. After a good 20 minutes of deliberation our judges felt they were ready to give out our verdict.

I had been excitedly talking to my teammates on the chat reminding them of how proud I was of all our hard work regardless of the verdict since at that point in time I genuinely did not know what the decision would be and then, much to the defense team’s delight Nisha announced that although their personal views resided with the plaintiff’s argument we made such a compelling case that we won! All of us were elated and knowing that we had not only managed to win but sway the personal beliefs of the judges felt incredible. Having gone up against some seriously intense opposition and still winning out made it all the more worth it :))

In hindsight, Harvard’s Future Lawyers Program was one of my proudest achievements and most exiting endeavors. I had not only been accepted into an exclusive group but also lead my team to a solid victory as well alongside Nubar! This was an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity that I will certainly remember for the years to come.

An extract from the 57 page case reading we had to each do and take notes on! ^

^ My certificate of participation

^ Our program course book

In Conversation with Lauren Donnellan 

Another pleasant surprise I had this summer was when Learn With Leaders (the platform I used to find my law course) extended an invite to an invite only conversation with Laurel Donnellan about career paths. By this time after my participation in the pre-law academy I had made up my mind that I would want to choose a law related career path perhaps in diplomacy but I wanted to see if it was the right fit for me, not to mention that Laurel is a contributor at Forbes.com where she writes about Compassionate Leadership and focuses on leadership and falling in love with careers through kindness and purpose. This is naturally a major achievement and her resume spoke for itself when looking at all the incredible entrepreneurs she interviewed and the people she inspired. In this time we spoke in small groups about what makes someone passionate about a job and how being passionate towards it can benefit your lifestyle, health and happiness in the long run.

^ Donnellan’s Forbes Profile

^ Certificate of Participation

Goal Setting DP2

DP2 Goal Setting

With a new academic year in the horizon it felt essential to review and reflect on my CAS goals so that I can maintain a balanced extracurricular lifestyle in my final year of school. Despite the many challenges I faced the previous year when switching between online school, in person school and lockdown I overcame countless hurdles although now I look towards the new year with renewed optimism. I feel as though I have now experienced enough of this unusual pattern in the post COVID era to understand how to best juggle my CAS activities in a way that puts me more at ease. Now naturally there is a good chance that this year may be even more unpredictable than the last considering that it is going to be a hectic final year in the DP in addition to the fact that we might return to face to face school as early as November because of improved vaccine rates so really only time can tell but I have created an easily adaptable set of goals for what I want to accomplish in the following year.

Creativity

In the past year I challenged myself with a wide variety of creative activities ranging from running service related social media accounts to writing letters, pursuing recreation photography and so much more while my central focuses were on editing, cooking and baking (which was unexpected but soon evolved into a regular hobby of mine) as well as music, i.e. playing the guitar. In DP1 I also took on the tasks of getting involved in events like the IVY Girls Lead which helped develop my people and leadership skills. In the upcoming year I feel that as a long term goal I plan on spending at least 30 minutes each Saturday and Sunday learning a song on the guitar or alternatively the piano. I can learn how to play the song with Marlon (my guitar teacher), by using YouTube or Ultimate Guitar. On Saturday I can just practice, acquaint myself with the chords etc. and then use the Sunday to really spend some time perfecting it. If I find the piece particularly challenging then I will also use the second week to my advantage as well. In addition to this I feel that it is important to maintain my progress making food especially as college draws nearer. I am rather ecstatic with how far I have come and certainly do not want to fall behind now. I will try and make at least one meal / dish every week from a variety of different cultures so that I can not only make the dish but also learn about its origins.¬† As for editing which was one of my goals last year, I feel as though I cannot keep up at the same frequency in which I did last year, naturally my studies are a bigger priority to me this time around so editing up to 3 times a week seems a bit unrealistic alongside coming up with inspiration, which is why I have decided to do it whenever I feel motivated to do so, because, like Atticus once famously said, “Art takes time – Monet grew his gardens before he painted them.”¬†In addition to these central goals I naturally aim to continue to apply my creative abilities and outlets in other potential areas as well as a form of relaxation.

Activity

While my plans for activity haven’t gone exactly according to plan last year having highly anticipated the ability to train and participate in SAISA and be outdoors for badminton and diving and other previous goals, things last year had to be a lot more spontaneous and adapted to the constantly changing regulations regarding leaving the house. However, that being said this unexpected turn of events also enabled me to do so much more than regular football training including a lot more adventurous endeavors since I’ve had the incredible opportunity to travel to many places within Sri Lanka on vacation during this time. I have gone surfing and hiking and dome more activities which are things that are either entirely new experiences or somewhat outside of my comfort zone while I have also had the ability to maintain my general fitness through means such as home workouts, yoga, biking, football, tennis etc. By the end of this semester I would have liked to accomplish at least three new physical activities that aren’t regular for me hopefully whenever I get the opportunity to go out. Living in Sri Lanka and my Activity blogs for the past year have made me realize how lucky I am to live in a country that offers such amazing outlets for keeping fit and because I enjoy trying new things or just challenging myself in general I look foreword to participating in them. As for general fitness I aim to continue to my regular workouts (perhaps try the Cirque Du Soleil workouts which are known to be extremely strenuous if I feel capable) and I hold myself to continuing my football drills to not lose complete touch with the sport and if the circumstances allow I would also like to do another hike in the upcoming months. An absolute cherry on top would be being able to go diving although I am unsure as of now whether that would be possible given the situation in the country and lastly, if COVID allows, I would like to finally join TAFA a football club outside of school to play in my free time. These physical activities would keep me fit and healthy for the next year.

Service

This school year, I plan on rejoining Hope For Kids as a returning member. This will be my 3rd consecutive year in this service group which I have been in since I first joined OSC and if things go according to plan I would be service leader alongside Saesha this year. Once again a lot of our action depends on the situation here because our levels of interaction with the children we work with are heavily dependent on health and the risks associated with COVID as we would in no way want to put them in danger. Naturally, we did accomplish a lot last year with events ranging from fundraisers to food drives and activity sessions so hopefully we get to continue along this successful streak (while also preferably returning to school) and I hope that I can satisfactorily guide the members of our service group into another productive year :)) Aside from that I will try and make smaller contributions to the community whenever possible as well including within my own home and outside of it while participating in groups like The Margin and Girls RISE once again if they are reinstated in school.

Creativity Post

A little bit of everything 

Over the past few months, I have done a culmination of far too many things creatively to rant on about on my CAS blog without boring my readers, however I will give you a few small snapshots into the greater things I accomplished this semester. Admittedly, initially, I always thought of CAS as something which highlights a monumental non-academic achievements which you have participated in, but over the past few terms I have gradually learned that that is indeed not the case. CAS is about how you incorporate these 3 elements into daily life and how you benefit from it and how others benefit from you taking part in them, so this time around, instead of focusing on one major event aside from those already described in my CAS blog, I chose to take a step back and admire the bigger picture, by looking at the ways in which I employ creativity in my day to day life. Creativity has become of the essence to me as of late because I have just gone through another tumultuous turn of events where we went from online school, to in person school, to online school and lockdown… yet again. It’s almost like we come full circle each year!

Needless to say I have been taking part in activities that both consciously and subconsciously employ my creative side ranging from creating posters and posts for various social media sites for my service groups, to mindfully taking part in meditation sessions to coloring and photography and last but not least… music. This term I have come to have a more focused approach on myself in terms of self care and learning to derail a bit from the often draining academic train that is the IB outside of the classroom.

I have done everything from helping my mom rearrange the living room, to creating and organizing aesthetic Pinterest boards of things I hope to accomplish, to serenading my dogs with Jason Mraz accompanied by my guitar (this is a secret), to dedicating time into making playlists with over 200 songs each to match each mood I’m feeling to name a few. I have also actively spent more time on perfecting photography and editing as well as just spent a laidback day doing therapeutic coloring with my friend and just sat down to do guided meditation for 15 minutes each day. None of these activities may seem extremely glorious, but as someone who is constantly on the move and a bit of a workaholic at times, I am proud of the fact that I have gotten myself into the consistent rhythm of taking at least an hour away each day to unwind, which earlier, I found shockingly difficult to bring myself to¬† ¬† do.

This time around the activities I have done in terms of creativity are intended not to please others but to to satisfy myself, a much needed serotonin boost of sorts as I feel like I strive too often to make others happy to the extent where I don’t tend to my own needs and just end up stressed and frustrated instead. Usually my outlet for releasing stress is being on a pitch kicking a soccer ball around, but with lockdown weighing heavily on Sri Lanka again, I have had to find more creative ways of stress relieving, keeping my mental wellbeing at the forefront of my mind.

Accomplishment wise, mine may not be a great deal astonishing, but I do have to acknowledge the fact that this is somewhat of a major personal milestone and that by putting myself first at times, I have become more attentive to my interactions with others! For example, my Spotify is now a carefully curated list of playlists ranging from classical, to rap, French music to improve my listening and speaking skills to numerous others that capture my emotions. It has also given me the ability to get to know a few of my classmates better due to similarities in music taste and it have given me a great amount of joy to be able to share something that I consider personal to myself with others. I have also dedicated a fair share of time to spend with my friends, for example the other week my friend Shreya and I decided to do online coloring for about 30 minutes which was a great way for us to catch up given that we hadn’t seen each other in person for a while and in the way that we were able to work as a team to carefully complete each piece!

< A piece I created with Shreya during Lockdown

Moreover, something else that I have taken up as a new endeavor is meditation. Initially I must admit I was a bit skeptical but one night I was so overwhelmed by my work that I thought the only way to calm myself down might be to try meditation so I spent about 30 minutes of my night the first time listening to Deepak Chopra’s ‘Fear’ to calm myself down, and what did I know, it worked! From then on I spend 15 minutes each night listening to a podcast of sorts and attempt to focus on nothing else but my breathing and the words of the narrator in that time and it has been proven massively relieving each time.

That aside something else that I have been spending significant time on is photography, personally, I tend to take a camera or in the least my phone with me wherever I go, so in that way I can capture an image at a moment’s notice. I was truly able to exercise my aptitude for photography when I was in Hanthana,¬† the views were spectacular and I had just discovered some presets on Polarr which I immediately had to use. In a way, I was aiming for a more abstract image of things simple due to the composition of the landscapes and I wanted to make something different. Needless to say, I am really happy with the way in which they came out and can’t wait for another opportunity take more photos like that again! Similarly, I have also been paying attention to my video edits.¬† I must admit though that with the end of my DP1 experience nearing, I have been finding less and less time and motivation to edit, which does make sense because at this stage I do need to be prioritizing my school work.

In my off time however, I have spent a small amount of time working with new apps like Cap Cut to try out new filters and transitions. For example, my most recent exploration is creating videos with photographs that turn 3D when a certain effect is applied, I am constantly blown away by the developments in technology and I was fascinated with the outcomes. Although my editing account has reached somewhat of a hiatus for the time being, I have every intention of starting it back up full force when summer vacation starts so I’m really looking forward to that!

Last but certainly not least is my newest update on my adventures in the kitchen. When comparing¬† my cooking¬† from when I started this¬† blog to the work that I am capable of doing now, even the blind can see the extent to I have improved by in only a matter of months. My cooking has grown from me only being able to make instant ramen and a fried egg to being capable of¬† making a full meal! Sure, I do occasionally have my missteps (often because I have an irrational tendency to improvise), but also because trial is the only way towards perfecting newer recipes. My parents have so much faith in my cooking now that I was even given permission to bake a batch of cupcakes completely unsupervised if would you believe it! ¬†(They came out tasting amazing for the record, although I grossly misjudged the ingredients and ended up with a 22 instead of the mere 6 I needed ūüíÄ) Regardless, my cooking skills have witnessed a major growth curve of the past year and I think I might just be on the right track to being able to feed myself during university!

Here is of my favorite dishes I made this month, spaghetti and shrimp with white sauce  :))

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1M_LQLw_nO6M4XHf6utER4LzEBjqL-264/view?usp=sharing

^ a link to my 3D video edit

The Margin + OSC Girls RISE

The Margin, Ivy Girls Lead, Girls RISE and Harvard Future Lawyers Programme

Two endeavors that I have recently taken up this semester are becoming a member of  two new clubs which were formed in the OSC community as a form of outreach towards younger girls in school and the Margin as an established a method of educating the student and teacher body on the treatment of marginalized communities.

The Margin is the first group I joined, in the group, members meet up once each week to explore the misconceptions regarding different different communities of people around the world, we discuss issues ranging from racial inequality to homophobia while we educate ourselves and things such as disabilities in order to reduce the stigma that is felt within any environment in which a member of the student body may encounter. So far, we have met up over 5 times having accomplished setting up a website and earned ourselves a section on the daily bulletin. I even got to take the initiative to create our first ever daily bulletin post about the Afro-Sri Lankans of Puttalam, a forgotten community that have gradually lost their ties to their African roots after integration into Sri Lankan life post colonization after being brought in as slave workers. I chose to submit this post as a part of our Black History Month initiative. This required a fair share of creativity as I had to learn how to use E-maze in order to make my post and learn how to navigate it. Regardless, since, I have contributed to adding to our timeline, attended multiple ted talks, and had valuable discussions with my peers about the prevention of exclusion and the importance of educating oneself on these matters. Needless to say, each of these discussions have been extremely insightful and I am honored to be a part of a group that is capable of contributing so much to the others.

Link to my 1st post: https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fvenngage.net%2Fps%2FanWcHV5w5sk%2Fsri-lankan-colonial-slavery&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGvlVtiCbFtE-vNBeu471Mrq0DMzQ

The second group which I recently became a member of is the Girls RISE project, which I may have mentioned in one of my earlier blogposts concerning the IVY GIRLS lead. Admittedly, at the time the project was only an idea, and we were only capable of making it a reality this semester. When joining, I agreed to take on the role of a mentor and although we haven’t gotten to the mentorship stage of the project just yet, we have had the honor of being able to bring in three very accomplished guest speakers who were undoubtedly awe inducing to anyone in attendance. The first, being Tiffany Carothers from Girls Make Waves,¬† Jayanti Kuru-Utumpala, the first Sri Lankan to climb Mount-Everest and our most recent guest, philanthropist Maggie Doyne who who holds a Forbes Award for Excellence in Education among many other renowned accolades including CNN’s hero of the year. Each week I have taken notes on the different stories shared by the guest speaker and am sharing them for later use for when it is my turn to share my wisdom with the girls I will be mentoring, so far, however, the initiative has been amazing and the opportunities granted to us in the process is something I’m eternally grateful for, especially considering that women’s rights is something I have wanted to advocate for since being a little girl, and I am honored that¬† I get to lead by example for the younger students now.

Additionally, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone last week to make a speech during our school assembly, reminding the OSC student body about the work that we have done in the past year and the work that we hope to accomplish in the coming years especially in relation to Girls RISE which happens to be one of the newer initiatives in school. I was a little nervous when Ms. Fleming approached me, but I took it in stride and wrote and delivered the speech the best I could.

Here is a small extract from my announcement:

“Hi, I’m Devanga Silva from DP1 and I am going to be talking to you about a program which several students from OSC took part in over the last few months. IVY Girls Lead was a program that took place from December through March where 25 girls were selected from around Sri Lanka to participate in an intensive 10 day virtual programme and a 3 month service project we had to create ourselves which consisted of multiple opportunities to develop our leadership skills as young women in society. As members of the Ivy Lead, we were able to take part in group discussions, talent-analysis activities and even got the honor of participating in presentations with a powerful panel of female industry leaders that helped us cultivate stronger leadership and business skills while learning more about our interpersonal relationships as well. And we were even featured in a Sunday Times news article. Because of the success of IVY Girls Lead, we decided to create a similar program at OSC which I will be handing over to Miku to tell us more about.”

Lastly, but Certainly not least, my work in these projects, IVY GIRLS, the Margin and girls RISE gave me the boost of confidence to apply for a summer course with Harvard Student Agencies and Learn With Leaders, in an exclusive program which takes in 10 candidates from around the world for a 2 week course on law. Initially when signing up I wasn’t very sure of my chances of making it in, especially considering that the only ways in which they assess your application is through a survey and an interview. Needless to say when time came for met to answer my interview questions (which I wasn’t informed about in the least before hand) I was able to relevantly piece together information and depict my concern for social injustices in a way that had my acceptance letter in my email the very next day! Naturally¬† I am elated and even proud of myself for building this much confidence within the past few months and I am grateful to school for providing me with these amazing opportunities to exercise what I am passionate about. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I can’t wait to see what¬† I learn from it (which will also be very valuable to my further education) but that’s an update for another time! I can’t wait to revisit my experience when I return to DP2.

 

√Čcrire des lettres aux personnes √Ęg√©es

Writing letters to the elderly – French Service Project 2021

As student in French B this year, I was told at the start of DP1 that I would be required to cover are all three areas of CAS in 3 posts by the end of my 2 year DP journey. Luckily for myself, I thought ahead of time and have managed to complete 2 of the 3 tasks. I successfully completed my first task when I made my own rendition of the Swiss desert, bonhommes last Christmas and I have just now done my part in my French service project.

For this year, myself and a few of my classmates, chose to write letters to the residents of an elders home who have had a hard time with COVID being unable to see their families and were in need of a little bit of cheering up :)) By keeping that intention in mined, I set out with the goal of writing my letter (shown below) to put a smile on their faces and to assure them that everything would be just fine during COVID and that the tough times will pass. My letter began with me introducing myself, my name, my age, my home and my hobbies etc. after which, I went on to talk about my own experience in quarantine and how it is affecting my life and its shortcomings, while I also assured my pen pal about how it it possibly the only way for things to go back to normal. I talked about how it has given me the time to explore things such as hobbies that I would usually not participate in leisurely in the absence of COVID, namely hobbies of mine such as playing music, reading and playing with my dogs which I haven’t had the time to engage in due to school. And at last, I said that¬† I hoped they were doing well and concluded with an inspirational quote by a man named Robert Choquette who said something the lines of, “At the heart of uncertainty, there will always be hope, no matter how weak it is.” and included 2 pictures of my dogs because let’s be there’s no bigger serotonin boost than puppies out there.

En français: 

Cette ann√©e, pour mon projet de service CAS, j’ai choisi d’√©crire une lettre aux personnes √Ęg√©es dans une maison pour personnes √Ęg√©es en France. J’ai choisi de le faire parce que je savais que COVID doit √™tre plus difficile pour eux que pour moi, car la plupart du temps, ils ne pourront pas voir les membres de leur famille, alors je voulais les rendre heureux et pleins d’espoir et leur rappeler que tout allait bien se passer.

Alors je leur ai écrit cette lettre:

 

Hikes and Football in Hanthana

From the View to the Leeches and Everything in Between

Around a month ago on April the 15th, I got the privilege of being able to travel with my family and a few friends to a region in Sri Lanka called named Hanthana (which by the way, for any film buffs out there, is where Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom was filmed!)

We set out on a rather long journey of about 5 hours (which arguably felt longer due to the migraine inducing effects of holiday traffic) from Colombo to the hillside where our villa resided. It was rather rainy by the time we got there so we immediately assumed the worst and thought we wouldn’t be allowed to go on our much awaited hike the next day. However, much to our excitement the staff at the villa said it wouldn’t be a problem.

The next morning we woke up at around 6 am and put on our gear, which for me was lacking an element because I had forgotten to pack my leech socks (yikes) and ate a very light breakfast of about 2 scones and left on our way. This was going to be the first proper hike that I had ever been on, given that the one that I talked about in my earlier post about in Hatton didn’t technically count because there wasn’t much of an ascent and since it was on practically paved ground.

As we moved towards the starting point I made sure to stick next to the guide all the way up at the front because the last thing I wanted was to be behind around 10 kids and 5 adults trying to slowly amble their way up a mountain and also… because we had a dog climbing Hanthana’s third peak with us, and no, I am not exaggerating when I say he really climbed to the very top of the mountain with unbelievable ease – Bantu the dog was always 5 steps ahead of everyone else.

It was rather tricky from the get go, in fact it was a lot steeper than we expected it to be and the footpath, well… there wasn’t one, which meant that it was a lot of loose rocks, barely there hand holds and the constant fear of slipping. On top of that our littlest hiker, Evan,¬† (you’re probably familiar with him being one of kids I coach football with)¬† was all the way at the front with the guide and he tripped a few too many times in a way that¬† that took the guide out and nearly took me out as well! However, thankfully, it was pretty uneventful except for a few incidents along the way where someone couldn’t adjust to the altitude and naturally the occasional scream of “LEECH! I HAVE A LEECH!!” which was quickly taken care of.¬† Much to my relief I never ended up with a single leech on me despite the complete absence of leech socks.

Physically it was quite strenuous because of how far up you had to reach and how much balance you needed to have, but in hindsight I felt as though overcoming the mental hurdles of climbing up a mountain unassisted was a much greater challenge. Needless to say about halfway to the peak we came across a gorgeous plateau which literally looked like something out of a dream. It was covered in reeds and cocooned by pine trees and overlooking the edge we were just above the clouds, it was genuinely a breathtaking sight.

Soon after taking a short break and climbing what felt like the narrowest part of the mountain we reached the peak, but there was another smaller boulder on top which the braver ones of us climbed. It was an amazing view and I was able to snap up some amazing pictures. All the while I was ignoring the dull ache in my legs and the fact that I was panting and out of breath; the view was simply too good to be true, it was one that was worth it all.

The climb down was a whole other fiasco if you will. Evan kept tripping up sending both himself and the guide down on multiple occasions, and somewhere on our way down I stepped on a rock as foothold which came completely loose and I nearly ended up falling off the mountain if not for the guide who grabbed me (he had Spiderman like reflexes there is no there is no other explanation for how he literally jumped about a meter to get me because he was tending to Evan earlier). It was slightly odd considering how unfazed I was I just stood up and kept walking without anything more than a few cuts and scrapes. I am eternally grateful however that nothing happened, but hey, no pain no gain right?

Regardless of all the ups and downs I had a lot of fun, conquered a new experience and overcame a few fears, while also getting some physically intensive activity in which all in all, I would call a successful outing. Even more so, it was a much needed break from the screen to¬† embrace nature, get some fresh air and enjoy the real world and even got to coach a few more children than I usually would before the lockdown was officially imposed afterwards! Majority of the other kids that came to Hanthana were my brother’s age meant that we had a massive open space to play in and that they were younger and willing to be coached aside for the worry that they were going to get bitten by a leach that is. Once the hard part of convincing them to come outside to play for a small while was done, I taught them correct passing techniques and other technicalities like throw ins, headers and corner kicks and finally ended our session with a small scrimmage and an opportunity for them to score at the goal, helping them boost their shooting confidence and accuracy.¬† At some point I even decided to play along too which was great because I had been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to get back on the field again for months on end and although it didn’t feel the same as playing competitively with my team, it was a nice game for a good laugh and some rewinding in my downtime, and I am happy to say that the kids came away with more knowledge about the game than what they started with!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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