On June 9, the group of 13 candidates accompanied Sujitha Miranda and the Sri Lankan team in the opening ceremony of the first Bookbridge Learning Center in this Asian country, with the aim of making a difference in a rural region famous for its tea plantations.
Sujitha Miranda, our local hero in Sri Lanka, has a dream: offering equal opportunities to the children and youngsters of Bandarawela and its surrondings, a rural region located in the Uva province. Together with her, the GMP+3 team has been working over the last five months in order to make this dream come true.
Taking into account the outdated educational system and the highly competitive environment, we had to develop a different value proposition. And we found it: qualitative education, based on practical knowledge and modern teaching methods, affordable for everyone willing to learn. The offering goes from English and IT for all ages to the new “Find yourself” course, with focus on the self-development of the young school leavers. In addition, a complete library will provide the community with access to English books.
On June the 5th, the team took a train from Colombo to Bandarawela. A 10 hours trip which meant not only an opportunity to enjoy the impressive landscape, but also to start putting some ideas in order.
Just arrived in Bandarawela, we run to the learning center. First emotions arouse. Happy to meet Sujitha and the team personally, impressed by the work done on the building – which the previous week had only floor and walls – although concerned as well… Would this be enough for the opening ceremony? Three intense days upfront to get it ready!!
In this little time, many things occurred: street marketing, school visits, media contacts, appointments with local companies to get the right partners on board, and day and night work on the building; we even had time for some intercultural experiences… Many lessons about entrepreneurship were learnt as well in practice: stretching very (very) much our comfort zone, dealing with emotions and disappointments – like when we knew that the books would not arrive on time – and staying flexible, among others.
Finally, the opening day arrived. Dressed in the traditional sarong, we welcomed more than 70 attendants, including Mr. Mihimal Munasinghe – Secretary to Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure – the main representatives of the Sri Lanka Scouts Association, TV and press journalists, other stakeholders, school principals and, of course, the children.
At the end of the day, Skills Learning Center achieved the first subscriptions and even a sponsorship. And by the time this post is being published, the books have already arrived. Great success for the first Bookbridge learning center in Sri Lanka!!
From a professional and personal point of view, this has been a lifetime experience for all of us. As our colleague Sima, from GMP3, mentioned after the ceremony: “We are not longer the European and the Sri Lankan teams; we have become one team.”
This article was written by GMP+3 Candidate Maria Pastor. Thank you, Maria!