Teaching in Sri Lanka by Claire Fuller
Claire has been working at Molligoda Monastery near Wadduwa, teaching English to young monks.
To begin with, I was naturally apprehensive about teaching but my first few classes were so much fun. The younger monks have an incredibly short attention span so I learnt quickly that games are best. I got to know their individual characters very quickly as they are not at all shy.
Of course, they do find pronouncing words hard - it took me a good three minutes to figure out. They were trying to say "kind", but because of the speed at which they speak, the only way which I can explain it is by saying "kinder egg". Kind was said with a soft 'i', we all had a good laugh about it though. The older monks are such fun, they can speak good, clear English and if I speak slowly they can understand a surprising amount. They have a great sense of humour and they understand jokes - which make the lessons fly by as they certainly understand anything rude!
It is fascinating to listen to them and see how they live their lives as monks. I have only been at the temple for a short time but I have loved every minute, they are so kind and grateful. I am so glad that I was placed there because I never though I would enjoy it so much. And I now totally love all the monks. Yes, teaching a class of 10-14 year olds and 14-20 years olds who have dedicated their teen years to Buddha, is one of the most worthwhile, rewarding and delightful things I have done.
Disciplining the younger monks is a nightmare but we have managed to find respect for one another, so the paper aeroplane throwing and having to separate the monks has stopped, but their characters still shine through. It is hard to leave on time at the end of the day, as they do want to talk all day and if only I could count how many personal questions I am asked. It is a pure joy to be with them and they find it hilarious to teach me words which I will never be able to say correctly!