St John’s College pupils enjoy eye-opening trip to Sri Lanka

Imogen Garrett with a boy from the Diyagal Boys' Town Orphanage.
Imogen Garrett with a boy from the Diyagal Boys' Town Orphanage.
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Secondary school pupils from St John’s College in Southsea have returned from an eye-opening trip to Sri Lanka.

During the two-week trip, pupils supported local projects and helped disadvantaged children living in Colombo.

The pupils spent their time at the Diyagal Boys’ Town Orphanage where they painted the dining room and the orphanage’s large conference hall, where outsiders gather to meet the boys to discuss work opportunities.

When they were not volunteering, pupils took the chance to experience another side of Sri Lankan culture.

They visited the Buddhist temple in Kandy, Colombo, fed milk to baby elephants at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage, and explored the local markets on tuk-tuks.

Pupils were based at De Mazenod College in Colombo, which St John’s has kept a strong connection with for the past few years as they were both founded by the De La Salle brothers.

The trip organiser was Jane Turner, who is head of chaplaincy at St John’s and is also the head of the religious studies department.

Each night, the students returned to De Mazenod College to interact with the pupils there.

They shared the differences between their cultures, played games, and enjoyed lots of different traditional curries.

On their fifth day, they took part in the college’s cultural celebration, where the 
St John’s group performed in front of 
their new friends and other De Mazenod pupils.

One of the De Mazenod staff members even gave the Southsea students beautiful Sri Lankan shirts and dresses which she had handmade.

Year 11 pupils emailed their school whilst abroad and said: ‘One of the highlights was taking a Polaroid of us with the children, then watching their fascination as the picture developed, and seeing their happiness as we gave them the pictures to keep.

‘The visit has shown us just how privileged we are.’