Carlo teaching young monk in Sri Lanka

Carlo volunteered with us back in 2018, choosing the Teaching program in Sri Lanka. His time was split between teaching middle school students near Colombo, and teaching young monks at a Buddhist temple. Read on to see how he continues to use the skills he gained through this experience back home in Italy.

WHAT WAS YOUR PLACEMENT LIKE?

“I took part in the teaching activity, and I split time between a group of young monks at a Buddhist temple and a class of middle school students in a local rural school in the outskirts of Colombo, to whom I would teach basic English grammar through exercises and games. I really enjoyed preparing lessons and cooperating with other volunteers and living this opportunity to the fullest.

First of all, monk teaching has really been a huge experience, I mean, where else could you do something close to that? I would go every morning to the temple by tuk tuk (of course), then, after taking my slippers off, we set up desks, chairs and a whitebord. Finally, the crazy bunch would arrive and we’d start. I’d have 10-15 minutes of lectures I had previously prepared – about basic English grammar mostly – then we would give them some exercises to do. Carlo in Sri Lanka with elephants in the background
 
 
 
 

The hardest part was to keep them focused! It happened many times that we wound up playing cricket or chasing each other. The kids were 12-17 years old, and despite their religious aspect, they were wild! The best thing though was that, in a month’s time, we built a bond and a relationship, so when I left they hugged me and took lots of pictures – also thanks to the pudding I had prepared for them, I think. It was a unique experience, which companies always ask me about!”

WHAT WERE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR EXPERIENCE?

“What I particularly enjoyed during my time in Sri Lanka was backpacking on the weekends. I would plan my trips in my free time during the week, then pack light and live the adventure. I saw some beautiful, pristine places and it taught me to organize and recognize the essential.”

Carlo on a hike in Sri Lanka

WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

“I discovered a culture and a part of the world completely new and unknown to me. I faced situations – the teaching experience for instance – thanks to which I’ve developed many skills. For example, one day I was at the school and 20+ kids were attending but, somehow, I was alone. For two hours I had to manage a class of kids who spoke a different language, were undergoing puberty and it was the middle of August – so, really hot! It really was challenging, but, unexpectedly, we made it through and they remained focused for the main part of the lesson. It was definitely a first for me and, of course, an impactful experience.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?

“Now I’m back in Italy, and finishing my studies with all these added values. Very often people ask me about Sri Lanka and I get to present what I’ve been doing to other students. And, of course, I’m searching for new opportunities to travel the world; in particular I’d love to go to Africa (and why not?) for another volunteering experience.”

 

If you’re inspired by Carlo’s experience teaching monks, check out our Teaching project in Nepal at Buddhist Monasteries, or any of our other great international volunteering projects and apply! We’d love to work with you to arrange a skill-building, rewarding volunteer program abroad where you can make a real impact and experience true transformation.
 
Read more stories from amazing World Endeavors alumni here.