Spirituality and Peacemaking through Community
It is rare to be given the opportunity to engage in rural life and truly experience a culture 3,000 years in the making. Sri Lanka offers the visual splendor of tropical beauty and beaches, contrasted with a mushrooming urban economy experiencing all the challenges of exponential growth. Meanwhile the rural villages seem to live in the world of a century ago.
During your journey you will participate with Via International’s partner Sarvodaya in Shramadana (share the work) experiences working side by side with village residents in community-defined projects to support resettlement, reconciliation, and reconstruction efforts in areas recovering from the effects of war. Discussions will center around consensus building and inner work.
You will learn about a nation-wide effort to support human and village development that has, against all odds, survived and thrived for 50 years. In order to place yourself in this unique context, visits will be made to specific sites that will enhance your understanding of the history, Gandhian principles, and culture of Sri Lanka.
After sufficient rest to accommodate for the time change, a presentation is provided by the leadership of Sarvodaya, Via’s partner organization. Sarvodaya works in 15,000 of Sri Lanka’s rural villages organizing communities in a process of self-development that now spans the entire country. This community development methodology has global implications and can be adapted for implementation in any location in the world.
We will then visit Sarvodaya in action in a rural village setting. It is in this context you will participate in a community-defined project such as improving a school or community health center. Here you will have the opportunity to engage in a homestay experience. In the months before your arrival, a specific village and host families will be identified to facilitate your stay, providing for a safe and immersive experience.
You may be staying with one family and some may not have running water or speak English. These are the moments when we are all pushed beyond what is familiar, and when we need our mindfulness practices the most! Alternatively, modest Sarvodaya regional centers or local hotels will provide accommodation.
Sufficient time will be provided to reflect and assimilate the village experience before heading on to visit several UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Temple of the Tooth, Sigiriya Rock, and Dambulla Cave. Also incorporated into the itinerary will be visits to the Elephant Orphanage and the beautiful beaches of southeast Asia.
Prior to departure, an overnight at the Sarvodaya Peace Center is a tradition, in order to steep in the meditative space and incorporate the learning from the journey.
Loyola University Maryland
"l highly recommend Via International as a great host agency for meaningful immersion programs, both domestic and international. They are rooted in the community with years of experience and relationships, organized and offer great educational input for the participants. They have everything you need fora comprehensive experience.
Andrea Coicochea, Assistant Director International Immersions
The experience of an immersion program impacts post-travel
Discover the political, religious, and cultural constructions of community and develop a global lens for comparison.
Analyze the community and spiritual aspects of social movement in order to identify areas of support and challenge.
Participate in community-defined service projects supporting education facilities and health centers.
Learn effective leadership approaches for creating mindful social movements to mobilize community change.
Understand how leadership is exercised within Sarvodaya in alignment with Gandhian and Buddhist thought.