PHOTOS: Sri Lankan trip offers James Sheahan students fresh perspective

FIFTEEN students and three teachers from James Sheahan Catholic High School have spent the last two weeks travelling in Sri Lanka.

The group landed in Colombo, staying with a De La Salle Catholic community before travelling to Mannar via Kandy.

Whilst admiring the beautiful sights of Kandy, in the central mountainous area of Sri Lanka, the students visited the famous Kandy Botanic Gardens and Buddha's Tooth Temple.

"This was a wonderful learning experience for the students, with the group learning about Sri Lankan culture and Buddhism," teacher Peter Meers said.

Once the group travelled to Mannar, a town in the far northwest of the country, the students spent a week in schools run by the De La Salle Brothers, teaching English, maths, drama and music using iPads, as well as donating thousands of dollars raised through fundraising during the past year.

Children's Day was celebrated with the children at the school,, which included dancing with teachers and students under a very hot sun to traditional Tamil music.

Mr Meers said the team lived in "very basic" conditions, including becoming used to cold showers and extremely hot, arid conditions.

"They witnessed the amazing contribution being made by the brothers to education and the care of children in this poor, predominantly Tamil, area of Sri Lanka," he said.

After leaving Mannar, the students travelled to Galle, where they visited a tea plantation and learned about its role as a major export product for the country as well as the influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and English in past centuries.

The trip included a visit to conservation parks where they met elephants and turtles and observed the work done by volunteers to ensure the long-term survival of these species.

"The trip has given the students a powerful insight into social justice and the power of humans in supporting one another and Earth's fragile environment and inhabitants," Mr Meers said.