Theological College of Lanka Exchange Programme 2016

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For three weeks in July, Bev Gibson, Claire Rawlinson and Ben Scrivens took part in the Queen’s / TCL exchange programme in Pilimathalawa, Sri Lanka. As part of the  exchange they visited a large number of Buddhist temples and spoke with several Buddhist monks enabling them to compare and contrast Christianity and Buddhism at a more personal level. They visited Hindu temples and spoke with a Hindu priest where they heard of close work between his temple and the local churches. They also took part in post-war ministry where they found an eagerness to move forward but a lack of practical engagement towards reconciliation. However, unless students actually told them, they were unable to differentiate between Sinhalese and Tamil, Methodist and Anglican, yet the differences between Tamil and  Sinhalese people are the biggest in Sri Lankan culture. One thing they did notice was a huge gender divide. Male and female students were in separate dormitories and there was very little space for men and women to mix socially. They found that students are also responsible for practical tasks on the site such as cooking, cleaning and gardening meaning not only are they continually busy but also this, Queen’s students felt, led to a ‘more wholesome’ community. They were impressed that environmental issues were at the heart of the Sri Lankan church and our students felt that a country such as Sri Lanka, with a much lower contribution to the environmental problem, is willing to act and respond more proactively on this issue. Definitely something we can all reflect upon ...