Meet our Team!

We are a group of twelve students, one teaching assistant, and one lively professor from Saint Mary's College of California. We had the absolute pleasure and honor of serving as volunteer English teachers for January 2016 in beautiful Sri Lanka. Under the guidance and generous hospitality of the Lasallian Brothers in both Colombo and Mannar, each of us had the opportunity of a lifetime to teach in communities of urban poverty. It is our hope to return to Sri Lanka in the near future to continue what we started and build community.

Take a look below and meet the members of our January Term Sri Lanka Saint Mary's team! 

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together," - African Proverb

 

 

 

 

Cynthia Ganote

Profession: University Professor, Sociology

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Schools: St. Joseph's College Grandpass, St. Xavier's Boy's College

Why you chose this trip: I took a class to Sri Lanka again because it's the most magical place I know. I wanted to share my relationships with the De La Salle Brothers, students, teachers, and principals with my own university students, knowing that relationships with these people would transform them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Columbus

Profession: Caretaker

Hometown: Oakland, CA

Schools: St. Xavier's Boy's College

Why you chose this trip: I took professor Ganote's Sri Lanka virtual immersion course in jam term 2012 and have wanted to go to Sri Lanka ever since; to help in any way I can, to experience a different way of life, to be completely submersed in a culture that is not my own, and to try to make this world a better place. To have the opportunity to not only go on this trip, but also to be professor Ganote's teaching assistant, was a dream come true. It was an honor to work with her and to work with the students and have this chance of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Finn

Major: Technical Theater & English Double Major

Hometown: Dublin, CA

Schools: St. Joseph's College Grandpass, St. Xavier's Boys College

Why you chose this trip: I chose this trip for a few different reasons: 1). I have never been out of the country before, and really wanted to push myself to go somewhere where I may never get the chance to go again.  2. I have a strong passion for teaching, and really wanted to learn from the Brothers about how they were dedicating their life to education and how that was reflected in their schools (despite the lack of resources). 3. I had already taken several classes with Ganote, and knew that I would love taking another!

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Bravo

Major: Business-Marketing

Hometown: Hayward, CA

Schools: Henamulla Preschool, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I chose this trip because of Sri Lanka’s rich history and culture. I wanted to go on a trip where I could interact with the people of the country so that I could have an authentic and personal experience during my visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megan Hansen

Major: Liberal & Civic Studies (Education Track), Montessori Thought Minor

Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia

Schools: LCES Preschool, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: Since moving to the U.S. 3 ½ years ago, I always regretted not having seen more of Asia while I still lived on that side of the hemisphere. In the future, I hope to have a classroom of my own and eventually move overseas. This trip seemed to be the perfect opportunity for me to experience a culture rich in history and “rasa” (flavor), as well as a chance for me to challenge myself in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabby Peterson

Major: Sociology, Communication Minor

Hometown: Sonoma, CA

Schools: English Medium School (Colombo), St. Xavier's Boy's College

Why you chose this trip: I have wanted to go to Sri Lanka since Sophomore year at SMC. I heard about the trip, went to an information session, and knew that if I were going to have one chance to travel in my life, this would be what I would love to do. I wanted something totally different from the US. I wanted to help people, make great connections, and soak in the culture that is Sri Lanka. It has been  exactly what I expected/ dreamed for and also wonderfully unpredictable.

 

 

 

 

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Andee McKenzie

Major: Communication, Creative Writing Minor

Hometown: Burlingame, CA

Schools: St. Benedict's College Colombo, St. Xavier's Boy's College

Why you chose this trip: I chose this trip because I am in love with the "light bulb" moment. To be a part of that period of time when someone goes from the dark of not knowing to the light of knowing is the greatest gift you can ever hope to witness. In short, I chose this trip to watch inspiration come alive and it sure as heck did. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayla Leduc

Major: Sociology, Minor Psychology

Hometown: Benecia, CA

Schools: De La Salle Junction Preschool, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I chose this trip for many reasons, but most importantly I chose it because it sparked my interest and love for teaching and I would be completely immersed in a new culture that I knew nothing about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reuben Delay

Major: Integral Liberal Arts

Hometown: Friday Harbor, WA

Schools: St. Joseph's College Grandpass, St. Xavier's Boys College

Why you chose this trip: I chose this trip because the recent sociopolitical history in the aftermath of the civil war was so fresh. The opportunity to be a part of that history and to volunteer our educational service to a good cause was rewarding and (hopefully) mutually beneficial. An added bonus was that I was able to experience the country my father was born in, and meet quite a few relatives.

 

 

 

 

 

Kathyrn Garlick

Major: Kinesiology, Music Minor

Hometown: Oakland, CA

Schools: Henamulla Preschool, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I wanted to challenge myself by venturing out to a country that was completely different from my own. I also have experience teaching children and wanted to spend my Jan term giving back to others, expecting nothing in return. I also never got the chance to "study abroad" and thought this trip would be that wonderful chance :) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Muir

Major: English with Creative Writing Emphasis

Hometown: South Pasadena, CA

Schools: LCES Preschool, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I chose to come to Sri Lanka because I thought it was the perfect fit for what I want to do after college, which is becoming a teacher. I never knew a lot about Sri Lanka, so I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about the history of Sri Lanka and see the culture. Going on this trip will gave me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and try something different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Mendoza

Major: English

Hometown: Portland, OR

Schools: St. Benedict's College Colombo, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I chose this trip because I wanted to do a service based trip, and also wanted to do something out of my comfort zone in a place and type of trip I could only experience in this class type of setting. I didn’t know much about Sri Lanka before choosing this trip and I thought the best way to really learn about it would be by being immersed in its country and culture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy Alanzalon

Major: Economics

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Schools: English Medium School (Colombo), English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I wanted to serve in Sri Lanka because I wanted more experience outside of the city. My parents are immigrants from Southeast Asia and I have always wondered about how they lived before settling in the states. I graduate in May and have no idea what I am doing with my life nor how I am going to go about living it. My heart is not in U.S. corporate or government affairs. I want to travel the world and share my life with other people. I believe this is why Sri Lanka was a perfect fit for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Courtney Kroll

Major: Business Marketing

Hometown: Encinitas, CA

Schools: De La Salle Junction Preschool, English Medium School (Mannar)

Why you chose this trip: I chose to come to Sri Lanka, to immerse myself in a completely unfamiliar culture, and make connections and friendships I would have never sought out originally. I also wanted to teach and serve to students who were excited and eager to learn the English language.