MAJOR FAQ-SRI LANKA

ABOUT THE SRI LANKA INTERNSHIP PROGRAM (IN GENERAL)

How long has IFRE been working in Sri Lanka ? Whom do you work with? Where are you located? What are IFRE's programs?

IFRE has coordinated our internship programs in Sri Lanka since 2007. We work with orphanages, Buddhist monks in Piriven, a turtle conservation project and an elephant orphanage.

IFRE maintains a small office in Galle , a small tourist town famous for its beautiful beaches and nature. Our first week of Language and Cultural immersion is operated here. Galle offers many services: internet access, banks, general shopping and recreational areas. Most of our internship projects in Sri Lanka are offered within 20 km radius of our local office, which allows us the opportunity to offer immediate and direct assistance to our interns . Our elephant orphanage project is far from our local office in Galle .

APPLYING FOR THE SRI LANKA INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

How can I apply? What happens when I apply? Do you guarantee placement? How long does it take to receive confirmation?

Please read IFRE's 4-step application process:

• There are two options for applying to join our Sri Lanka internship programs. You can apply online ( http://www.ifrevolunteers.org/apply-now.php ) or you can simply download an application form, fill it out and mail it into IFRE's offices. Participants are required to submit their application with a $349 application fee plus the program fee for the number of weeks you choose. However to simply start the placement process, all that is needed upfront is a $200 deposit which will be deducted from the final invoice. This non-refundable deposit from you is required to validate and initiate the application process.

• Once IFRE receives your application, we immediately forward it to country coordinator for processing. The in-country coordinator reviews the application carefully to determine the most optimal project for you while you intern in Sri Lanka . Decisions pertaining to room and board are made at this time - depending on the location of the project. The vast majority of participants stay in fully immersed in-home stays.

• IFRE receives the details of the participants' placements from the in-country coordinator.

• The information is then passed on to the prospective participants along with a final invoice. Final payment is due six weeks prior to departure and, in expedited cases, as soon as possible. The placement details contain local contact information to be used when applying for a visa and/or to get in touch with the local staff and host family.

Preparation for your internship vacation in Sri Lanka should include reading about travel to Sri Lanka , immunization, acquiring a travel visa and booking airfare for your internship journey to Sri Lanka . If you face any problems, IFRE's Program Manager is always available for any assistance.

IMPORTANT: Once participants purchase airline tickets, we request flight information be forwarded to IFRE's U.S. office by fax or by email. Participants' flight information will then be forwarded to the in-country coordinator in Sri Lanka , who will then arrange an airport pick-up.

AIRPORT AND ARRIVAL INFORMATION

Who will meet me in airport? What should I do if I am delayed or miss my flight? When should I arrive?

Interns should arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colomboa , Sri Lanka . It is located in Katunayake, 35 km (22 miles) north of Colombo where a local staff member will meet you and transport you to your respective accommodation or project.

We ask that you fly with all your important documents, including your internship placement, passport, visa and vaccination booklet. Please have them accessible in case you are asked to produce them. Our interns join our program with a tourist visa. Interns do not need a long term or working visa.

If some sort of delay occurs, including flight delays or missed flights, contact our Sri Lanka office as soon as possible. We will obtain a intern's revised itinerary and reschedule pick-up. If interns should miss connecting with our staff at CMB, they should arrange a taxi and travel to the local office in Galle . This information is included in the intern's personal placement documents. Upon meeting the in-country representative at CMB, will transfer to the local office, project or accommodations.

Interns coming to Sri Lanka are advised to arrive one day before their program start date. The program fee will cover expenses beginning of the first day of the program (usually first or third Monday) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program and/or stay beyond the last day of the program, expenses will be the responsibility of the intern (usually $30 per day for room/food in hostel).

ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD

Where do I stay during one-week language program? Where do I stay during the internship program?

What do I eat? Do you accommodate special diet?

In Sri Lanka , all interns stay with well-screened host families ( in most situations this is with our in-country coordinator or local staffs). Our host families are socially respected and are well versed in the art of hosting international interns . Host families offer a safe home, private rooms (occasionally rooms will be shared with other same-gender interns ) and shared bathroom facilities with running water and a “local” style toilet. You receive three prepared meals per day. If you will be out of the house during lunch hour, you can request a lunch "to go" that you can take with you or eat out on your own. Host families provide typical meals that are traditional to Sri Lanka . Rooms are shared, as are bathroom and kitchen facilities. For a small additional fee, interns can opt to stay in a modest seaside motel. Please note this preference in the initial internship application.

Throughout the internship project, our local staff stays in contact with interns with either face-to-face visits or via email/telephone and interns have 24/7 access to our in-country staff. With longer placements, we visit our interns every two weeks (when possible) and interns are always welcome at the local office. If project placement is local, we request that interns stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone.

VISAS

IFRE requires interns to obtain a tourist visa before departing for Sri Lanka . Please contact the local Sri Lanka embassy to learn more about the proper steps to obtain a visa, visa fees and visa extensions. It is the sole responsibility of the intern to acquire your Sri Lankan tourist visa. Contact our American offices if there are questions beyond what the embassy can provide.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Being informed is your first defense against disease and safety risks. We recommend visiting some of the following websites for health and safety information:

WHO website for international travelers ( http://www.who.int )

General Health Tips for interns in Sri Lanka

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly or fizzy) drinks in sealed cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes. If safe drinks are not available, you can make tap or other water safer by both filtering through an "absolute 1 micron or less" filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. "Absolute 1 micron filters" can be found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Buy bottled water from respectable outlets to guard against upset stomach. Some of the better-known brands are Bisleri, Kinley and Aquafina. Make sure that the seal of the bottle is intact.
  • Watch out for spicy dishes, especially at the beginning of your trip. Avoid eating food from road-side stalls. Eat unpeeled fruits and avoid fresh salads, especially in small hotels. If you are forced to eat food at questionable locations, make sure the food is cooked and served hot.
  • Always use an insect repellent if you find yourself in a mosquito laden area. Although Sri Lanka is not a very mosquito infested country, and tends to be pretty average for a tropical country with some mosquitoes (and some mosquito borne illnesses).
  • If traveling in extreme heat, remember to drink enough water, wear hats, sunglasses & SPF/sunscreen. Beware of the health effects that the mid day sun may cause, most importantly SUN BURNS and DEHYDRATION.
  • Be wary of spicy dishes, especially at the beginning of your travels. Stall eating is generally safe and some of the best food in the country can be found at inexpensive market carts. Check the tables, eating utensils, the hands (as well as the personal hygiene of the cook) to decide if they pay enough attention to cleanliness.
  • Pharmacies or chemists are available in every little town and village and you can buy over the counter medication. If you need to see a doctor, ask for help from your in-country coordinator or your host family. The cost of visiting a doctor is low (less than a dollar) when compared to western countries.
  • In Sri Lanka , most modern medicines are available over the counter in drugstores, but it is wise with any prescription drugs you require, bring enough for the duration of the trip. It is advisable that you carry a small health kit, which should include remedy for upset stomachs, some antiseptic cream, mosquito repellant, sun block, band aids, etc.
VACCINATIONS

We use the Center for Disease Control traveler's health recommendations (www.cdc.gov.) Consult your travel doctor about current epidemics.

Entering Sri Lanka , vaccination against the Yellow Fever is legally required. Although, the requirement is only enforced on people traveling from infected areas like Central Africa and parts of South America, interns should consult a doctor regarding immunizing for Yellow Fever.

Other recommended immunizations for Sri Lanka travel include Diphtheria & Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Japanese B Encephalitis, Polio, Rabies, Tuberculosis and Typhoid. Interns should bring malaria medication in case of travel to a high-risk area. A basic personal first aid including bandages, medication and other should be packed.

MONEY MATTERS
What is the exchange rate? Where should I change my currency? Can I use my debit card or credit card? Should I bring traveler's checks?

Find the Exchange Rate of Sri Lanka Rupee (INR) http://www.xe.com/ucc/

The local currency is the Sri Lanka Rupee. Interns can exchange money upon arrival at Colombo International Airport . There are more than 10 banks in airport. Currency exchange transactions are monitored by the government and are based on the current day's foreign exchange rate. We suggest you change $200 in the beginning as you can change money in any bank (some banks are near to our office).

In Sri Lanka , credit card information is often stolen and used fraudulently just by paying with a credit card. For this reason, IFRE suggests cash and travelers checks to settle your bills. You will have trouble actually paying with traveler's checks, but you will be able to exchange them at local banks. Traveler's Checks are recommended as a safe way to carry money with you, make sure you write down the check numbers and contact information you need to cancel stolen checks. Different brands of traveler's checks work better in different countries so consult your local financial institution regarding which Traveler's Checks to bring to Sri Lanka .

You can also carry a debit/ATM card that can be used at ATM's to withdraw local currency. An ATM card is the best way of getting money. Vendors are available in major banks and department stores in the cities. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in some of the large stores and hotels in larger cities but not accepted in smaller cities.

How much money you bring depends on your personal spending habits. Thrifty people can get by on less than $10/day. Your budget should also include money to explore Sri Lanka in free time as well as for your personal use. A good rule of thumb for money management is the 1/3 method, bring 1/3 cash, 1/3 traveler's check and leave 1/3 of your money in your account - plus a credit card for emergencies.

FIELD SUPPORT AND SUPERVISION

How does IFRE help me when I am in the field? How can I maintain communication? Do you visit me?

Once your internship program begins, our local staff members stay in constant touch with you. We recommend that the interns stop by the office once a week, if they are staying/working in the local area, to provide feedback on their home stay and project. Many minor issues can be avoided with a just little extra communication before they develop into major issues. Projects have local staff members in addition to our in-country coordination staff. If your project is located a great distance from our offices, then our local staff communicates by either email and/or phone and visits every 2-4 weeks when possible. IFRE's in-country coordinator is available 24/7 via mobile phone.

We are available for you at the local office via email and phone for your entire trip. It is our job to make sure that you are safe and healthy.

COMMUNICATION

How do I communicate with my family? IFRE staffs? Is there internet?

We request that interns bring a mobile phone. Once you arrive in Sri Lanka , SIM cards can be exchanged and the phone used locally. This is the perfect way to stay in touch with family and IFRE office in Sri Lanka . Internet Café's are available in Galle . Details regarding communication and internet are provided in personal placement documents.

CLIMATE IN SRI LANKA

The internet offers current weather and forecasts for your destination:

Yahoo Weather forecast (  http://weather.yahoo.com  )

Weather channel (  www.weather.com )

Weather Underground (  http://www.worldweather.org/084/c00340.htm

Sri Lanka is in the equatorial and tropical zone and is influenced by the monsoons, allowing two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The difference of elevation also influences temperature variation; it is always hot in the lowland and it gets cooler when reaching the higher altitudes. The annually average temperature of the country as a whole varies from 26°C-28°C and dips down to 14°C-16°C in the Central Highlands. November to January is the coolest time of the year whereas February through May is the hottest period.

There are two monsoonal seasons in Sri Lanka , making its climate more complex and varied in different regions. In mid-May through October, the Southwest monsoon, called in Lankan language as “Yala season ", brings moisture from the Indian Ocean, resulting in the heavy rains in the south and west coasts as well as in the Central Highlands . Some windward slopes receive up to 250 centimeters of rain per month. In this period, the northern and eastern parts of the island are left drier with a little quantity of rainfall as lying in the leeside. When it comes to the Northeast monsoon (" Maha season " in Lankan) which lasts from December to March, the moisture brought from the Bay of Bengal causes downpours in the Northeast region of the island. The northeastern slopes of the mountains may be inundated with up to 125 centimeters of rains during these months.

Source: Sri Lanka Travel Guide

CLIMATE IN GALLE

Month

Mean Temperature o F

Mean Total Rainfall (mm)

Mean Number of Rain Days

Daily
Minimum

Daily
Maximum

 

 

 

Jan

73.0

84.2

85.1

8

Feb

73.4

84.2

70.5

6

Mar

75.0

85.8

111.3

9

Apr

76.6

87.1

206.8

12

May

77.9

87.1

290.4

16

Jun

77.4

85.6

188.2

17

Jul

76.6

84.2

163.2

16

Aug

76.5

83.5

185.9

16

Sep

76.5

83.1

255.8

18

Oct

75.4

83.3

322.7

18

Nov

74.3

83.7

321.0

16

Dec

73.6

84.4

176.9

12

ITEMS TO BRING

Most items for daily use are available in Sri Lanka at a cheaper price than in your home country. However, we suggest interns pack the following things.

• Camera
• Mobile phone (you can use mobile phone after changing SIM card)
• Sleeping bag
• Mosquito repellent
• Insect repellent
• SPF or sunscreen
• Reference books about Sri Lanka
• Sri Lanka Map
• Toiletries
• Personal first aid kit
• Flash light
• Electricity adopter/converter
• Sunglasses
• Footwear (for work and travel)
• Towel

What gift should I bring for my host family and/or project?

It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for your hosts. You are not required to do so, but if you choose to bring a gift keep it simple. We suggest a box of chocolates, a t-shirt with a hometown/country logo, pictures of your family and local post cards.

If you want to bring gifts for your project and if you are working for an orphanage or a school, please bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and construction paper pads, as well as games for the children to enjoy. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring enough for a number of children.

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