Taliya in Sri Lanka


As I write this, I can see the coastline of my home island, framed below by evergreen trees and, above, the Olympic mountains. The ocean has always been home to me, both literally and figuratively.

At the start of third year, I had no idea where I wanted to go for my placement. As a fairly indecisive, or – as I like to think of it – inclusively curious person, I was overwhelmed with interest in many places and peoples. I should have known that the universe would guide me from one coastline to another, rich in its own natural and cultural beauty.

Come September, I will fly from my little west coast island to a new coast on the island of Sri Lanka. There, I will begin a 9-month placement with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) in partnership with a local organization called the Institute for Development of Community Strengths (INDECOS). I will be working as a Gender Support Officer with INDECOS’ Women Entrepreneurship Program, which aims to support women entrepreneurs on the south coast who continue to face emotional and economic hardship after losing loved ones and livelihoods in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Through business development and microfinancing, INDECOS seeks to build women’s economic capacity and opportunity within the larger Tourism sector. As Gender Support Officer, my responsibilities will include leading capacity building workshops and trainings on gender equality as well as assisting in the development of the organization’s Gender Policy Implementation Strategy.

As I embark on this next journey, I am thrilled and honoured to be taking on a role that focuses on a cause I believe in to my core. In a world that continually underappreciates, objectifies, and oppresses the female spirit, body and mind, I believe it is a responsibility and privilege to support fellow p♀werful women in any way I can. Through my research and work with INDECOS, I look forward to learning about and investigating further the gendered dimensions of vulnerability to ‘natural’ disasters and economic (in)stability.

If you’d like to know more of my musings and meanderings in Sri Lanka, feel free to follow me on Instagram (@taliyasw) or look out for my blog (to be up and running soon)!

Peace and love y’all. See you next year!