The following is a blog written by Thilini Weerakkody

It’s 10:08 am and I am squished inside the back of a three-wheeler with two of my co-workers. We’re driving to our next home visit location to collect samples of the mother, their babies, the soil and the water. My coworkers are chatting, but I’ve lost their trail of conversation because I am wrapped up in the moving scene in front of me and the recognition that I am not in America.

It’s easy to forget that I am in a foreign country because the language and the people are so familiar to me in Sri Lanka, but as I sit here, staring out at the quickly shifting image of a beautiful, green tea plantation covering the mountainside and a giant brown cow accompanied by a thin, white crane feeding in a nearby paddy field, I can see how different this reality is from my home in Chapel Hill. The sun is warm against my skin even though it’s mid-November and the relaxing, cool wind flooding from the open sides of the three-wheeler is lifting and turning my hair, trapped in a ponytail, in wayward directions. My coworkers are giggling and with low rumble of the three-wheeler, the sounds of the lively street markets and the smell of gasoline and unnamed spices tinging the air, I suddenly realize that I am totally and completely content. I have people to talk to, beautiful sites to see, good health to enjoy and I just feel brilliant.

Initially, I had a rough time in Galle because of unfavorable circumstances and some of my days were wasted wishing for the next to come and go.  I lost my appreciation of sunny days and I let go of my love for the rains. I stopped looking for the moments of beauty such as these—where the grand scheme is irrelevant and the loveliness of the moment is appreciated. I forgot how to be happy.  

As I sit content staring out the window, promising myself to try to engage in more moments like these my coworker, Nishadi, turns to me and shoots me a look like we’re sharing a joke. I have no idea what she said, but I laugh anyway because she’s being caring and including me and that makes me smile. It’s not complicated, she’s just being nice to me and with her kindness, the beautiful weather, and the fantastic view, I simply feel happy.