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Old 10-07-14, 06:27 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default A former music teacher turned travel organiser June Boralessa Greiner,

From: RG <ruwan_gunasena98@yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:13 PM

This is an old article published in the Times
Spreading the word
By Carol Aloysius
A former music teacher turned travel organiser is currently trying to put Sri Lanka on the world map as a cultural destination.
June Boralessa Greiner, who has been domiciled in Germany since 1981, has since 1994 brought several groups of German tourists to Sri Lanka. “They are not the usual tourists who come here to escape the cold winter and spend their time sunbathing and relaxing on our golden beaches. These people are ‘culture vultures’, who want to soak up our rich cultural traditions, and see at first hand, the customs, habits and way of life of the people in this country,” says June. “They thus see a slice of life that ordinary tourists do not see: namely, rural Sri Lanka where age-old customs and traditions are very much alive.”
Their first exposure to Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage starts no sooner they disembark the plane, when they are greeted by Kandyan dancers and garlanded by a bevy of girls in cloth and jacket. When they leave the city, instead of heading for the beaches as most tourists do, they are taken to the ruined cities, such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, where they spend a great deal of time studying the ancient cultural heritage of this country. Many of them take down copious notes as our guide tells them about the history of each ruin. They’re also taken to remote areas to see at first hand how simple village folk live, work and relax.
Temples, kovils, kamhalas, where they get to see a blacksmith at work, or a potter at his wheel, as well as handicrafts being turned out in village homes – these are some of the rare insights they get – thanks to the well thought out programme.
At the Kandalama hotel, which is a favourite destination, visitors see how this eco-friendly hotel recycles its waste to make bio gas and compost for plants. They are also taken on a tour around the kitchen, which normal tourists rarely see.
Now on holiday visiting relatives, June says that while she has never advertised her services, “most of my groups consist of those who have heard of my tours by word of mouth, from those who have come with me and returned satisfied.” Since the groups are small, between 15 and 25, June says it is easy to manage them and cater to each person. Prior to bringing them here, she usually briefs them about Sri Lanka, showing them clips and video shows of the country. She also gives them their first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine by inviting them for a typical Sri Lankan meal.
Organising cultural tours to put Sri Lanka on the world tourist map is not the only interest this versatile travel organiser has for visiting her motherland. She is also personally involved with helping the cricket team at the Dambulla Maha Vidyalaya to obtain bats, balls and the usual paraphernalia needed by this underprivileged school. As she explains, her interest began as a result of a project mooted by Mr. Sherifdeen, the General Manager of the hotel, who also coaches the team. She is also involved in the ‘Ebenezer House’ orphanage in Mount Lavinia, where her clients have adopted some of the children and sponsor their education.
A past pupil of Methodist College, June’s first interest was music. On leaving school, she joined the staff of S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia as a music teacher, and then became the programme organiser for the Western music channel at the SLBC, later moving on to the German Cultural Institute as its PRO. It was here that she met her future husband, then the Director of the Institute, Dr. Dietrich Greiner.
The first year she spent in Germany, where the couple moved to in 1981, was “one of my worst,” she recalls. “I was 45 years old at the time, and for the first time in my life I was not working. I lived in a small town about 700 km from Berlin. I was lonely and I knew no one. I then decided to join a language institute where I taught English, and later began cookery classes, demonstrating typical Sri Lanka cuisine to my German students.”
“It was while doing this work that I was encouraged by my students to venture into this present field. I used my cookery classes as an opportunity to promote Sri Lanka’s culture. Many of my students expressed their desire to see our cultural heritage at first hand and urged me to arrange a tour for this purpose. It was this that gave me the idea of starting these study tours,” she says. She works with Aitken Spence when arranging these tours.
Although domiciled in Germany for the past 20 years, June says she has never forgotten her motherland. After the tsunami, she organised a Sri Lank Abend – a dinner, held at the Goethe Institute in the town she lived, in which some of her best students participated, to raise funds for tsunami victims.
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Last edited by sriyanj; 29-04-15 at 11:04 PM.
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