Most people outside would not know that we have gap year English teachers from the UK helping out in school, and apart from the Upper School students he teaches, the rest of us might not know Mr. Ed Gomm too well.
We at the Junior Trinity College Literary Association thought why not interview him and see what he really feels about the College and his stay at Trinity. He joined us for an interesting interview and we were impressed by what he had to say:
How long have you been in Sri Lanka?
I arrived in Sri Lanka on the 2nd of September last year . So, about 9 months so far.
Which part of the UK are you from?
I am from a small little county in England called, ‘Rutland’. It’s right in the middle of Britain. It’s also called the ‘East Midlands’.
What do you think of Trinity? What got you interested to come here and teach?
I think teaching is a potential career path of myself. Instead of travelling after University, my mother asked, “Why not work and travel at the same time?” It so happened that the Principal is a close friend of ours. So, we got in touch with him, sent a few mails up and down and two months later here I am!
What do you think of the boys here at Trinity?
The boys here are nice but irritating at times like any other school boy, like I once was. But they all have ‘Hearts of Gold’. And, they are always willing to stick up for each other. That’s the reason why Trinitians have got a good reputation.
Like I said they are all lovely guys!
What do you think about the extension of school hours and the introduction of clubs and societies during the lunch break?
I think it’s important that clubs and societies have been introduced. My old school clubs and societies were very important for all round development. So there’s no point (in my eyes) being an excellent academic or an excellent sportsman, if you can’t then balance it out with other interests and passions. It won’t get you the distance you want to go in life.
And, school going on until 3 o’clock doesn’t bother me, because when I was your age sometimes I finished school at 6pm and started at 8am. So you guys complaining about 3 o’clock, you don’t know nothing!
How would you describe Prince Edward’s visit? Have you met Royalty before?
No, this was my first time I met royalty. It was a lovely occasion. Not very often do you get to meet Royalty and speak to them in person. And it was Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence, so all in all it was a lovely day.
Any sports you take an interest in?
I like lots of sports. I rate myself distinctly average in most sports apart from rugby and water polo, which are my two main sports. I joined the 1st XV team in their training sessions as well.
I like playing hockey and cricket, although I’m not very good at them. But I HATE football. One of the very few Englishmen who hates football.
You helped us with our drama The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes. Any other extra-curricular activities you take an interest in?
I haven’t actually participated in many extra-curricular activities other than sports. But if the opportunity arises I would love to take part, and the drama was fantastic. After I made corrections to your pronunciation and accent, I thought the drama really changed quite a lot. Very funny from the start to the end. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
How different is Trinity from the school you attended?
Very different. My school had 1,100 students. It was a mixed school. I joined in Year 6, so I studied there for 8 years. We also had ‘Saturday School’, an idea that most of you boys would hate. It was very different, but both equally good.
Which part of your stay did you enjoy the most?
So far, I’ve not liked the rainy season, limits what I can do. Obviously, living away from home, there’s been ups and downs. But, it’s definitely been a fine experience and wonderful memories. Very fortunate to travel around the country with the school, and able to help out the way I can. Lots of treasured memories that I can take back home.
Which section of Trinity attracted you the most?
When I first came here I was told to help in the Junior School, but due to my temperament and the way I am, personally I didn’t think I would be best utilized down there. Ever since then I’ve been teaching English in the Upper School.
I’ve loved coaching Rugby to the U12s. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that. But, I’m happy to go any way. It’s all lovely and extremely friendly.
We gained a lot from your stay here, what did you gain from working at College, anything you didn’t expect?
PATIENCE. I had the worst patience. Trinity has taught me to be a very patient guy. There’s a very special bond between everyone in this school which is lovely.
I’ve just grown up a lot and learnt to be more mature. Trinity has given me a lot of responsibilities and I’d like to think that I’ve left a good mark and an impact in the school.
How was the Hostel?
The hostel has got a giant screen tv, a jacuzzi…….. No, it doesn’t……….
Ha-ha, It’s been perfect. I’ve got a lovely comfy bed, a warm shower (which no Sri Lankan seems to like!) I’ve got a small fridge, a kettle, my cup of tea in the morning. It’s got everything I need.
Was it easy to settle down here in Sri Lanka? How long did it take?
Couple of weeks. There was the excitement. Being away from mum and dad, living on my own. Different country, different culture. That whole excitement of learning about a new culture. Being in a completely new environment I’ve never been before. So that was really exciting. But, suddenly you feel “Oh God, I miss home!”
So, I think after about a month or so I started to find my stride, luckily there has been amazing members of the staff, the boys – they really helped me settle in. To be honest it’s a constant process of settling in.
How has the food been compared to what you get in the UK? We heard about your first meal on the Chapel lawn and how you acted after you ate the kiribath, anything you can say about that?
So, a quick story.
Back in England, I was rubbish with spicy food. The spiciest food I could eat was a chilli flavoured packet of crisps.
After the Staff Chapel Service it was my first time meeting everyone. A lovely breakfast laid out, and they warned me that the kiribath and the sambol might be a bit spicy. I thought, I could do a ‘bit spicy’. I didn’t know what you guys meant as a ‘bit spicy’. So, I bit into what I thought was a piece of chicken, but it turned out to be a pepper. My face just turned red and I started to cry.
At this point they thought it would be nice to introduce me to the Vice Principal. So, with the greatest difficulty I put my words together and said, “Hi, I’m Ed.” But, I couldn’t say anything after that cause my mouth was on fire.
Luckily now, I’m good with spicy food. But, that was an absolutely horrible first experience of Sri Lankan food.
What is your favourite book?
Oh, my favourite book is ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay. It’s about a young South African boy. I would recommend it to any one.
Who is your favourite author?
C. J. Sansom. He is Scottish writer who wrote many historical crime novels.
How has Trinity treated you? Any regrets in coming to Trinity?
No, no regrets. I try to live life without regret. Like I said, the school has been very welcoming. If I needed help the staff never hesitated to do so. I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I hope the final two months would be a nice ‘Cherry on the Top of the Cake’ to round off what I think has been a fantastic year! Also, I hope the boys have enjoyed their time during my presence.
How has the weather treated you?
I still can’t cope. It’s far too hot sometimes. Anything over 27C or 28C is far too hot for me. The weather was a culture shock. As I stepped out of the plane in Colombo this wave of heat just smacked me in the face. I started sweating. So that was a wake up call for me to start changing my choice of clothing.
What do you think is lacking in Trinity?
The one thing I have noticed is that the boys are afraid to ask questions when they don’t understand. They should realize it’s okay not to know something. No one will make fun and laugh at them. So, I think they should lose their fear and stick their hand up if they don’t understand something.
When are you planning on leaving?
Term ends on the 3rd of August. I have a flight at 3 am on the 4th, so right after the term ends.
Any plans on coming back?
Well, unfortunately not to teach. But, I’d love to come back to Sri Lanka and visit all my friends here and see if any of the boys I met are still schooling.
As for the very last question, if you were to rate Trinity say from a scale of 1-10, how would you rate it?
An easy 10. Trinity has been very kind to me, although at times it has been tough. I can’t fault anything.
The Junior Trinity College Literary Association would like to thank Mr. Ed Gomm for taking time off his busy schedule to be with us and share his experience in Sri Lanka and, of course, at Trinity.
Interviewed by Abidh Jameel and Kevin Tennekoon (Junior Trinity College Literary Association).