Paul Ellmes

Title
Founder / CEO

What is your favorite travel memory?

I began travelling at 16, when I joined the merchant navy, and have been to every continent bar Antarctica and Australasia.

Overall, the most memorable parts of each journey are the new experiences, the characters - both the many friendly and welcoming people and the obligatory rogue - and the culture and history that open your eyes to our varied, but shared world.

My most recent experiences aside from Sri Lanka have been in the Middle East, where people have been remarkably friendly. Jordan in particular was quite magical, as it encapsulated such diversity and friendliness.

I remember Jane being mobbed in Jerash by a group of 20 young women who all wanted a group photo with her, and in the same place, boys and girls in the Roman centre dancing together to music form a big stereo blasting out Jordanian music.

Perhaps the greatest contrast we have seen has been between SE Asia's obvious lack of wildlife and the relatively huge amount still in Sri Lanka - we saw more here in 1 week in 2014, than in 10 weeks in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia the previous year.

This was one of the many factors that led us to work in Sri Lanka when we were asked to set up an education center here in Anuradhapura by the government.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Through various unplanned encounters, Jane and I we were invited by the government to begin an education company here, which has led to us work with teachers and schools to upskill teachers of English, and bring English to life in schools, in orphanages, as well as in villages.

As a result, we are also involved in development work and conservation, and so we began a volunteering company to offer these incredible opportunities to people to experience Sri Lanka and to work on government partnered projects that will not only look great on your CV, but will also change lives.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

That they had such a great time, and wanted to return, and that the experience had left an indelible mark on them is the common thread I hear.

Whether this may be in learning new skills they'd like to carry on with, or in being touched through seeing how people with seemingly so little to western eyes, appear to have so much, to be so happy, and to be so generous with their time and money.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would definitely go on our school education program, which is for anyone who speaks English well - whether you are professional teachers, retired teachers, aspiring to teach, or those who simply want to coach and talk and work in a structured and well supported environment for an experience like no other. Help in the classroom, help at break time, play and coach sports, arts and drama - through English.

The staff and children are so welcoming, and have such a great desire to work with others to learn English and to develop their confidence. With this experience, outside the school, you could work teaching and coaching in one of the world's leading orphanage charities.

This program with the government, and with us as a non-profit will really support your CV.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are a UK non-profit education and development volunteering company based in Sri Lanka, working in partnership with the Sri Lankan government, and universities.

We are small enough to plan your experience to suit you, and large enough to deliver fantastic experiences. This means that we are on hand to support you, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

We operate our own accommodation, and we can assure you that you will not be on your own. Our prices reflect the fact that we want you to join us and be committed to what we do, and we believe that you will find them to be incredibly good value for money.

Your certificates and letters of commendation will reflect the professional nature of your volunteering, as you will be working directly in government and local government positions.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Ensuring that everything we do, we do as well we possibly can, for all involved.