Volunteer in Asia
The work at the panda base wasn’t very hard, but it was extremely rewarding. I feel so grateful to have had this once in a lifetime experience, getting up close and personal with the pandas, learning their different personalities, and helping with their conservation. We were also part of an amazing group of volunteers, united by a love of pandas. We all got on really well and generally just had a great time together, both on and off the panda base. I will miss those crazies all most as much as I will miss my adorable new panda friends!
After becoming acquainted with our panda keeper and pandas, we started our first job. It was necessary to clean the cage, removing the bamboo leaves and other garbage. After that, we started to clean their enclosures... In addition, we fed the pandas twice a day with carrot and special bread (named ”panda cake”), and sometimes apples.
Our time at turtle camp was capped off by releasing two of ‘our’ turtles into the sea to begin their journey as independent turtles! Hopefully, the love and care provided at the turtle project will ensure these turtles have a greater chance of survival in the big, wide, scary ocean. Go well, little turtle!
The greatest aspects of the project are two. First of all, you really feel useful as local coordinators need our help to take care of all turtles as they are not enough to do the job alone. Second, compared to Ubud, there are less volunteers (around 25, even if they told us that during the high season it can go up to 70). As you are not a lot, no small groups are done; we are all part of a big group, or even better a big family. You really get close to volunteers and to coordinators and cookers.
Friday’s are a bit different because that’s test day, the children LOVE this though, as they get to see what they’ve learnt through the week and after an hour or so of tests are free to play. One Friday it was so hot we all ran through a fence at the back of the school and jumped in to a huge pond to cool off. All the kids who could swim were jumping in with us and the ones who couldn’t we were hugging and splashing.
Working in Thailand was one of the best experiences of my life. The children were so incredibly sweet and eager to learn. The younger children barely knew any English so we had to find ways to communicate with them through pictures and hand motions. After this experience, I really think anyone can learn to be a teacher!
My second day on the island is when I got to meet and start working with the turtles – which was great! Our main tasks were emptying and refilling the tanks and feeding and numbering the turtles, but once we also had to measure and weigh all of the turtles too. Once a week we also had to scrub all of the tanks to keep them clean which takes a whole day!
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