Internship story by Vivien Yeo (2018)
My name is Vivien Yeo and I would like to share my three-month internship journey with WWF-Malaysia in Sarawak. I am a final year student from University Malaysia Terengganu majoring in Marine Science. I was fortunate to be accepted to work under the Freshwater Management and Security team despite having somewhat dissimilar study background. The project I was involved in focused on the conservation of Irrawaddy dolphins and mangroves along the Rajang-Belawai-Paloh delta area situated in Tanjung Manis district, Sarawak which is 40 minutes away from the capital of Sarawak by flight.
My role in the project was to assist in conducting questionnaire survey regarding the perception of the communities towards Irrawaddy dolphins, mangroves and fish distribution in their area along with other interns and staff. After completing the survey, I have helped in analyzing the questionnaire data where the results and information gathered will be shared with decision makers for better management of the area. Another major event that I have involved in was to help out with the awareness programme regarding the conservation of mangroves, Irrawaddy dolphins and other wildlife to share with the villagers of Tanjung Manis on the importance of conserving their natural heritage.
Throughout my internship, I have travelled to Tanjung Manis thrice. The first trip was to meet up with the local enumerators and the district officer regarding the survey as well as to explore the surroundings of Belawai before conducting the actual survey. During this trip, a boat tour was also arranged for my team and I to cruise along the river in Belawai to enjoy the scenery of mangroves and to look for Irrawaddy dolphins. This was the trip that made me appreciate the beauty of nature even more. Growing up in an urban city in Sarawak, I have never set foot in other rural parts of Sarawak. This internship has given me the opportunity to explore a different part of Sarawak, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and simply enjoy the simplicity of life. I was truly mesmerized by the aesthetic of vibrant sunset in Belawai.
The second trip was to conduct the community perception survey in Belawai. This was the trip that has made me learn the importance of team work and determination. During the survey, I was declined several times by the villagers but that did not stop me from completing this task. My fellow interns and colleagues have also given me lots of encouragement as well. This task has also helped to boost my confidence in communicating with people and to polish my communication skills.
During the last trip, I was assigned to be a facilitator for an awareness programme in Belawai. Despite brief interaction with the local communities, I have come to understand their level of awareness and the programme do help them to gain knowledge on the importance of mangrove ecosystem. In addition, I have gained insights regarding the challenges in conservation work. It really takes a lot of effort to work well with other organisations as well as stakeholders to achieve what is best for conserving the environment.
Working with WWF-Malaysia is not just merely an experience. It is an experience where friendships were formed; knowledge was gained and memories were created. Having given the opportunity to work with the Panda team has been a privileged and I am extremely grateful for this experience.