Sunday, September 19, 2010
Being a longterm intern (6 months) with GVI includes quite a lot. The overall program means that I spend 10 weeks at basecamp in the jungle as a volunteer, helping conduct research projects and teaching English in local communities. Then I spend 2 weeks living in Otavalo with a host family, taking a total of 40hrs of one on one Spanish classes. I then have a little bit of time off, almost a week, before going to my work placement for the remaining ten weeks. GVI has set up different work placement opportunities with local partnership organizations. One option is going to Hector´s Island, who is a well known Ecuadorian guide who has setup a refuge island for monkeys known as Sumak Allpa. Another option is to work at the Yachana Technical High School on the same reserve where basecamp is, but is located about 20mins up river near the ecolodge. The final option for work placement that GVI offers its interns is a position as a member of staff with GVI.
Interns meet weekly with a staff mentor in order to reflect on self progress and professional development. As interns, despite being volunteers for ten weeks like everyone else, we are expected to help around basecamp more, volunteer to go on extra surveys, and take a leadership initiative in helping other volunteers, particularly new ones, acclimate to basecamp life. So through taking these initiatives, staff give feedback on areas of excellence that interns have but also areas for improvement. My staff mentor has been Jenn, a fellow Canadian, who has an amazing knowledge on birds, but particularly birds of prey. I have enjoyed meeting with her a lot, and I have really gained a lot from our meetings and reflections. She has encouraged me and has helped me finding ways of taking more initiative on basecamp.
I have really enjoyed conducting the variety of surveys, interacting with members of staff and volunteers, and the general life of living at basecamp. GVI looks at each intern´s best opportunity in placement, to make a compatible workplacement. So, I was very happy when I got my work placement with GVI as a member of staff. The other two longterm interns, Iggy and Sam, will be going to Hector´s Island and helping with community programs and monkey research over the next ten weeks, which is an amazing opportunity. I will be returning to the jungle in the next couple weeks, with a new group of volunteers but in a new position. I will share a room in the staff cabin with another member of staff, Caroline. I will lead the volunteers out on surveys, hopefully without getting lost, I will take on new responsibilites with helping basecamp on food orders and taking care of other basic needs, and I will be a source of information about local tropical habitat and species. So, needless to say, I am loving my time in Otavalo right now, but I am ready to be back in the jungle again!