The EXCEL programme to Chek Jawa has been a real eye-opener for me. Although I have been to Pulau Ubin when I was younger, this was different than my past experiences. Perhaps because as Singapore continues to develop rapidly, Pulau Ubin looks even more rugged and different in comparison, or perhaps because of the commentary by Ria along the way, I saw it in a different light, not just a holiday destination but a place brimming with history. Not only is Chek Jawa’s marine life worth preserving, its wonderful sea view that cannot be found in Singapore, coupled with a serene environment that will surely give visitors a sense of release and escape from the hustle bustle of city life is to me also something to be cherished.
This trip has also taught me a lot about the skills necessary for being a good guide. It is important in leadership, as I feel that guides are leaders in their own right - pioneering others to discovering the beauty in nature, and leading in environmental conservation. Although highly overlooked, their guiding skills should be admired and many of the things we learnt from them were relevant to our development as leaders. Firstly, instead of playing a critical role on these trips, as I formerly thought was so, I realized that the guides are actually a secondary feature, there to facilitate and ensure that the visitors have a fun learning experience. I feel that it is applicable to council, where we have to keep in mind that the population we are catering to is the main stakeholder in our events. Although we are important, their enjoyment is our main concern and our purpose and focus is to facilitate that.
I also learnt that it is important to know how and what to say to people, to get them to listen to you. What is said is often not as important as how it is being said, since in the end, our objective is to ensure that people enjoy their experience, bring back good memories and feel more attached to and responsible for the conservation of Chek Jawa. This should be noted when planning events in council, where our end objectives in mind are extremely important and we need to make sure that whatever we do is aligned to those, in order to meet them. That being said, it is important to know how to appeal to different groups of people. As I had the opportunity of guiding 2 different groups- the first being a family and the second a group of adults during my OJT, this really came into play. In my opinion, the first trip was more enjoyable, made lively by the presence of kids. Of course, what is said to these groups of people to keep them interested is vastly different, something the guides managed to do well. This is also applicable to council, where we have to learn to appeal to very different groups of people, such as the teachers and the students, who are equally important groups of individuals, to garner their support. From this, I learnt that we must approach them in different ways to achieve that.
Lastly, I feel that the guided walks to Chek Jawa are an excellent way to showcase its beauty to Singaporeans, as well as conserve it for our children. Knowing about the beauty and aquatic life of the place may not be enough to cause people to want to conserve it, but helping them create happy memories there will make them feel attached to the place and feel more passionate about its conservation, forming a combined effort to prevent Chek Jawa’s destruction. In conclusion, the EXCEL programme has given me experience and skills to better communicate with the masses, teaching me important lessons about being a good leader, as well as introduce the beauty of Chek Jawa.
And a special note… Thank you very much to the guides and Mr Loh for treating us to a sumptuous seafood lunch every visit