Why did I choose Environmental Exposure?
Both options for the EXCEL program, the community exposure module and the environmental exposure module, were attractive to me. Initially, I intended to join the community exposure as it would allow me to observe the Meet the People’s Sessions. I have never had the chance to get close to talk sessions between Singapore leaders and normal residents. The first-hand experience was quite appealing to me. However, eventually I chose Environmental exposure because the attractive nature of environment itself. All the cute and lovely photos of marine lives had totally convinced me to join the environmental exposure when Mr Loh passed the guidebook to me. Thus, I signed up for it without any hesitation! (haha)
Thoughts of Indoor talk
Initially, I was quite unwilling to go for the indoor talk. From my experience, talks are boring and meaningless. But from the start of this talk, I was proven to be wrong. I still remembered the first thing we were told to do when we entered student lounge was to find out ‘stonefish’ from the booklet given. Due to curiosity, everyone was anxiously looking for it. The finding process made us even more interested to go for our actual field trip. During the talk given by Ria, she shared with us how she engaged people by teaching us to post some possible question. For example, how many claws do tree-climbing crabs have? How can mudskippers move around out of water? She explained the rationale was to make people to think and find out answers themselves rather than telling all the answers. Through this way, people would be more interested in the field trip!
First Field Trip
My first field trip with the Naked Hermit Crabs was Pasir Ris mangrove boardwalk, 1st September. It was indeed a memorable experience though it was a bit rainy in the late afternoon. Maybe due to the weather, there weren’t a lot of people came for the walk. I was following Ivan with around 6 people which exactly two families. Ivan is very knowledgeable. He talked about the history of different plants and explained different behaviors of crabs during high tide and low tide. It was extremely interesting and amazing for me to learn all these knowledge. It really made me inspired to do things consistently! I really admire people like Mr Loh and Ivan, who has so much passion for something and they are willing to dedicate their time and effort just for their interest!
Although Ivan did most of the talking, I actually talked to the people in our groups! By the between, I also helped to find out quite a number of crabs and mudskippers! I felt great when I showed them the crabs and mudskippers I found! Guess what? I found two squirrels as well!!! I felt so proud whenever the young boy asked me where the crabs were! Haha.
At the start, I wasn’t daring to talk to the people. But after a while, things went to the right direction and I really learnt a lot from the trip, especially that to be brave to talk to strangers!
OJT to Chek Jawa :)
The on-the-job training to Chek Jawa was in the midst of preparation of our promotional examination. To be honest, the trip was more memorable and meaningful compared to the previous field trip!
Okay, let’s back from the lunch! That day was high tide and rainy, again. I was quite worried before the talk because I will be doing guiding! FOR REAL! Besides having limited knowledge of stations, I afraid I can’t engage people well. However, luckily I got Mr Loh as the main guide and I felt much safer! Haha. Although that was not my first time been to Ubin, I was still very excited about the natural beauty there, especially the sea views. During the guiding, I was quite surprised to see how much our dear Mr Loh knows! He talked about durian trees and fruit bats, about monitor lizards and cotton-stainer bugs. I picked up almost twice the amount of knowledge than I had on the first trip!
Moreover, I thought we were more lucky that the previous one because we had chance to see much more creatures. For example, we saw a great billed heron which was apparently a mature one. We also saw a wild boar which was seldom seen. We saw big and yellow color bees around their nest also though I can’t really remember its name.
The wild boar! Photo taken by ME!!!!
My favorite personal experience on the trip was climbing the tower. Mr Loh set a target of 30 seconds for me to climb the tower. However, I failed the mission with a result of 43 seconds. When we were at the top, we actually saw two eagles a distance away. It was cool to have a great sight at the top. The tower seemed a bit dangerous. Apart from the height, it was shaking all the time. I was scared but I told myself that I should be confident and brave! So I tried to calm down and after a while, I beat the fear. So as to be a leader, when any emergency happens, you have to calm yourself down first and be confident to handle the situation!
For my guiding stations, I tried to speak normally and made the atmosphere gentle. As such, I will feel easier to share my ideas with the people. Thus, I posted questions like, ’Do you think the mudskippers are frogs, fishes or snakes’. With the help from active people in my group, I could naturally continue my sharing, not only get my job done, but also successfully engage them. Similarly, a leader has to attract people’s attention before you say anything important. To be a leader, does not mean you have to put yourself high. In fact, you have to put yourself low for easier engaging people and achieve your goal. When running an event, the most important thing is to get people involved because they are the ones who make the event successfully in the end. Thus, effective communication is the key to achieve the goal besides good planning and execution.
Thank you Naked Hermit Crabs for the opportunity. Thank you Mr Loh for all the guidance! By the way, Mr Loh is an amazing photographer (maybe because of his ‘investment’ of the DSLR).