I was given 2 choices, the community exposure programme and the environmental programme. The difference was simple the former is about people, the latter is about nature, right? WRONG. I noticed how important people skills are in the first talk by Ms Ria Tan, she talks about the naked truth to succeed in guiding, that is knowing when and what to say to different visitors. The information was not the important part, since that can be done with memorization and with only the information equipped will almost certainly not make you an interesting guide. To be honest, I did not have any doubts in joining the environmental exposure programme because I have been fascinated with nature since as long as I can remember, but knowing that the community programme had more interaction made me feel a little let down since I wanted to do that as well, but I kind of got the best of both worlds by choosing the greener path.
Ms Ria Tan talked about all the possible species of wildlife that can be seen at chek jawa, I would be lying if I said I knew Singapore had such great biodiversity, sometimes I just doze off during talks since my attention span is not the longest but never once did I feel the need to close my eyes during the 2 hour long talk, and what's more is that I did not have a great rest the night before. Despite all the surprising facts I learnt about chek jawa, it was Ms Tan's charisma that really caught me off guard, it is difficult to not want to listen to her, and that was what kind of a guide I wanted to be.
I have been to Pulau Ubin before, numerous times in fact. Every time I arrive at the island, I get a different experience, this was no exception. It was a leisurely day as we were not expected to do any actual guiding but all those who were there were very excited. Mr Loh himself gave some introduction of the trail and the surrounding environment, I seriously admire his passion for the environment, I know I definitely will not get out of my bed at midnight just to see rare animals on an island separated from you by a 20 minute boat ride. Then I realised the naked hermit crabs are no joke, they are so passionate about the cause expecting nothing in return, that made me wonder if someday I would be able to do the same.
During this first trip, I learnt how to interact with kids, not that I don't know how before, but specifically how to make them pay attention and absorb information from you. Packaging of content is very important, so our experienced guide made use of as many stories as possible, since they are not interested in the science behind the creatures why force feed them with it? Just make the experience fun for them, if this made them love nature they will be keen to find out about it themselves in the future.
In the end, we were made to draw the most memorable moment in the trip, I drew the sight of a pack of wild boars in the forest, though not related to chek jawa, I found them to be equally interesting.
This was after promos, a time where all the academic rigour of JC1 was past. Another trip to Ubin would have great effects in calming my spirits. Having learnt my lessons, both about the cruelty of nature and the effective way to guide, I set off knowing I will make this mission a success and return safely with minimal number of bites. The weather was rather unfavourable but not enough to dampen our spirits. With a morning rain I thought most would arrive late and/or sleepy but no I was WRONG, AGAIN.
I was glad to be joined by similarly enthusiastic guests as well, I was assigned to guide a group together with Sylvia. I wanted kids to join our group but unfortunately what I learnt before could not be put to use as there were NONE. Nevertheless I regurgitated what I have in my head about chek jawa, since children were absent I did not have to go through the trouble of packaging everything into little stories. It was really enjoyable to have the guests so keen on learning about nature, we even went into a little discussion about how evolution brought about the huge claws on the fiddler's crab.
One incident that I would have probably never experience ever in my life was seeing a bottle adrift at sea, WITH A MESSAGE INSIDE. I quickly borrowed Sylvia's umbrella trying to scoop it out of the sea but to no avail, and I almost lost her umbrella too. I was sorely disappointed not to be able to get it. Nothing in the world could have effectively measured my curiosity on what was written on the note.
Overall, this journey had been one of discovery, about nature, about people. I'm glad to have chosen what I chose, no regret, never ever. I have new insights on how to interact with people, how to appreciate the nature, a new found respect for the naked hermit crabs, a also found great deal of comfort knowing that a vulnerable place like chek jawa have a flock of guardian angels protecting it and even knew more about my friends. I've always thought of Sylvia to be dominant and a little scary to approach but it turns out she's a little shy and is a very kind and encouraging person, giving much needed assurance of my guiding abilities. I wish her all the best for her own OJT next month. I'm pretty sure everyone else got to know their guiding partners better after the trip as well. Those who came definitely understood Mr Loh a little better as well (:
One last awesome group photo, Jeremy is getting philosophical again.