Perhaps the environmental exposure program was not what caught my interest initially. Memories of a shore walk some years back reminded me of the unpleasant feeling of walking in the inter-tidal areas with shoes dripping wet, not to mention the threat of stonefish lying around. However, what the trips to Chek Jawa gave me was a completely different, indubitably much more enjoyable experience. Not merely just the fact that we were walking on an elevated walkway instead of the shore itself, but also that experiencing nature in its most genuine form (given what you can find locally at least) and interacting with other like-minded nature lovers to share our pools of knowledge.
It has been said that the way one treats seemingly less significant creatures, such as animals and insects in the wild, will reflect in a way how he deals with his equals. It was through this exposure that I realized how inexplicable the beauty of nature is, especially since Chek Jawa holds one of the most diverse ecosystems Singapore has on her land, and one of the last of such places to be found. Preserving the place would be of utmost importance, I feel, such that the appreciation of wild life found can be an experience shared with younger and future generations. There definitely is a way to meet the needs of our current generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to similarly meet their own. The clearing of Chek Jawa in order to make way for residential developments is, thus, in my opinion, would probably be a wrong signal that it is perfectly fine to clear nature to meet our needs at the expense of future generations.
We were greeted by the sights of unique wildlife, such as the insect above which had part of its limbs in white – certainly something not easily found in mainland Singapore.
Other animals like that of the wild boar, shield bugs and other birds were also eye-opening sightings. For the second trip to Chek Jawa, the few of us were involved in On-The-Job training. Initially the thought of this did frighten me, given that I was not too comfortable with talking to a large group of strangers. Thankfully, the group of people that I got to interact with were open-minded and did not give me any difficulties at all in communicating with them. Some made it very easy for me to share with them about the environment in Chek Jawa by asking several questions.
In addition, the experienced guide in the group was approachable and I could clarify any doubts I had to answer to the others in the group who inquired. The most important takeaway that I brought home from the OJT trip was probably to be humble and not hesitate in learning from the group that I was guiding, since a huge proportion was older than me, and consequently full of more life experience. Though I was in the position of a nature guide-in-training, there were many parts of my knowledge of Chek Jawa which was inadequate and thus could learn a lot from the group, in particular those who were passionate nature lovers and knew much more than I did.
On a whole, the trip to Chek Jawa had taught me not only to appreciate the little things in the world, which would reflect our attitudes towards greater things, and to willingly humble myself to learn from others even when we are seemingly in the position of a leader.