Conservation Internships in asia

International Women’s Day

Author and Interviewer: Hugo Bennetts

As part of International Women’s Day 2020, I interviewed five of Fuze Ecoteer’s female employees to briefly discuss their individual stories from childhood interests to career development. This blog contains the full, unedited interviews of Azee, Melissa, Liyana, Maddie and Sofia, and I for one found their stories and messages very powerful and inspiring. We hope that by sharing some of their stories, the women at FE will show that anyone, regardless of gender, background and story, can follow their passions, be they conservation focused or anything else!

Azee

  1. What did you want to be when you were little?
    • An airforce pilot!
  2. How long have you worked at FE?
    • On and off since 2015.
  3. How did you end up working for FE?
    • After graduation 2013, development internship in Cambodia and Timor Leste for a year.
    • Project manager for Do Something Good, Malaysia in 2014.
    • Volunteered for 6 months in various places India organic farming in 2015.
    • Project manager for FE Merapoh 2015.
    • Worked with a refugee NGO for about 6 months in KL.
    • Development Masters in the Bristol Uni, UK while working part-time and remotely for FE 2017 to 2018.
    • Now, HR & Finance Manager for FE.
  4. Favourite animal?
    • Cats.
  5. Why did you want to work for a conservation company?
    • While working with Do Something Good, met up with a lot of environmental NGOs and learned a lot and started some environmental projects as well.

Melissa

  1. What did you want to be when you were little?
    • A marine biologist.
  2. How long have you worked at FE?
    • 1.5 years as an employee but I’ve been a volunteer and intern since 2011.
  3. How did you end up working for FE?
    • I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist since young and just needed some actual exposure to the field. I found out about FE’s PTP (then known as HOPE – Help Our Penyu) in 2011 in the Perhentian and signed up as a volunteer for 3D2N (I was underage – 17 –  and needed my dad to come along which meant we couldn’t stay long due to his work). I went back to volunteer with the same project (which underwent multiple name changes before settling on the Perhentian Turtle Project in 2015) every two years until 2015. That year was when they really kick started the project and used photo ID, which was a method I was really familiar with having worked with photo ID for humpback whales during my college time in the US. Photo ID for turtles got me really curious and in 2017, I decided to return to the project as a 6-week photo ID intern, helping curate the catalogue in exchange for access to the data for my senior thesis. That was when I found out that the project manager at the time was leaving and looking for a replacement. As I was graduating the year after (2018) and would need a job then, I took her offer to apply for the position and here I am today.
  4. Favourite animal?
    • Dogs. This is the hardest question to answer for me, by the way.
  5. Why did you want to work for a conservation company?
    • Being in conservation means working on the ground, with the animals, environment, and people directly involved in it. As complicated and slow as it is, working in conservation means no two days or problems are the same. It will always be a challenge and often an uphill battle but at least I face these in a field of my choosing and passion. There will be ups and downs but at the end of the day, I will always know what I am fighting for. And as controversial or ironic as a conservation company may sound, I’d rather work in a company whose profits go directly into supporting but also comes from the people and projects that are the boots on the ground of conservation.

Liyana

  1. What did you want to be when you were little?
    • When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher. (Didn’t everyone??) I love teaching other people something that they don’t know or know but struggled to understand. I LOVE learning – not so much in the academic sense, but just about anything and from any way/source/person. And I love sharing what I know with other people (sometimes even when they’re not interested oops).
  2. How long have you worked at FE?
    • I’ve worked with FE for 1 year and 4 months now.
  3. How did you end up working for FE?
    • I am a qualified Advocate and Solicitor in the High Court of Malaya. Reading law was fun, very challenging and informative. It fueled my love for learning. However, the life of a lawyer is not something that I want. In my heart, I have always had a burning for something ‘more’. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the legal profession is a noble work. However, I just wanted something different. I wanted to contribute to society, the environment and not just live in a ‘me’ bubble. After being called to the bar in Peninsular Malaysia, I became a florist for a while just to take a break and get my bearings until this opportunity was presented to me. Even though having to start from zero, I took the leap and the rest is history. I have learned so much, experienced so much and have actually seen the impacts of what we have done to our planet and the impacts of what conservationists are doing and it has been amazing. It gives me hope.
  4. Favourite animal?
    • Dogs. Even though it is haram for a Muslim to have one as a pet, we are not taught to be cruel to them. And I can always love them from afar, no? (Sad love story). I love how they are loyal, reliable and so darn cute! I love cats too because they are independent, sassy and a mystery.
  5. Why did you want to work for a conservation company?
    • As I have mentioned above, I wanted something ‘more’ in my life. I suppose I have always been a person who shows that she cares in act of service towards others and what better way than to channel that to the place we call home. I’ve always had an interest in conservation but never really delved into it. But now that I have the chance to earn a living, to learn and work on something I’m passionate about and utilized all the skills I’ve acquired along my journey in it, I had to grab the chance. Isn’t that the dream, though? When a job is not a job but also a chance to grow in so many ways?

Maddie

  1. What did you want to be when you were little?
    • I wanted to ‘save the dolphins’. I remember being at a school event when I was about 8 years old and getting up on stage having to tell the adults in the audience what I wanted to be when I grew up; I said “I’m going to be the female David Attenborough.” They all laughed at me. I was frustrated by this because i was so serious!
    • I was super naive back then and thought that the only way to save animals was to become a vet… so I worked [really hard] through school and began a vet degree… a couple of years in and I realised this was definitely not the direction I was meant to go.
    • I needed to be a voice, I needed to fight for animals and their injustices, so I became an activist and conservationist… I’ve never looked back.
  2. How long have you worked at FE?
    • One full season, about to begin my second season!
  3. How did you end up working for FE?
    • I’m a PADI dive instructor, commercial scientific diver, boat captain and spent the last four years before FE as a Deckhand for well known conservation organisation, Sea Shepherd Global. My conservation efforts have taken me to some remarkable parts of the world – from Borneo working for the Tropical Research & Conservation Centre to the Great Australian Bight fighting oil rigs, to the Southern & Indian Oceans doing plastic ocean contamination focused research. I wanted to get back into coral conservation and saw the opportunity online at FE open in Malaysia where my heart has been taken captive.
  4. Favourite animal?
    • The great white shark.
  5. Why did you want to work for a conservation company?
    • It’s my calling; it’s why I’m put on this earth… to work in conservation. I get super inspired and motivated by others in my industry doing similar things, and need to be surrounded by it and similar mindsets.
    • I need to be out in the field. My industry comes with a lot of death and destruction, but sometimes it’s a good reality check and keeps me fighting.
    • It’s easy to feel disheartened and overwhelmed by all of the mess happening in the world today, but then I remind myself of those out there dedicating their lives to saving the planet… and how each one of those people together add up to one big win. There is still SO much left worth fighting for, don’t ever forget it.

Sofia

  1. What did you want to be when you were little?
    • I actually wanted to be a singer when I was little.
  2. How long have you worked at FE?
    • I’m into my 3rd year with FE and I don’t think I’m gonna look back.
  3. How did you end up working for FE?
    • After 15 years in the entertainment world, I started a family and put things aside to focus on my children. After homeschooling my girls, I ended up facilitating a kids nature club and homeschooling a resort owners children as well as my own on a remote beach in Perhentian. That’s where I met FE co-founders Daniel and Pavin. After returning to Kuala Lumpur and trying out odd jobs, I chose to contact Dan to conduct after-school activities. Well, here I am… Have not yet done any after-school programmes but I love what I do now.
  4. Favourite animal?
    • Terrestrial: the slow loris.
    • Marine: box fish or the Spanish Dancer – nudibranch.
  5. Why did you want to work for a conservation company?
    • Always been a tree hugger. And now with my children around, I want to embed the importance of the environment and bio-diversity for them and the world.

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