C3 Internship Review – Josie Fraser – Philippines 2012
My three month internship with C3 in the Philippines was one of the most challenging yet valuable experiences in my scientific career. I learned a lot about conservation, particularly in terms of community-based projects, and felt I contributed significantly to an important environmental cause. I gained new skills in the field, in the office, and in day to day life in the Filipino community in which I was immersed. I had some incredible experiences that will remain with me as memories for many years to come.
My internship with C3 provided the chance to learn an approach to conservation that I had read about but in which I had not been involved. My previous experiences working in ecology gave me a range of skills applicable to purely ecosystem-based conservation, many of which proved valuable during C3 field work. My work with C3, however, widened this skill set to include those required for a more holistic community-based approach to conservation. Additionally, prior to my work with C3, my experience with data manipulation and analysis had involved only quantitative data. The community-based methodology employed by C3, however, allowed me to learn valuable skills in the collection and analysis of qualitative data. Because of the multi-disciplinary approach to environmental conservation taken by C3, involving both ecological and sociological aspects, I feel the project in which I was involved has the potential to prove highly successful and sustainable in terms of conservation. I feel fortunate to have been involved in this exciting, important project during its early stages of development, and that my contribution to this research has had a positive impact upon environmental conservation in Busuanga, Palawan.
Although my time in the Philippines was focused on work, I leaped at the opportunity to immerse myself in the Filipino culture around me. I learned as much of the Tagalog language as I could (although this proved difficult as people were always eager to practice their English), and spent a lot of time speaking to local people about their culture, customs, politics, and their social and environmental concerns. Because food is an integral part of most cultures, I embraced the chance to learn the Filipino way of eating, from the farm or the sea to the kitchen. I went fishing with local fishers, waded knee deep through mangrove mud with local women to gather clams and crabs, and accompanied farmers to their family plots to watch rice harvest and to help collect fruits and vegetables. I also spent a lot of time in kitchens throughout Busuanga, cooking, learning, tasting, and asking endless amounts of questions. All these experiences made my internship with C3 richer, by allowing me the chance to learn more deeply about the Filipino way of life, and the social and cultural systems present that either directly or indirectly impact upon the environment.