Anne Sjolander

Anne (second from the left) interviews local community members in Mondulkiri Protected Forest.  ... rel=
Anne (second from the left) interviews local community members in Mondulkiri Protected Forest. WWF- Cambodia works with communities to sustainably manage forest resources and monitor illegal wildlife and logging activities.
© Anne Sjolander

A Little Bit About Me

As a non-stop globe, trotter and an avid earth saver, my most exciting experiences have been with a rucksack on my back, discovering new cultures, landscapes, and conservation challenges.
 I am a recent graduate from Boston University where I studied International Relations, including two unforgettable semesters abroad. Whether it was visiting rare giant tortoises in Ecuador or studying carbon sequestration in coffee plants in Costa Rica, every one of my experiences abroad has expanded my knowledge and drive towards working in international conservation.

Needless to say, I took on the opportunity to volunteer with WWF in Cambodia without a second thought…

Chumrip-sua, akun chron, khnom traew ka baay cha.

Translation: A formal hello, thank you, and I want fried rice.
 During my 6-month internship in Cambodia, I picked up some (very important) words in Khmer, cultivated a taste for Cambodian kuteav (noodle soup), experienced the elaborate beauty of multiple day Cambodian weddings, and most importantly, packed my brain full of amazing conservation knowledge.

The best way to demonstrate, how much I learned about Cambodian conservation during my volunteer placement is to present you with a few questions.

Do you know what a Banteng is? An Irrawaddy dolphin? A Kouprey? What about a Mekong Giant Catfish? Or a Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle?

Neither did I.

To put it bluntly, there are hundreds of species living in Cambodia that I did not even realize existed on our planet. And the more I learned about these species and (even on a few occasions) saw these species, the more I realized how crucial it was that we protect them. Not only are these species important for biodiversity and the health of eco-systems and society, but also to Cambodian culture.





The Challenges

These amazing creatures, face astonishing challenges: upstream hydropower dams, the illegal wildlife and logging trades, and deforestation for mining and agriculture. Add government corruption and the looming threat of climate change, and it’s easy to feel incredibly overwhelmed.

Solutions

But with each challenge, comes a response. And the way in which WWF-Cambodia responds is by uniting. They unite local communities towards sustainable lifestyles. They bring together national and international populations to support conservation efforts. They connect experts in the field to conduct vital reasearch.

So you want this experience too?

I'm not surprised.
But you don’t necessarily need to travel to Cambodia to learn about conservation challenges and solutions. (Though I highly recommend it.)

Wherever you are and wherever you travel, take advantage of getting to know the people. I learned the most from my internship with WWF by interacting with the staff, community members, and researchers who are face to face with conservation challenges. They truly showed me the importance of WWF's conservation efforts. 

Back in the United States...

I eagerly await my next adventure abroad! (Though I don’t know when and where that will be.) In the meantime, I am focusing my efforts on environmental and sustainability issues in the United States. I currently reside in New York City where I am working with Urban Green Council, the NY Chapter of the USGBC, a non-profit that focuses on green building education, awareness and research.  

Contact Information:

Anne Sjolander | Email | LinkedIn

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