Kees van der Vlugt

About Me

To be quite honest, before going to India I did not like tigers. At least, I did not like seeing them in the zoo. I never understood why people saw power and strength in these bored and fat animals. So when I went to India, I was really curious if I would change my mind. And yes… I changed my mind from the moment I saw my first wild tiger, who gave me a real adrenalin rush that I will remember the rest of my life!
Because the Indian people always start laughing about my name, which means hair in Hindi, I will immediately start with my motivation for the program. After finishing my master’s programme Natural Resources Management at Utrecht University, I wanted to learn more about nature conservation in foreign countries and use my knowledge and capacities for this goal. Besides that, I always try to work on my personal development. This made the Global Youth Volunteering Programme of WWF International the right choice for me: all my goals could be reached in these three months. Although I originally applied for Madagascar, India is also an important nature conservation area: the economy is booming and the population is still rising, creating many problems for India’s beautiful nature. Action should be taken before it is too late. Therefore, I was very happy when WWF International offered me this placement at WWF India.

During my participation in the program, I saw different aspects of nature conservation. Also, living in a culture that is totally different from The Netherlands was an eye-opener for me. I had to get used to the lack of structure, to poverty and to a lot of pollution. However, I was also very impressed by its beautiful nature and culture. To me, my time in India was incredible and probably life changing. If you are allowed to experience this, be prepared for some rough times but probably for the time of your life as well! I will tell you my story now. I will start with an introduction about WWF in the landscape, followed by my own experiences and some recommendations. If you speak Dutch, you can also read my blog on www.keesinindia.waarbenjij.nu
 / ©: WWF/Kees van der Vlugt
At Jabalpurs Waterfalls
© WWF/Kees van der Vlugt

Seeing my first tiger in the wild gave me an adrenaline rush I will remember for the rest of my life!

Want to find out more?

Lucky enough to go to India?

If you are joining the Global Youth Volunteering Programme and you are going to India, I have some recommendations for you!
  • It is not difficult to be the tallest person in India. However, keep in mind that the doors are also made for smaller people;
  • Be prepared for a hot climate. Before I went I thought that this would not be a problem. However, after arriving in India I thought that my proteins would denature;
  • The prices are sometimes ridiculously low in India. However, many Indian people also want to make as much money as possible from non-Indian people. This can be really frustrating. Also, keep in mind that giving money to children may stimulate them not to finish school but start a career in begging. Think for yourself how you can help the poverty in the long-run, not in the short-run;
  • I sometimes felt like I was walking through a three-dimensional Unicef-calendar with a Dolby surround system. Being in India is a real experience; keep in mind that you also need to process all impressions. So take enough time for this! One thing that really helped me was to listen to my own music;
  • The Indian people may be different compared to the people you are used to. For example, they are not punctual, their behaviour is sometimes difficult to understand and Hindi-English is not English-English. Keep this in mind before going, it may sometimes be difficult;
  • Be flexible, all plans can change every minute in India. Do not go if you cannot handle changing situations, although this can also be a learning goal for you. Sometimes I really got mad because of all changing plans but I also became even more flexible because of this;
  • Last but not least: enjoy! Despite some tough times, I really have had a great time and I would do it again, knowing what I would see and do. Sometimes you may forget why you went, but some good food and a good night rest may help a lot at such moments. Look after yourself but also make the best out of your time!
© WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt © WWF/Kees van der Vlugt

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