Kees van der Vlugt
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
Seeing my first tiger in the wild gave me an adrenaline rush I will remember for the rest of my life!
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Lucky enough to go to India?
- 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!