“The most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us.” Indian Proverb
I would give any future volunteers the benefit of a lesson I drew from my own experience on one point which, while it may seem obvious to some, can easily be forgotten when you are caught up in the excitement preceding the trip. It is only natural to have visualised the sort of work you will doing and the issues you will be researching and writing up before you set off. This is a dream opportunity and thus you will have dreams and expectations. I suggest you set them aside. As my brother frequently advises me – ‘Manage your expectations’. Manage your expectations diligently and you are sure to have them exceeded. Something i discovered quite early on in the project – and I say this at my own expense – was that much of the valuable work carried out by this huge international organisation involves dry and dreary data!! Some of the most valuable advice I received while at WWF-India came from Samir Sinha, the head of TRAFFIC and would serve equally well for any future volunteer: “there are lots of interesting stories and fascinating facts that you will come across in your work here; we are surrounded by them all the time. But if we paid attention to them regardless of their relevance, we would not get the work done. The truth is that a great deal of the most valuable work involves dull and dreary data and that’s what helps us to progress.”
It is this rigorous research and painstaking scrutiny to detail which makes WWF one of the most powerful and active NGOs in the world and arguably the most effective in the field of wildlife. All progress stems from data and every new discovery, policy implemented or destruction halted is the result of research and facts, facts, facts.....cross-examined and checked for accuracy and checked again. For the better part of your time with WWF-India, your direct involvement with wildlife will be limited to being entertained by the cheeky but irresistibly cute palm squirrels dancing around you as you lunch on the roof terrace of the Godrej building as hawk-eagles circle the thermals overhead. As occupational pastimes, I wholeheartedly recommend both. For a volunteer eager to jump in and get involved with such an awesome organisation, it can be hard to maintain a focus on what might seem to be mind-numbing data or dull and heavy documents; think of them as you might think of the caterpillar in relation to the butterfly. If you are prepared to get your teeth into all this then you are guaranteed the experience of a lifetime which will make every document read, graph plotted and percentage calculated worth its weight in gold!
"Manage your expectations diligently and you are sure to have them exceeded
This report, done as part of my 3-month volunteer assignment, does not necessarily reflect the views of WWF-India or TRAFFIC India.
On the back of my WWF experience, I have made the decision to do a post-graduate course in marketing and PR with a view to then applying this to an organisation or cause which follows the values I would like to promote.