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Caroline O'Connor

Do you work in an office that consists of beautiful sandy beaches, hundreds of giant tortoises, lush greenery, and the sound of waves crashing into the shore? When I told people that I was going to do an internship on Curieuse Island in Seychelles for three months they looked at me like I was crazy, and honestly I couldn’t blame them. Now I’m sitting here listening to the sounds of the ocean as I approach the halfway point of my journey and I couldn’t feel more at home. And what’s even better than having Curieuse as a home/office for another six weeks? Getting to show it off and embrace in all its glory with fourteen new volunteers.

As the new intake of people arrived, so have opportunities to use the skills I’ve learned from the leadership course. The leadership course is one of the many positive aspects of the internship programme here on Curieuse. After a series of slideshow presentations, assignments, and guiding surveys under staff supervision, the course is complete and I’m ready to be a GVI leader! This past week I lead my second and final survey under staff supervision, to complete the course. The survey consisted of taking a group of new volunteers to Anse Mandarin in search of sea turtle activity. If you asked me to do this a couple weeks ago I would have laughed thinking it was some kind of joke. Anse Mandarin. Really? The hike to this beach is not short of beautiful views; however it is lacking clearly distinguishable paths. With that being said, after completing the leadership course I was successfully able to lead the volunteers to the beach with plenty of time to search for and record turtle activity (and we found the first turtle activity on Mandarin for the 2019-2020 nesting season)! Although I may not have taken the simplest or most direct route, the leadership course increased my confidence and taught me how to guide others in situations that may not always be the easiest. Despite only finishing my last supervised survey earlier this week, I have already had the opportunity to independently lead a group of volunteers on a beach clean!

In addition to the leadership course and responsibilities, the internship programme on Curieuse includes the chance to conduct your own research project! This was a very appealing aspect for me when examining different workplace opportunities, ultimately making my final decision. However, I still did not know I wanted to research when I arrived to the island. What I did know was that I was interested in and would potentially like to work with invasive species. To my convenience, there is currently an eradication project on Curieuse to exterminate the black rats on the island (an invasive species). Next week, my dream to work with invasive species will become a reality; I will begin my research, examining the stomach contents of deceased rats.

In sum, what I’m trying to say is that if you are currently not working in an office that consists of beautiful sandy beaches, hundreds of giant tortoises, lush greenery, and the sound of waves crashing into the shore, and you’d like to, the Curieuse internship programme is right for you! With a passion for the environment and wanting more leadership and hands-on experience I applied for this programme. With the enthusiastic, educated, and encouraging staff the Curieuse conservation internship programme has already exceeded my expectations and I’m only halfway through!

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