By Ida Karlsson
How did a twenty-two-year-old girl from the Swedish countryside end up in the middle of the Peruvian jungle?
Honestly, it was a coincidence, but it is the best coincidence of my life! Writing has been my passion ever since I learnt the alphabet. That is why I ended up studying media and communication science at Jönköping University. During my university years, I got introduced to the wider concept of multimedia and a new interest was born.
When my graduation started closing up on me, I casually scrolled through LinkedIn for possible ways to start my career. My mind was set on a job. The thought of doing an internship abroad had not even hit me. All of a sudden, an ad for “Environmental multimedia internship” appeared. I clicked it, and instantly I was hooked. At the time I was just about to start my final university internship at an ecolabel, so I already had an established interest in environmental communication. The program with Crees offered the perfect combination for me, both an opportunity to develop my practical multimedia skills, but also doing so in an exotic environment for a good cause. It was too good to be true. I applied, and all of a sudden, I was in Peru ready to start the biggest adventure of my life.
I remember my first boat ride into the Manu reserve. I sat enchanted by the rainforest-covered hills that lined the river. The beauty did not decrease as we embarked and climbed the stairs from the beach to the jungle. There it was, the Manu Learning Centre, a few houses with bamboo walls and leaf-covered roofs and a garden full of hummingbirds. When I was shown to my room I could not stop smiling. The walls were only a meter high, and then they opened up to show the greatness of the neighbouring jungle. After that day followed three months of waking up from the sun shining through my mosquito net the sound of macaws and titi monkeys calling from outside. It was a great way to start a new day of jungle adventures.
I did not know what to expect when the internship started. All I knew was that I wanted to learn, both about media, but also about the jungle and the amazing rich biodiversity that thesurroundings offered. But I could not have predicted how much I would actually learn and how many things I would experience. My photography and videography skills increased rapidly, and so did my writing in English. What came as a positive surprise was the amount that I learnt about the work they do at the Manu Learning Centre and the impact on the ecosystems. For example, I did not expect to be able to identify several different frogs with their Latin names or differ between the calls of three different types of macaws.
Before I went to the jungle, I wondered what my favourite animal would be. Maybe a sloth, I had heard rumours about the residence-sloth Gavina who usually came around camp. She was adorable, but not my favourite. Not even the tiny squirrel monkeys jumping around the trees with their cute babies on their backs stole my heart completely.
The animal that took my breath away was the humans, so ordinary, but yet so extraordinary. The people of the Manu Learning Centre, staff, interns, volunteers, they all share an interest and a passion for conservation which is contagious and inspiring. In an enclosed environment like the Manu Learning Centre, you grow close quick and build strong relationships. So, watching monkeys in the jungle is cool, but doing the same thing with people you love, sharing that experience, that is amazing.
I thought I would leave Crees just as an environmental communicator, but now I am also partly a conservationist, all thanks to the amazing field staff who taught me new things every day. It became clear to me early in the internship that my future was in environmental communications. I need to work with something I can put my heart into, and I really want to try to make a change by using my words and my pictures. Doing my internship with Crees has made me more confident with my career choice, and it has also made the way their easier by providing me with valuable experience.
Even though I do not know where I will end up next, I am certain that I will work with sustainability, and I would not be surprised if I would find my way back to the jungle once again.
As you might understand, I do not regret clicking on that LinkedIn ad for one second. It was three months of pure joy, even the days when tropical storms were raging, or mosquitos were tormenting me. I will always remember the beautiful sunrises, the long days surveying butterflies in the field, the candle-lit dinners, and the sing-a-longs while doing wash up. It was an adventure from start to end, probably the biggest challenge I have ever faced, but also the most educative and fun months I have experienced.
With huge thanks to Ida for sharing her experience with us and we look forward to seeing more from her in the future in her quest to communicate about the conservation of our planet.