Name: Ren Jean Chong
Hometown: Singapore, Singapore
Languages spoken: English, Mandarin (advanced), Spanish (beginner)
Occupation: Freelance digital marketer at chongrenjean.com
Volunteer Abroad: Forest Conservation and Sustainable Farming in Galapagos, Ecuador
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: July 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I wanted to visit the Galapagos, but also wanted to do something meaningful and truly immerse in culture while I was there. I searched around for various voluntary projects and found UBELONG’s environmental conservation project, which seemed like the most well organized and educational program on the web. I read the reviews and guidelines on their site, and they truly seemed like an organization that valued respect and making a tangible impact, so I signed onboard.
What impact did you make on your volunteer project?
We were educated on the different types of endemic and invasive species, which enabled us to help in the removal of invasive species from the reserve and the identification of endemic species while we were on the road. We helped replant these endemic plants that we found so that they had a protected space to thrive. We also helped develop sustainable living practices within the reserve, and helped the neighboring farmers grow their pastures to prevent their animals from destroying endemic plants.
How did you grow personally during your volunteer trip?
I learnt a lot about plants, nature, and living simplistically. There was absolutely no internet on the reserve. It really forced me to stop, relax, and observe the beauty all around. I started appreciating the different textures and shapes of various plant leafs, and learnt to give time to myself to sort my thoughts while overlooking an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your volunteer experience?
It was a breath of fresh air that widens your perspectives.