One Year On

It turns out it is my WordPress blog anniversary today! One whole year since I decided on the spur of the moment to set up a blog and write about the issues facing the world that I feel so passionately about.

A lot has happened in that year, I went to Thailand, completed my internship, met a bunch of amazing people, applied for a masters degree, got accepted on to my masters degree, got a job and worked extremely hard for 6 month in order to take on my next challenge.

So here I am, one year later, about to take on my very last day at the job I’ve had for 6 months, before starting another brand new chapter of my life, surrounded by a whole new bunch of amazing people.

This year hasn’t been easy, I’ve made friends, lost friends, made some bad decisions but made some very good ones too, all of which have lead me to this very moment, sitting on my bed, writing this blog and thinking about how incredible the next year of my life is going to be.

I get to spend the next year in one of the most beautiful counties in the UK, studying conservation and continuing my journey to making the world a better place, once tiny step at a time. And while looking back on the memories of this year fills me with joy, it cannot compete with the elation I feel that I am truly on my way to doing what I want to do with my life.

Thinking about the year ahead, I have so many plans. There will be more blogs, more issues brought to light, more experiences to share with you! I’m going to learn to scuba dive, I’m heading off to Kenya, a brand new country and continent for me, and I’m going to get my masters degree! I’m going to explore Cornwall, a county that is somewhat illusive to me, and I’m hopefully going to have the best year so far.

So then, University: Take 2, I’ll see you in 2 weeks!

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GVI Sleepout!

Sorry I’ve been so rubbish at posting blogs, I can barely keep my daily diary entries up to date!! I wanted to post this at least a week ago but living in the mountains comes with it’s struggles of no internet! Here’s a little something of what I got up to in November.

On the 20th to the 22nd November the volunteers, interns and staff here at GVI Chiang Mai challenged themselves to a sleep out in the forests surrounding Huay Pakoot in Northern Thailand.

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The scale my team created to keep track of donations.

We did this to raise money for some of the elephants we have here in the village: Sah Jah, Lulu and Khum Suk are all funded through the GVI Trust, money donated by people like you. We need to raise £5000 per year to enable the elephants to remain here in the village and this was a challenge we set ourselves to help raise that! Please donate here! We were split into 3 teams (Sah Jah, Lulu (my team) and Khum Suk) and would be building shelters, fires, cooking and doing challenges in our teams.

On the 20th we all gathered at base to organise our packs and distribute the equipment we had been given between us. I carried a length of rope, a tarpaulin and a box of 30 packets of noodles on the hike to the area that would become our home for 3 days and 2 nights. Once we got there our teams were allowed to choose the area they wanted to fb_img_1481384279874et up their shelter in order of the winners to losers of a quiz we had had earlier that week. My team got second choice and had a large area of forest with a slanted fallen tree that we thought would be perfect to help keep our tarpaulins up.
It didn’t take us too long to raise a shelter (with the help of a mahout), with 2 tarpaulins over our heads and another on the floor. We spent some time collecting firewood, building a fire pit and creating some chopsticks and bowls out of bamboo as we had neither provided.
Then we had our first challenge: to make up a “jungle song” and make some instruments and perform it to everyone. We produced our own rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”:
“Forest sleep out we love you
 Raising money for Lulu
 In the mountains of Huay Pakoot
 We need help from the mahouts
 Forest sleep out we love you
 Raising money for Lulu”
After just about managing to scrape together a meal of noodles, which we ate pretty sloppily out of our bamboo bowls, we went night fishing! I caught 5 fish, most of them pretty small, but some other people caught some decent sized fish which were fried and eaten. We headed off to bed, completely oblivious to the horror that was in store for us that night.
Usually what comes springing to mind when you think of the weather in Thailand is something nice and hot. Not at night in the middle of the forest, oh no. I have no idea what the actual temperature was, but due to the cold I manage to only grab one hour of sleep, and spent the rest of the night trying desperately to find firewood and bribe our fire to stay aflame the whole night. Other teams were having similar problems, including the staff, so we ended up with a few visitors during the night, each trying to stay warm or just spread some camaraderie. Seeing the sun peak through the trees was a blessing.
The next day half the group had to leave due to feeling unwell or exhaustion. The 10 volunteers that remained decided to group their efforts to create one large sleeping area (out of team Lulu’s original shelter) and a communal fire pit. We were treated to chocolate bars to keep out spirits up. Working together as one team was so much more effectual that 3 separate teams and later that day we had a raised sleeping areas and large communal fire pit with a raised seating area.15109439_10154767368377206_852831559108855231_n.jpg
That evening the mahouts treated us to a curry, chicken and hotdogs and raised our spirits even more before we faced another cold night.
We all slept better, with 10 people in one area rather than 4 or 5, but I still only managed around 4 hours sleep. Morning came to grant sweet relief from the uncomfortable night. We dismantled all of our shelters, picked up all our belongings and started the trudge back up the steep path we had decended 3 days ago (fortunately to a truck waiting at the top to take us home).
Have a look at the video to see what we got up to, see if you can spot the elephant cameo, and donate if you can!

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A little bit about me

Hello!

My name is Jenna, and I’m a huge wildlife fan. I’m studying Biology at the University of Exeter and have become extremely passionate about conservation and I have the general ‘saving the planet’ vibe. Someone recently asked me if I was one of those ‘peace and love’ types, but I’m not sure that quite fits!

I grew up in Oxfordshire, spending 18 of my 20 years living and studying there. I think I pretty quickly became an animal person- we’ve always had dogs in the family and I took up horse riding at a young age.

I now live in north Devon with my mum and dad (when I’m not at university). We have a little collection of animals: dogs, horses, cats, ducks and chickens, which pretty much determine what we will be doing that day! We live close to the sea, which is great because I love dog walks on the beach and my attempts at surfing are very fun.

I am a waitress during the summers, but this is not what I want to be doing. I want to be a conservationist, working outside with amazing, endangered animals and teaching people about them in the hope of reaching the goal where they are protected, looked after, loved and adored by all.

That’s why, next year, I’m going to Thailand.