“The project is a truly remarkable place. Not only do the researchers and volunteers collect data and information about life on
the island in an exceptional manner, they also try to spread awareness to the local communities on the bay islands. I volunteered as much as I could with every research survey and activity that took place. The most challenging part about the trip was choosing what to help volunteer with when 2 or more research activities were taking place. For instance, it was tough choosing between “turtle patrol” or “anole night patrol” when they took place at the same time. However, there were lull times where research was not taking place (i.e. during/after rain storms, Sundays). Although, it did not rain very often when I was on the island (July 31-August 28). Also, there was lightning over the mainland just about every night. They say nothing is venomous on the island, but there are mildly venomous creatures, such as the Mexican Parrot Snake and Blunt-headed Tree Snake.
I managed to become a better person from this trip. I learned a lot about myself, the environment and tropical habitats on a caribbean island. I am proud to say that I gained experience on various scientific instruments such as infrared thermometers, gps navigation for anole surveys through dense hard-wood forests, and laser range finders. I learned how to capture and handle certain lizards, snakes, bats (de-netting and taking measurements), and baby turtles. Furthermore, you get to work with other agencies such as the Bay Islands Conservation Agency (BICA) for turtle research. Along the span of the trip I gained a new appreciation and fascination for bats. This was possible by working with great people.
I did not come to the research facility with a research project, however after the first week there I started to conduct my own research project survey on Great-tailed
Grackle. The people at were truly magnificent, as they helped me with my project when I had questions, comments, or concerns.
I love how the research facility is right next to Pumpkin Hill (the highest elevation on the island, and is also a dormant volcano). The research facility is isolated, in the “sticks”, and surrounded by wildlife! If you go into town, its about a 45 minute walk and there is wi-fi and coffee shops and bars. There is not very much cell reception on the island. So if you enjoy being isolated for periods of time, then this place might be for you! The people of Utila are quite amazing. If you’re their friend they value you way more than money. Meaning, friendship is more valuable than money. The values of Utila are simple, yet inspirational.
The project more than exceeded my expectations. I loved how people came from different parts the world. Being part of the project, I gained an experience not every tourist got to experience. I was welcomed by the locals in a welcoming way. I feel like they have a mission to do good and locals notice.
This was truly an amazing experience and I will not forget the things I learned, the experiences I was part of, and the people I met. I would 100% recommend this project to a friend. This island is unique and the people are amazing. Tom and Daisy are very inspiring as they make me want to be the best scientist I can possibly be. Last but not least, many thanks to Flavia for being so incredibly awesome, welcoming, and someone to talk to about anything.”
“My experience on this project helped me learn how to better communicate with people and sparked an interest to work with communities in a healthcare capacity. Although I’m still unsure of how, it made me want to continue to travel and work in the healthcare field.
During this experience I learned a lot about the importance of needs assessment and first studying a place and the people before trying to get involved. This will definitely help me in future healthcare endeavors and projects because being more educated before diving into a project will only help eliminate obstacles and problems before they happen. I saw many times in my internship how things didn’t work out or were challenging because no one planned or thought of the potential problems before they happened. Also, living with a Kichwa family gave me more insight into what a certain culture believes or finds important.
I think the facilitates an experience that will change someone’s perspective on life and will teach them something about them self and about other people. Being part of the program helps integrate a foreigner into the way of life here and facilitates learning and personal growth.
I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to see a part of the world much different than what I have seen before and to have spent 4 months challenging myself and growing as a result of my efforts and the efforts of others. I’m grateful to have seen the Amazon- the plants, the animals, the views, and the people because it is a very special place and every time I travel to mother part of Ecuador, I feel happy to return to the Amazon.”
“Being at this project was definitely one of the best experiences I could have. The project is making an impact in the island of Utila and by extent Honduras, since it makes a great effort in researching and conserving the fauna that exists in the area. I am very thankful towards the staff as they were always kind and comprehensive, and were also good friends and mentors while I stayed with them. I got to learn many new things about insects, arachnids, iguanas, bats, anoles, snakes, and hermit crabs through the fieldwork that the organization makes daily in their aim of understanding the wildlife that exists in Utila.
I had three big challenges in the project. The first challenge was being on a vegetarian diet, I had never been a vegetarian and was a little afraid I could not keep up with it, however to my surprise being on a vegetarian diet is quite pleasant, the meals cooked at the facility are so delicious that I had no problems with keeping up with the diet. The second one was the fact that I did not know many of the techniques that the staff employed in order to study the animals. However thanks to the staff’s mentoring and for letting me handle certain animals, with their supervision, I eventually and easily overcame this challenge. The third challenge was the development of my own research. I was so inspired by the studies made that I wanted to make one too, so I asked the staff if I could do a research and they accepted my request, thus my hermit crab research was born. I had no idea on how to start my research so all the staff helped and guided me on how to do the research. With their help I designed and constructed research tools, gathered information from the study site, designed maps, collected and measured hermit crabs. I am really thankful towards the staff for lending me their lab equipment and their time in order to make a great research and also for me helping overcome the challenge that the research was for me.
I believe the hermit crab research we made together is a good a contribution to further the understanding of the fauna that lives in the beaches of Utila. I am proud
to know that there is an organization like this one in my country helping in the conservation of wildlife and that encourages students from different places to join in their efforts of protecting the natural environment. I also feel very satisfied with myself as I could apply my knowledge on a real scenario in order to develop the hermit crab research.
I highly recommend people to volunteer in this project as they will be surprised on how much someone can learn in a short amount of time with the amazing staff of the project. Also because you will get to know Utila and get to participate in activities like snorkeling and celebrations that take place in the island such as Earth Day and weekend parties.”
“I am from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Ever since I was young, I loved marine life. In the summer one could find me in the Kennemerduinen (dunes), or in the coastal place Zandvoort, swimming in the Northsea. It still feels like my natural habitat.
1981 – 1983: Cetacea; hmm, quite interesting…
There used to be a Dolfirama in Zandvoort back then, were I first became interested in bottlenose dolphins. During the shows, I learnt the given information by heart.
At the same time the activists marine organisation Greenpeace gained much publicity, and became very popular among youth, for saving seal pups from slaughtering in Canada.
Thanks to them I learnt more about cetaceans specificly and marine wildlife in general.
I continued to read and learn more about cetaceans. By that time I had a dream of doing research on wildlife dolphins, but this seemed to me to be reserved to Jacques-Yves Cousteau only. I didn’t have a clue that a study such as marine biologist actually exists. If I might have known back then, I would have been determined to educate to this profession!
35 years later: announcement of the project.
When visiting Greece on holidays for the first time in 2016, I learned to know about Global Nomadic and the project by a pop-up message on LinkedIn. I was unemployed by that time, and the project gave me a new perspective in life. Thus I applied for this traineeship in the last week of September 2017.
I would describe Global Nomadic as a travel agency, specialized on trainee ships and volunteering at non-profit projects world wide.
About the research organisation..
The executive research institute is a non-profit, non-governmental environmental organisation.
The project was named after a highly endandgered specie; the monk seal, which has its habitat in the eastern Mediterranean. Only a few hundred of these animals still remain worldwide.
Since 1988 They try to preserve the monk seal populations in the Aegean sea, by environmental research, information and education, and raising orfan monk seal pups for the purpose of saving as much inidividuals as possible to maintain a healthy population.
The organisation cooperated with other organisations, like, for example, the Erasmus university in Rotterdam and the seal station in Pieterburen in the Netherlands. Though the monk seal project is main core, the project runs other marine projects as well. One of them is the dolphin research project.
The head quarters is located in Athens, but the site location is at Patitiri, a harbour place on Alonissos island. The island is situated in a marine reservation in the Aegean sea; the NMPANS (National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades). This is the research area of the project. There is a small house uphill for the lodging of trainees, and an info center downtown.
Research on dolphin populations in the marine reservation.
Since 2013 they has started a research project on dolphin populations, named NADP (Northern Aegean Dolphins Project). The purpose of this project is inventarisation and monitoring of dolphins inhabiting the area of the NMPANS. Target species are the (short- beaked) common dolphin Delphinus delphis, the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus, the striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba and the Risso’s dolphin Grampus griseus. The last 3 species mentioned are vulnarable, while the common dolphin is even endangered.
The common dolphin in Greece; history and culture.
So it’s funny though. A specie which is named “common” dolphin, one should expect it to be common, but it actually is endangered. How can that be possible?
Dolphins, especially the common dolphin, are a substantial part of the early Greece history and culture. They are frequently depicted in ancient buildings, like the famous dolphins fresco in the palace of Knossos (approx 1600 B.C.).
Up until the 18th century the common dolphin was most seen in the Mediterranian sea, while the bottlenose dolphin was quite rare. Because of human influences this has changed dramatically. During the industrialisation the populations of both species diminished because of environmental pollution. The number of common dolphins decreased even more than the number of bottlenose dolphins. The common dolphin is probably more sensitive to pollution than the bottlenose dolphin. A recent main problem is (industrial) overfishing. In contrast to the bottlenose dolphin, which is quite adaptive by finding new food resources, the common dolphin is a culture fobic specie. These environmental changes led to a smaller population of common dolphins, in relation to the population of bottlenose dolphins existing today.
The presence and viability of vulnerable and endangered species is an indication of a healthy living environment (like “a canary in a coalmine”). Preservation of marine life in general (and the common dolphin in special) is of great importance to the natural values in this area, as well as to the cultural heritage of Greece.
The fieldwork is done at day time. The captain sails the boat among the Sporades islands, within the borders of the reservation. A board member is standing by for hands-on assistance and photography. The trainees take positions on the boat, to have a total overview over sea. Each one of them is watching a piece of horizon, to spot dorsal fins. The study director stands at the center, watching as well, using binoculars. During the trip he is instructing the trainees.
When dolphins are spotted, the observation starts: which kind of species, counting numbers, if possible recognition of males, females and juveniles, kind of behaviour by sounds and movements. This information is noted on forms, as well as time and location of observation. Pictures and film material are made, for the purpose of identification of individuals.
Observation: “It’s a dolphin!”
According to the weather, we had 3 days to sail sea. At the last day, we didn’t expect to spot any dolphins anymore, and directed at the harbour. Then, all of a sudden, a common dolphin jumped in front of my face out of the water. All of us got enthousiastic, went to see them, and took pictures. We counted 3 of them. Two of them swam together, while the third one swam among them. They were very eager to join us, jumped up from the water every now and then, and played in the waves of the boat. When they swam on their back, we tried to determ the sexe. They got along for 25 mins.
Back to the base
In the evening the trainees have background information about the project by presentations, held by the study director. All information is registered in a database.
Pictures are selected and, if necessary, edited for the purpose of individual identification.A dolphins’ “fingerprint” is the dorsal fin, because of the marks on it; scratches and notches, which are unique for each individual. Relevant pictures are compared and matched to archive material. Annually returning individuals are tracked by this method.
During the traineeship there are many moments to relax as well. Enjoy Patitiri, do sightseeing at Alonissos or one of the other islands, go to the beach. Share information with the project crew and socialize with fellow trainees, who share the same interest. It was awesome!
The study director told me that after 20 years of data collecting, conclusions can be made. Since I think this a very valuable research project, I aim to return each year to follow the developments. Infact, I went back again!”
“As I was finishing up my senior year of college at Florida State University I started thinking about what I wanted to do in the next chapter of my life. I have studied Spanish for the last eleven years of my life, and knew I wanted to continue that. I was browsing LinkedIn, searching for jobs, when I came across Global Nomadic and their various volunteer opportunities across the world. Once I read more about the program in Costa Rica I was sold. I have many friends and family who have travelled to Costa Rica over the years and they always have nothing but good things to say about the country. I think this also helped making my pre-departure planning a little easier. I had many people who I could ask for advice when it came to packing. This made that process easier, even though I always over pack and have a hard time cutting down what I actually need. I also always save my packing for the last minute which is not the best practice. My main aims for my time on the project were to practice my Spanish in a country where Spanish is the native language, and also gain the skills I needed in order to become a successful teacher myself. I wanted to be able to connect with people who come from different backgrounds than I do, and a shared language is a good way to do that.
The first night that I landed in San José, Costa Rica, it was night time so I didn’t really get a good look at the country I would be calling home for the next two and a half months. However, as I drove through the country next day I was in awe of its beauty. When I arrived at Proyecto Santa Teresa I met Vill, who was extremely helpful and welcoming. He showed me around the hostel and made sure I had everything I knew where important places in town where (Super Ronny #2, the grocery store being the most important). Vill is also my Spanish teacher, and is definitely a good resource when I have questions regarding the hostel or Spanish language. Kerri is also amazing! She is so friendly and is a great teacher! I had my first TEFL classes with her, and she made it seem so much less intimidating than I thought it was going to be. Over the course of my time in Costa Rica she has become a great friend. The area of Santa Teresa is also fairly easy to navigate. It is one dirt road, and you can find anything you need on that main stretch. Our hostel is also a less than five minute walk to the beach, which is so nice! When I first arrived it was green season and there were not many other tourists in the area. It was a great time to practice my Spanish language skills and I think the locals definitely appreciate seeing foreigners make an effort to be part of the culture. I also live with two other teachers who did their TEFL training through Proyecto, so we have made fast friends.
As I come to the end of my time at Proyecto I am amazed at how quickly these last two months have flown by. Living in Santa Teresa I can see that the English classes they provide are making a difference in the community. Whenever I see students out in town they always come over and practice their English. My favorite thing is when they say, “Hi, teacher”! I had the privilege of getting four students who had never taken English classes before. I have worked with them twice a week over the last two months and I can already see how far they have come with their language skills and how eager they are to continue. It is an amazing feeling to know that you are making a difference in someone’s life. This project definitely went above and beyond my expectations. Everyone who is here as part of Proyecto is like a small family. Those who have been here for a long time are such good resources and always willing to help. It really makes the experience so much better that there is a giant support system here. I would 100% recommend this program to a friend, and in fact I already have. I think it’s a great place to earn your TEFL certification and also increase your knowledge of the Spanish language.
Over the last two months I have gotten to experience so many new things. I have experienced the night life of Santa Teresa (Thursdays are the night to party here), and spent Halloween in Montezuma with the Proyecto family. I also jumped off a waterfall in Montezuma, conquering my extreme fear of heights. I rented ATVs one day with friends and we took a ride through the jungle. Last weekend I also travelled to Granada, Nicaragua with another English teacher who I live with at Proyecto. These last two months have been full of amazing experiences for me!!”
By: Jose Javier Rosas Echeverria | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018
“One of my best experiences abroad! Peru has definitely left a mark on me.
As a volunteer for the NGO I participated in many projects in such a short time! Time flew! These are some of the projects that my team and I were involved in:
Planting day🌱! Although we had to wake up every week at 6:00 it was very fun!
Reforestation to protect the Peruvian “Cortarramas” bird and restore its habitat
Website translation (Spanish and English)
Facebook and Steemit marketing
Buying groceries, etc in Talara for all the ecoFamily
Writing a letter to the Mayor to obtain permission to install our sign
Designing and building a solar distiller to produce drinking water from seawater
Trialling different materials in the dry toilet to reduce water and form compost
Designing a renewable energy system for the rural health clinic to avoid disposing the vaccines after a blackout
Checking the performance of a PV system
In addition, I also learnt how to live with less resources, responsibly use water, deal with extended electrical blackouts, minimize my internet access, travel in overcrowded vans with many people on bumpy dirt rides, recover from frequent food poisoning, survive without a proper hospital in the village and I also learnt about corruption.
All this makes you value what you have at home. I really missed having a hot shower! 🚿
Apart from this, Lobitos is a great place to learn to surf, go fishing, eat ceviche, watch the sunset, learn spanish, see wild animals in front of your house, and even swim with turtles!
It was sad to say goodbye so soon, I would’ve loved to see my major project finished. Thanks for everything! I wish you the best and that you are very successful with your future endeavours. I will recommend this experience to everyone who asks me!
🌄And Machupicchu… WOW! This place is magical and amazing! I almost didn’t make it, but after two flight cancellations, driving to another airport, convincing the airline to change my flights, hotel cancelations, losing my laptop and suitcase, not sleeping at all and so on, I arrived just in time to catch the train to Machupicchu. This place really captivated me. But don’t get too excited and climb very quickly, otherwise you might feel the altitude sickness!”
“I never thought a simple google search would lead me to one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I’ve wanted to study marine biology for as long as I can remember and I figured, what better way to know for sure that this is the right path for me than to get out there and see and be apart of the work that is involved? Global Nomadic happen to be one of the first three websites I clicked on and it seemed to be the most organized as opposed to the others and boy am I glad I chose this project. Initially arriving on the island of Ishcia there was an apparent language barrier but the locals were more than happy to help assist me in finding where I needed to go. I arrived a day and a half early to the project and stayed at the Hotel Gemma. They were very accommodating considering I had not made previous arrangements for my stay. They had complimentary breakfast every morning and the gentleman working the front desk let me borrow his phone charger during my stay until I purchased the correct wall plug in piece.
Upon arriving to the Jean Gab I was greeted by the researcher, Hayley, who immediately offered me drink and food after helping me get my luggage into the boat. I was given a tour of the boat and once the rest of the volunteers arrived we were given a very informative orientation and a basis of our itinerary for the week. The first day out sailing I unfortunately got sea sick, but I was resilient and determined to gain as much from this project as possible. We ended up having a Sperm whale sighting that very day, come to find out the whale was not yet in the database! It was a perfect way to end a rough start to the day. I also participated in photo identying previous dolphin sightings as well as collected data on the the birds we saw. I firmly believe this organization is making a significant impact in their cause. There was impeccable team work amongst the volunteers.
We each took turn in cooking and cleaning. I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for Angelos generosity and willingness to share not his boat, but his knowledge of the sea and his personal experiences. On the days we weren’t able to sail we visited the local resorts and shops as well as snorkeling in the bays around the island. Prior to this trip I had an extreme fear of boats and large bodies of water in general. I can confidently say I have defeated this fear, much of which was due to the support and encouragement of the volunteers and Hayley especially. It was bittersweet when it came time to leave but I now have full affirmation that this is a career I want to pursue and I’m looking forward to going back next year!”
“Let me say that this is my first trip to Asia on my own. It was not as much the teaching I feared but coping with insects and other unexpected things. My challenges was to not let my fear of insects and other animals overcome my desire of making a difference by teaching childeren. So far I dealed with that part but still am not a fan of anything that creeps and crawls into my room or near my feet.
As of the teaching I had a great experience. It is completely different from how I teach in Holland. For starters, this is a summerschool that gives children the opportunity to improve their English. I expected to teach at a school in a local town with children that have no English at their school and through volunteers get the opportunity. Nevertheless I was an overal good experience. I had to teach with little means, smallest classroom, no books, table and little space to do energizers. Some children were eager to speak, others so shy it was hard to get a word out. But still I had to make sure it was an hours lesson well spend. I think i’ve made a difference by making the lessons fun, interactive and with a lot of enthousiasm. The children got more open to speak and I was very positive about their speaking skills.
The director, Mr. Lang and his staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and at home. They help wherever they can, take you out to see places and trust you with their students. I think childeren are lucky to come to Di La center as all teachers are enthousiastic and loving towards the children.
I am proud of the fact that I’ve always said to want to teach abroad and now I did. And also that despite of teaching being different than what I am used to, I was able to give fun interactive lessons.
I would definitely recommend this program to others.”