Text and Photos by Garnette Nawin
Hello everyone! My name is Garnette Nawin. I’m a 20 year old Sarawakian from East Malaysia. I am from Miri, Sarawak and I’m currently doing my second year of Diploma in Animal Health and Production. It was funny at first when I got lost searching for the BSBCC here in Sepilok, Sandakan, because everything that I had imagined was not as expected. Gladly my supervisor, Thye Lim, never got tired of me asking questions, and just by describing the entrance of BSBCC through the phone, he had successfully showed me the way to the visitors centre. I was so anxious and nervous as it was truly my first experience to be so far away from my hometown doing an internship about the Sun Bears. I was greeted by two very friendly staffs from BSBCC, Rahim (also my housemate) and Fairo, upon my arrival. They showed me around the visitors centre and the staffs’ office and had made me feel like home already. At that time Wong, the CEO and Founder of BSBCC, was not around so the other intern students and I got a short and interesting briefing by Tee Thye Lim, our supervisor in doing the internship programme. He introduced about the background of the centre and also showed us around the Bear Houses.
I got more excited when I got to meet two of the international volunteers which were Tom and Rica, the lovely couple that always warmed my heart with their sweet smiles and guidance. Although I only had the chance to work with them for a few days, they had already made me excited as I’d never had the feeling of working together with adults as a team. What more to say when they are from the other side of the world. Silly me! Haha!
Then, the most exciting part was when I got to see the bears at the observation platform. I have no idea that they existed in Borneo. All I knew was mostly about the Orang Utans and Monkeys. Yes, that’s all I knew. As it was the first time seeing the bears it made me ask multiple questions to Thye Lim and he kindly explained almost everything about them to me. Knowing that I would get the chance to work with the bears the next day had got me more excited. Haha!
Same goes to Lin May as the Researcher and the Reintroduction Officer. As far as I know, she would always be there when I have to consult her with questions and information. To sum it up, all of the staffs here at BSBCC act as a big family and would always be there first when you have any problems. Also, of course safety and healthy are always the “top” ranking being applied when we carried out our work. Work hard, play hard!
Working at the Bear House with the keepers and also workers that were under the bear care unit taught me a lot of unexpected knowledge. I got to know the behaviours and especially the personalities of each bears. Although there are only 35 rescued bears at the moment, I still had difficulty recognizing certain bears from a distance when I was at the observation platform as they have similar body size. Besides that, unlimited enrichment activities are given to the bears, whether it is in the form of food or the opposite way. The centres mission is to let the bears learn by themselves and our job is to provide them with as many things as possible. Each and every bear also have their own proportions of porridge and supplement. This is needed for the particular bears that have a health problem or injuries or wounds.
Working with the supervisor and the other staffs has taught me about punctuality and being disciplined in carry out every day work, even from other aspects. Of course, excuses are totally not allowed! Being here at BSBCC helped me so much in improving my communication and language skills, especially in English. Not just in the form of meeting other international volunteers and countless visitors every day, but in the form of how to approach them and greet them with a warm and sincere smile.
Being here as one of the intern students taught me countless of amazing experiences and not to forget that the challenges were more than I had expected. But for me, that was the fun part. The longer I have stayed here, the more that I have taught myself that there is much more to learn and to learn despite the activities and work being conducted are almost the same every day. Lucky me having got the chance to discover the BSBCC’s website on the internet where it is just one click away! Gaining the precious experiences here has made me wonder that the period of only 10 weeks is not close to enough.
Before saying goodbye, let’s share with you guys some photos I’ve taken during my time at BSBCC!
Working here was not easy, challenges were much to face but I can guarantee there is super extreme fun that awaits you! Grab the precious chance to work with the staffs here in taking care of the bears then spread the news everywhere you go! If I were to tell you about all my experiences during my time here at BSBCC, I could go on for countless pages. Do it for the bears as they have the right to live in the wild again in the future.