Peru — Work Experience in Peruvian Amazonia
The pupils at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, England (LRGS) go on an unpaid, compulsory Work Experience scheme, at some point of their education to help them get to grips with the world of work. Some students may find a spot at a solicitor’s office, get a job at a lumber yard or even help out at a primary (elementary) school.
But I decided to embark on something very different. I went to the Amazon Rainforest in Peru with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to find out about field research, forestry and wildlife conservation. This was in hopes of seeing what it’s really like to monitor wild animals in the jungle. I am a huge fan of animals and nature, which is also why I am spending this current summer of 2012 as an intern with The Ocean View Foundation on Block Island, RI.
My journey began when we touched down in Puerto Maldonado (Madre De Dios’ capital, Madre de Dios being one of the provinces of Peru) after a 12-hour flight from Amsterdam and a subsequent two-hour flight from Lima, Peru’s capital. After collecting our luggage, my dad and I were met by one of the guides of the Tambopata Nature Reserve. We then set off to the tourist lodge, where I would be spending the first days of my Work Experience.
The lodge was located in the middle of a thick jungle that spanned for miles in every direction, so we were mostly cut off from civilization. We arrived after a three-hour journey by longboat up the river in the picture above. Although I was at a tourist lodge, I was not a tourist. I was assigned tasks from the assistant manager, Jorge Locano. I helped around the lodge and on excursions for the tourists. I also aided in the kitchens and in preparation of the meals. If I was to be an honorary staff member I had to wake up early, at 5 a.m., which was not something I looked forward to!
At the lodge, I interviewed certain members of staff and learned about their jobs, what qualifications they needed, what they studied and so on. I learned that they were very passionate about their work and that they had a range of backgrounds including forest engineering, forestry and tourism. The highlight of the trip was when I scaled a 30-meter tall tree and when I saw the colourful macaws and parrots flying around from the camouflage of a hide (Bird Watching).
From Tambopata we were picked up by the WWF Peru team and began our long drive to Inapari – a Peruvian village located on the border of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. On the way we stopped at several sites where the team normally works and gave technical advice to land owners on how to manage their land in a sustainable way.
These sites included replanted cattle pastures, a rubber tree plantation, a Brazil nut tree plantation and a farm. I watched how they worked. Again, I interviewed some of the WWF staff and translated speech from Peruvian Farmers, to learn about their studies and qualifications, what they had had to do to become what they are and what they do and how they lead their lives. Many of these people are not very well paid for the amount of work they do, but they keep all of the proceeds as they own and work the land themselves.
We spent four days together in the field and then returned to Lima to visit WWF’s Peruvian main headquarters.
This was a fantastic experience for me, and the people I worked with were great hosts. I would like to be able to do more of this kind of work in the future. This kind of work for many people is not simply a 9 to 5 day. For many, their work is their life and visa versa. This experience opened my eyes to the different ways to go about finding a job in this field.