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Ulovane Update June Semester Week 10





How we got to the end of these ten weeks, none of us are quite sure! It was a busy, fun-filled, and adventurous Apprentice Field guide course! Dominic has written a wonderful wrap-up of their time here!

The sad awaited packing that will take us on our return to our original paths, has finally arrived. The place we have called home for a full ten weeks will now only be remembered in memories and the stories told about our encounters.
Ulovane has offered a wonderful and exciting experience for the eight of us who were on the Apprentice Field guide course together. We are now well associated with one another and life-long friendships have been formed. All of us have extremely different backgrounds and this truly offered a unique experience, often resulting in remarkably interesting stories being shared around the campfire. One of the quotes used around the Ulovane Campus is that “You arrive as strangers and leave as family”.
To all the instructors who have shared their continuous knowledge and left us speechless multiple times with their unique interpretations of the natural world unfolding to our amateur eyes, we cannot THANK YOU enough. All the instructors were constantly willing to go the extra mile, paving new roads we were not aware of, to open new doors for us to truly reach our optimum potential.

Coronavirus and the lockdown implemented in South Africa only made us hungrier to strive for success once we all arrived. An inside joke shared by the students was that we are a lucky group, because of the animal sightings we have encountered, and we believe this is because of the wait we had before we could arrive here (due to the lockdown restrictions), but the wait was worth it for one of the most memorable parts of our lives thus far yet!
This inside joke has made choosing the best memory of the course extremely difficult. We have been fortunate to witness lazy lions lying around their waterbuck kill; cheetah gorging themselves on a black wildebeest; the entire herd of elephant making their way through our sleepout on Amakhala Game Reserve, as well as a testosterone-filled young male elephant charging a fearless female ostrich off her nest of eggs.

Our group of students has been given all the resources and training needed to operate as an Ethical Guide around Africa. Each student was able to offer a different experience on our final practical game drives and this may be due to the fact that we all came from different paths. Besides learning new theories and facts from guides, students were also able to share experiences and knowledge with one another giving a unique interpretation of certain aspects of work.

I would love to believe that all the students were able to learn new skills and will not be leaving as the same people that arrived. After interviewing the fellow students and asking them what personal growth they made and what they have learnt over the course, this is what they had to say:

  • Kian gave us an answer to the questions by saying that he had matured and become more independent.
  • Blanche said that she managed to gain good skills when it comes to teamwork and that she became more independent.
  • Reece said that he learned how to be more responsible and self-confident. As well as the master of birds himself, Piet, sparking a birding interesting in himself and Melissa helping to further ignite the passion for nature within Reece’s soul.
  • Tim said that he personally believes that his confidence has improved significantly and that he is now able to eat certain food items, such as chili!
  • Simon has said that he has made many personal growth achievements and that sleeping outdoors is not for the faint-hearted.
  • I believe that I have grown as a person, being able to share certain information a lot easier and not becoming tongue-twisted in my words, as well as truly confirming my calling in life.
  • Hannah said that her biggest aspect of personal growth was that Ulovane had given her a platform to express herself and reveal her increased passion for nature.
  • Tyler replied by saying that he really enjoyed the tracking aspects, making him more resilient and motivated and that he has built incredibly good friendships.

I would like to believe that the students have had an impact on our head instructor’s life too. After asking Justin, our head instructor, a few questions this is the feedback we were given.
Justin said that our group had influenced everybody around campus due to our energy and enthusiasm, making it a pleasure to teach and share knowledge with. Our thirst for knowledge made teaching enjoyable and helped grow his passion and interest through practical time experience.

Our journey may be coming to an end, although we aren’t away from our home away from home for long, and this has definitely created a grey cloud over our heads. Although the days may fade, the memories will last an eternity.
We are all fortunate enough that our intake of students would like to go onto the Apprentice Trails guide course, and we all cannot wait to create more memories as a group of friends.

The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience. Emily Dickinson


Wian has joined us here at Ulovane for our four-week Marine guide course. He has written a short account for you all on his experiences this far!

Where to start… From the day I arrived at Ulovane Environmental Training, it just felt like home! Everybody was so friendly and just became my family.
The opportunities they provide for us are so awesome; just being able to experience and to see how things work from another perspective. I am sure you have read in the previous week’s blogs, about our incredible boat trip out on the ocean, but I mention it again here as it really was so spectacular to see such a huge pod of dolphins and all the penguins on St. Croix. To learn about how they live and how they “operate”, and to receive all the information provided to us, was awesome.

The beach walks we have with Shani are so interesting! There is just always something to learn. My favorite thing about our whole experience thus far was definitely the snorkeling!! It is fascinating to see and know all the algae and the fish, even if we didn’t see fish that we learned about from our species list. It has also been wonderful learning about the shells and what their purpose is in the ocean realm.
When we have a short break, we tried our luck with fishing rods a bit and try our luck at catching, which we have been very lucky with on a few occasions, catching some stumpnose and blacktails! It was interesting talking to the locals and hearing what they had to say about the fishing and how bad it has gotten over the years.

Every time we went out walking for our beach observations, we would clean up a bit… It’s really so so sad to see what people really think of, and how they treat their environment, but hopefully one day we can help people open their eyes and we can all make a difference.
I’m really happy that I chose Ulovane and I will highly recommend them to anybody who is really passionate about nature.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin