Shazna joined the People and the Sea Team in the Summer of 2022. She was a fourth year student from the University of San Carlos (Cebu City) where she was studying for a Bachelors degree in Marine Biology.
Her internship formed part of her ‘on the job training’ – a requirement for the completion of her course. Here she continues her with the reflections of her time on Malapascua with the PepSea team.
The entire internship was exciting, but what sticks out among all the memories I had with the PepSea team was when they toured me to the entire Malapascua Island on foot. It was not physically tiring, but the experience taught me that traveling to Malapascua without using vehicles was possible. Aside from that, I could talk to the team on our way to our destinations. The experience allowed me to know more about the people I was working with and personally made me relate to them. Furthermore, they also taught me lessons they learned in their lifetime, which I pushed myself to learn because maybe one day it might help me in my life too. I will also never forget the coffee breaks that we collectively take in the morning and sometime in the afternoon; some may see it as caffeine addiction, but in my eyes, it is the bonding that we share during those coffee breaks that makes it special no matter how simple it is, the boisterous laughter from Ate Judith, the jokes of Kuya RC, the never-ending talk with Ate Vangie and Ate Mattie, the little pauses we make when Sam talks to us in English because a part of us has to process before we respond, the hilarious banters between Ate Mitch and Mikey, and of course the “Tito jokes” from Daff. The stream of events sounds simple, but the moment’s simplicity makes it core memory worthy.
If I were to tell something to the people who are interested in volunteering for People and the Sea, it would be “prepare yourselves and be ready to embrace everything that is about to happen” because being a volunteer in PepSea, everything is unpredictable; one day you will find yourself working with the community the next day you would be working in the scientific aspect of things. Although it may sound challenging, it is actually more exciting than it is because it opens your eyes to new perspectives, and it allows you to correlate science and its impact on the community. There will also be times that you will face difficulties, whether in fieldwork, community work, or trying to understand the scientific concepts; know that in times of difficulty, the entire PepSea team has your back, and they will always be your first line of defense.
I can still remember my first week in the program. I had a sit-down conversation with Sam, who explained the output I had to finish while in the program. Before we even started planning the day-to-day activities, he mentioned that it is easier to simplify things and break down bigger tasks into smaller tasks, a skill I did not think was important. During my internship, I have seen the value of that skill. Aside from having a reduced workload for the day, it allowed me to have leeway to edit and improve my work if it did not fit my standards. After finishing the program, I can say that that specific skill has improved my ability to do work efficiently without sacrificing my well-being. The volunteer program has made me gain confidence in my skills in terms of writing, conducting research or fieldwork, and community engagement. The changes in me were made possible because the team from People and the Sea never failed to guide me in times of confusion and always encouraged me to do my best, especially in times of doubt.