The rest is ancient history.
What first races through your mind when you're given the opportunity of a lifetime? Exhilaration, excitement, euphoria. Then anxiety, expectation and self-consciousness. As the emotions settled and the news came to bear and the initial ecstasy of acceptance ebbed all that was left was doubt of my self-worth and whether I'd be cut out for something like this. How was I supposed to use my BA Hons in HISTORY effectively at a shark research station? How'd I even land the gig? Spiralling into self-pity I miraculously managed to catch myself. My focus had been on my inadequacies but they had nothing to do with why I'd been selected to intern at the lab in the first place. People don't dole out opportunities like these carelessly and presumably they must've seen something in me that would be valuable to the Lab. I won't repeat to you the list of strengths I muttered to myself in that moment of reassurance as that would be ridiculously indulgent and I'd get ripped to shreds by the others here at the Lab. But if you are interested in my background check out my profile on the Shark Lab website *plug* or even my Instagram (@ko.away) *plugplugplug*. The 35 hour journey from Singapore was an emotional rollercoaster climbing to wide grins and plunging to nail-biting nervousness.
Upon arriving I realized the needlessness of my worry. Sat around a set of plastic tables introducing themselves before dinner was one of the most diverse group of people I'd ever had the privilege to meet. Fishermen, project students, aspiring conservationists, photographers, researchers, aquarium mermaids, parasail operators and even a cook. Teamwork makes the dream work, I thought to myself a few days later, seeing how everyone had been picked and a group assembled that was so capable in so many different things and ways that we seldom found ourselves wanting. So then.. what would I like to say to you, dear reader, perhaps an aspiring volunteer or an avid fan of the work that is done here at the lab? I'd like to say that the Shark Lab, as amazingly unique a place as it is, demands all the same things from you as the regular workplace. Commitment, determination, respectfulness and adaptability. What sets it apart then, is that as I've practiced these values here at the lab, I've learnt more about not only shark research and fieldwork (which is pretty easy when you start at about 0) but also about myself than I have anywhere else before. The people working at the lab are inspirational in all senses of the word, from their infectious passion for the ocean to all their diverse strengths and admirable characters, they provide you with a bottomless pit of knowledge that you could plunge into and use to constantly better yourself.
Eight weeks ago I took a deep breath and dove in, and the rest is ancient history.
Happy volunteers after beautifully repainting the Sharklab!