Social Media Volunteer

Kia ora! Hello! Hai!

Maddy here, I am a social media volunteer at TRACC- here until the end of January to share with you what the TRACC experience is all about. Every few days I will be posting up interviews with people at TRACC, explanations about what we have been up to during the week and lots of photos!

About me:

I am a 23 year old kiwi from a little place called Nelson. I grew up loving the water- spoilt for choice in New Zealand. I spent the past five years studying at Otago University and decided that at the end of it I wanted to take a break, to challenge myself and to see a bit more of the world. I came across TRACC while searching the internet for dive volunteer opportunities. I got my open water dive licence in 2014 in Nicaragua- it was here that my eyes were opened to the incredible world that lives in our oceans. My first time diving brings back childish feelings of new discovery, of feeling like a true alien in an environment so different from our on shore world. Diving also made me recognise that there is so much vulnerable life beneath our waters that deserve protection. Being in a privileged position to be able to observe the underwater world brought to me a sense of responsibility. This was always niggling in the back of my mind throughout my studies, but I had little opportunity to get out and dive. TRACC offered to me a way to learn more about the oceans and to be proactive in their protection. I signed up as soon as I found it.

The arrival

After spending 1 week on peninsula Malaysia enjoying the sights and sounds (and food!) I took an early morning flight from KL to Tawau. I arrived at the small airport to be met by TRACCs "fixer guy", Ujang, who introduced me to three other volunteers before putting us in a shuttle headed for Semporna. We arrived in the bustling seaside town of Semporna and were dropped at the tourist jetty. We met a couple of TRACCs long term volunteers and then waited a couple of hours while the shopping was finished and the boat was loaded up.

The boat trip was spent observing beautiful surrounding islands, stilt house villages and flying fish, enjoying the breeze, and trying to figure out which island was PomPom! After about an hour we arrived in paradise. I had seen photographs, but in the early evening light PomPom exceeded my expectations. White sand beach, crystal blue water, and a rustic wooden jetty leading up to my new home. We were warmly greeted by the other volunteers and given a tour of the site- the classroom, the communal dining/living area, the kitchen, the longhouse, the bathrooms, and the tents.   I put my bag down in my tent (surprisingly spacious, with a bed, power and a fan!) and already felt at home.

We had a delicious meal together (see the picture!). After a round of introductions we were then given an induction by the science interns aboutTRACC, how it operates, and what we could look forward to seeing in the water. We sat around chatting a bit longer before I took myself to my tent- knackered and content.