Internship Programs in Bali

A Senior Volunteer Story

An interview with Ute, a retiree from Germany

In the heart of Bali's marine conservation efforts, a seasoned adventurer and retiree from Germany, Ute Wendker, shares her experience as a senior volunteer in a Turtle Conservation Center through Bali Internships Program. At the age of 77, Ute's journey defies conventional notions of age limitations, as she delves into the world of turtle conservation with enthusiasm and dedication. From the shores of the Galapagos Islands to the sandy beaches of Bali, here is Ute's story about her motivations, challenges, and profound connections with marine life. 

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“My name is Ute Wendker, a 77-year-old retiree from Germany, and I recently had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Bali Internships Program, specifically focusing on marine conservation, turtle rehabilitation, and environmental awareness. I'd like to share my experiences and insights with you, hoping to provide valuable information for anyone considering a similar journey”.

Choosing the turtle program: A Personal Connection

The decision to join the turtle project was deeply rooted in my love for these majestic creatures. A few years ago, I had the privilege of snorkeling alongside a giant turtle in the Galapagos Islands, an encounter that left a lasting impression. Watching documentaries further fueled my interest, motivating me to actively contribute to the conservation of these magnificent beings.

Initial impressions and learning opportunities

Upon arriving in Bali, I was immediately impressed by the diversity of turtles at the conservation center. From informative tours for tourists to hands-on tasks like tank cleaning and seaweed collection, I gained valuable insights into the daily life of turtles and the conservation efforts in place. Participating in the hatching of a nest just before Christmas was a highlight, providing a sense of fulfillment and connection to the cause.

Challenges and rewards in senior volunteering

Despite my age, I found the experience physically engaging and mentally stimulating. Walking on the beach, picking up seaweed, and interacting with fellow volunteers—mostly younger individuals from diverse backgrounds—added a unique dimension to my journey. It was enlightening to observe their activity and witness their dedication to marine conservation.

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Free time and personal reflections

In my free time, I often visited the beach, although the heat posed a challenge. This program allowed me to engage with tourists, learning about their motivations and sharing my passion for turtle conservation. The stark reality of plastic pollution saddened me. Personally, I wish that I could clean all the plastic trash on the beach myself and contribute to a cleaner environment, even though I know that it's merely not possible.

Most enjoyable aspects of the program

Talking to people, especially tourists, and understanding their appreciation for turtle conservation brought me joy. Witnessing the dedication of visitors to learn about and admire these creatures reinforced the importance of our efforts. I think this experience provided a platform to educate and inspire, giving way for a deeper connection between humans and nature.

Bali in Three Words: Beautiful Island, Environmental Concerns

Reflecting on my time in Bali, I'd describe it as a beautiful island, albeit with concerns about excessive tourism and plastic pollution. My laughter at the abundance of tourists is tempered by a genuine worry about the impact on the environment, particularly the turtles we work so hard to protect. In conclusion, my Bali Internships' experience has been enriching, enlightening, and at times challenging. I encourage anyone passionate about marine conservation, regardless of age, to consider this program, contributing to the vital cause of preserving our oceans and their incredible inhabitants.

By Billy Bagus

Did you get inspired by Ute's story?