I had the opportunity and pleasure to work with Pleng when she was a Grade 11 student at United World College Thailand (UWCT). At the time, she volunteered to help with the UWCT Grade 5 Education Outside The Classroom (ETOC) kayak and camping trip that I was leading.
We’ve kept in touch and Pleng recently contacted me for a letter of reference as well as pointers and tips on possible internships and volunteer opportunities before she heads to University.
Pleng’s story reminds us why we do what we do as educators! I hope you and your students find her story inspiring!
Good luck Pleng!
What is your main goal and passion related to nature, conservation and sustainability?
I love being around animals that’s what I would say. I can’t stand to see injured or starving animals because I would feel angry and guilty with the world, especially human or myself, to witness how we neglect these wonderful animals to death.
Therefore, my passion is protecting animals as much as I can and make it sustainable, which means people will still carry the thought of animals are important to humans in longtime and forever.
How did you discover your interest in outdoors & nature?
It started since I was young. I was studying in Thai special math and science school since grade 7 what allowed me to learn branches of science in highschool, including environmental science which is a branch of science that I can relate to in daily life.
I would say it’s a benefit of studying science at young age that give me enough time to realize myself what I love in sciences. I started doing my environmental project about mangrove tree experiments at age of fourteen, which brought me on real fields such as mangrove forests, rainforests and scientific laboratories.
Those experiences opened up my mind to every activities about environment such as kayaking, hiking, scuba diving or even extreme sports.
What are you hoping to learn more about?
I’m hoping I can learn more about relationships between human, animals and environment. As a high school student, I have learned some interesting things about the interaction between human; how human act to each other in different situation and impact their behaviour.
I would love to learn and understand more about the connection of human, animals and environment and how these connection bring awareness of protecting each other. I got inspiration from some scientific research that showed singing can impact growth in plants, animals and humans can communicate and understand each others even we speak different language.
Therefore, I hope that my passion for animal conservation and environment will answer these questions of mine.
Do you have any goals or ideas for future projects related to conservation or environmental education?
I want to raise up the awareness of Thai people to the importance of environment and wildlife for the future.
In the past Thais didn’t give much importance to nature or animals. We thought plenty of nature in our country will be the same for long time or forever.
We didn’t give a priority to animals and we treat them like an object as we don’t have any laws to protect animals.
Negligence of taking care of animals in Thailand angered me so much because it shows an inability of being responsible to our natural resources.
Was there any particular events or teachers that helped you realize you want to learn more and do something for the environment?
There are several teachers and events that helped to continually suggest me into environmental mindset. Two years of volunteering with Bodhi dog shelter when I was studying at United World College Thailand, clearly answered me a lot about my life.
The people who are taking care of injured dogs inspired me to help who are in need without any concern of what you are willing to do, and this case is an injured dog. Those injured dogs do not have any right to speak or protect themselves.
Also, thanks to my environmental high school teacher in UWC Thailand, Jalal Tarazi, who saw some passionate environment in myself and supported me as much as he could. Although back at that time I didn’t realize myself that I would be fascinated in environmental education or wildlife conservation anymore.
The conversation we had that drove me to learn and find more about myself with environment is on my graduation day, he said to me with a shine in his eyes that “I hope I will see you learning more in environmental ways”
This seems like a short and normal conversation people would say before a farewell, but it encouraged me a lot to look back at myself who I really am and what I really passion about.
And also Kenny Peavy, my environmental trip supervisor, who I have met on my high school camping when I was supposed to be supervisor for fifth grade students.
He lit my thoughts of being someone to protect nature to me in every activities that he taught the kids. I realized how close we are to nature in every step of living from him via kayaking, camping or having dinner.
Do you have any advice for other students?
If you have some thought of enjoyment to do something even it will be insane for the rest of the world, just do it. That feeling of pleasure never let you down. Because at least you are doing what you have fun with and love. Live for yourself and follow your dreams!