Thursday, June 04, 2009

Workshop/course for MOE: My forest is DYING and the role of water quality (Ngee Ann Stream, 4 Jun 09)

If there is a "best job in the world" for me, this is it (for now). How often does one get to work on something one enjoys and get paid for it? (Admittedly, my pay is small change compared to what Ben Southall is getting for being Islands Caretaker starting 1 July.) In my case, I get to breathe nature's fresh air, perform water quality monitoring and teach all in one day. Of course, I must commend my participants for being such wonderful learners and clients to make this course so smooth.

For the educators out there who have never conducted field trips before, let me tell you what you have been missing. No doubt, your participants may complain vehemently during the trip - the usual mozzies, mud, slippery slopes etc. But you can bet that 9 out of 10 of them will feel glad that they made it for the trip which more often than not is voted as the highlight of the course.

The bonding you see in the participants is priceless. In no other courses (without field work) will you ever see such active and mutual support among the participants. The tougher the trip, the more pronounced this is.

This is of course nothing new to groups engaged in outdoor pursuits e.g. cadet corps, rockclimbing, trekking. A variant of this observation has been drilled into me all the way from my scouts days to my army daze. "If people suffer together, they become more united." I certainly do not believe that suffering is necessary in my courses but a little discomfort will go a long way in providing an enriching experience to the participants, mentally and physically.

On a gentler note, I sincerely believe that nobody wants to let his team down. He will try his utmost to fulfill the team's mission even if that means facing discomfort or worse.

After all, how often do you hear your particpants proudly declaring, "we have conquered Ngee Ann Stream"?

Figures (L-R, T-B): Ladies (busy) at work; going out on a limb to get the job done; holding on to one another and the "railing" to navigate the slimy floor; the whole Team at work; group photo at one of the more scenic spots; displaying the badges of honour - muddied shoes and feet; climbing out of the frying pan...; safe and sound in the classroom.

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