Seventy days, 155 pages of workbook and 15 exams and assessments later we finally made it!
Our last day on the Ulovane Campus was spent with a laughing and a crying eye. On the one side we are all really happy to have achieved our FGASA Level 1 qualification, but at the same time it means that our time together has come to an end.
On to the more to the exciting side of things, we were able to end our time together with an amazing last game drive on Wednesday, where we got to see Elephants, Giraffes, Rhino, a Lioness and many of our antelope species that we have on Amakhala Game Reserve, all topped off by enjoying the view from God’s Window one last time and soaking in the stunning environment we’ve almost been taking for granted the last ten weeks. Sometimes it is necessary to take a moment at a place like that to just sit in silence for some time and remind yourself what you’ve been working for and how blessed you are to be here.
In all honesty, we all had our moments when we were stressed out or overwhelmed, but nothing that time or emotional support from each other could not solve.
That already brings me to the most important thing I learned in the last weeks, apart from all the factual knowledge– teamwork is important. And I’ll try to say this without sounding too arrogant, but we did a flipping good job at it!
Looking back at the last ten weeks we built friendships that will last long even after we depart to continue our lives on different paths, we celebrated great achievements together, had awesome animal sightings daily, gained a lot of knowledge and most importantly been there for each other through the whole process.
As I sit here writing this blog, it seems like such a long time ago when I left my home country, ready to start a new adventure, a bit anxious about what this experience would be like. I guess every one of us had similar thoughts before coming here, including what the people will be like. Seeing it now, there was absolutely nothing to worry about, because we all share the same interests, even though we are here for various reasons. So in the end I can only thank Ulovane for bringing us all together and providing us with the opportunity to create these bonds and give us the experiences and opportunities that they had.
It is time for us to say farewell to the Ulovane Campus. Some are only leaving temporary, others are leaving forever, but nonetheless I’m sure that our paths will cross again.
- Bianca and Celina
A word from their instructor, Justin Barlow
The last course for the year started in October 2018 with 14 students from all parts of the world including South Africa, Germany, Netherlands, Wales and United Kingdom. Starting out as strangers, not knowing each other from a bar of soap as with any group things slowly start shifting into place and common interests are aligned; the main reasoning behind us all gathering for the conservation and preservation of the beauty of the animal kingdom. As we spend more time together, going through the same obstacles and successes, we build towards unity that keeps us together, passionate and enthusiastic. 10 Weeks may seem like a very long time at first, however course in and course out time just flies past and before we realize we are sitting 6 weeks into the course with just a few weeks left, it is incredible to see the progress of each and every student in their own personal development.
The course has had any exciting activities and findings, to name a few including buffalo bulls game capture, finding the first Lesser Grey Shrike for Amakhala Game Reserve records, being part of our reserve’s annual Rhino Remembrance Day memorial, fish surveys to identify key species in our river system as well as practical game drives.
All the students have provided an excellent hosting evening for their guests with delicious food and great company. For those that don’t know what this event is, the students set up their own 3 course menu that they will be preparing for a selected number of guests that include lodge owners, reserve staff members, family and friends. The food is only one component with the majority of the evening being about the ability to host and entertain real guests to provide the learners with the best preparation for a lodge environment with clients. The team did an incredible job that ensured their famous Tiramisu being requested for extra servings to be taken home for midnight snacks or for partners that missed out.
Practical drives went extremely well for the students and it game them the opportunity to show off their potential as guides and what they have to offer the industry.
I am very proud of each student and wish them the best of luck for their future endeavours. Stay who you are and always believe in yourself, you have proven to yourselves that limits are meant to be broken and any goal is achievable with the right attitude and mind set.
Another week has come and gone and it’s almost time to say goodbye to Ulovane for good. We are heading into our final week filled with anxiety and fear of what the future holds but it sure was one hell of a journey up until now. I personally would like to thank everyone that made it possible for me to experience everything I did from the bottom of my heart. Without any of you none of this would be possible.
As we head into our last week I would like to reflect back on what we have experience. Not only did we find a very rare sea creature this week called a Four-Tone Nudibranch and also a Lightning-Strike Flatworm. It was truly a amazing experience to be able to witness these creatures.
We also said good bye to you Field Guide’s this week. I wish you all the best for your futures and welcome those of you that are coming back next year. It is truly a experience you will never forget.
Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. Norman Vincent Peale