Alumni Spotlight: Sarah OBrien


Sarah is from rural Victoria in Australia. She has completed a Science Degree as well as a Graduate Diploma in Education. She has worked at a very small country town high school for the last 15 years teaching science to 12-18 year olds.

Why did you pick this program?

I choose this program as I have always been interested in animals, really wanted to give back to the environment, and to feel needed and useful. I wanted to get back to basics and put animals first. All the animals at the Wildlife Rescue Centre have been confiscated from the illegal trade, which allowed me to work in a place where the priority is care of the animals, rather than making a profit from them. There is still so much education to be done in Indonesia regarding animal welfare. Within this program they also offer Community English Classes (for free) and run a Kid's Club (for free) at the local school about conservation and sustainability.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Just do it! It was an amazing experience that I think everyone should take. To be abroad and accept different cultures and learn new languages makes you realize how good we have it back home.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Make sure you pack long sleeve shirts and long pants, preferably cotton. Knee-length socks are great too, as you wear gumboots. Respect the culture and be open to everything and anything. You won't need to pack DEET insect repellent as they give you the preferred repellent to wear around the animals.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Wow, how to choose one favorite story?

Here is one that I tell most: While I was at the Wildlife Rescue Centre there was a baby sun bear (3.5kg). She had been confiscated from the illegal trade along with 13 other species. She was still being bottle feed formula when I arrived. While there, I was lucky enough to help work on her large indoor enclosure from start to finish. I also got to see her transition into the new, bigger enclosure with not just one but two hammocks. My favorite moment was seeing her investigate her new surroundings. Another favorite moment was when she needed to be exercised - I had to run around with this beautiful little sun bear chasing after me.