I chose the Mongolian project, Wildlife of the Mongolian Steppe, because I wanted to experience a part of the world that I hadn't visited before. I wanted to have the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture and way of life that I had only ever seen in TV documentaries, a way of life that seemed a million miles away from my own. To be surrounded by wonderful wildlife was also very attractive.
Why did you pick this program?
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Do it! Everyone should join at least one Earthwatch expedition in their lifetime and I would not hesitate to recommend the trips to anyone. Earthwatch gives ordinary people the opportunity to not only have amazing and unique experiences but also to take an active part in conservation around the world.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
The project site is in a remote area and you will be living in Ghers for 10 days with very basic facilities. Earthwatch provides very detailed briefings for each expedition which contain all the information you could possibly need, so it is crucial to read it through thoroughly. A prospective volunteer can find out about the project conditions, what to pack, accommodation, etc., and if they have any further questions, there are always the friendly and enthusiastic Earthwatch staff available, as well as past volunteers.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
It is only by getting involved with Earthwatch that I feel I have gained a confidence that I never knew I had as well as a much more in-depth understanding about issues that affect our planet. In volunteering on Earthwatch projects I am now proud to call myself a citizen scientist and truly feel that I am helping in a really constructive and worthwhile way to research that is being carried out around the world.
Claire's thoughts on becoming a 'citizen scientist':
Whatever your profession or circumstance, you can become a citizen scientist and help collect data for researchers and scientists who are passionate about understanding and conserving the world around us. I have met some lovely people and made some wonderful friends around the world which is all part of the opportunities that Earthwatch projects give.