Alumni Spotlight: Lucy Elmer

She is currently on her gap year, post school, and after working for the first 8 months she went backpacking around South East Asia where she volunteered at WRC Jogja for a week, before returning home to start University.

Why did you pick this program?


I really wanted to see Orangutans whilst travelling around South East Asia and was looking for ideas of places to go to see them and found the WRC Jogja program online. After about a minute of looking at the pictures and reading about how you can work alongside such a variety of animals, which she would never have had the chance to see otherwise, she chose the program.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

The cultural experience side to the program was not advocated enough and was an amazing surprise. I wished someone had told me I would be helping to teach an English class, be attending a Javanese home dinner and would have free time to explore Jogja (the waterfalls, watch the sunset at Kaliburu, go to a Javanese ballet etc.).

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Lucy at work

How important these rescue centres are for animals. The back stories for the animals are so heart wrenching it is hard to believe anyone could treat them so badly. Without volunteers and donations these centres could not exist, whenever I go travelling next I will be sure to book a week of volunteering in.

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

Definitely do it! It really is an amazing experience for anyone who loves to care and work alongside animals. Do not expect to be petting the animals as ultimately they are wild and should not be domesticated, but you do get to work in close proximity and see animals you may never see otherwise.

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

I was climbing on top of an enclosure for a baby and mother Orangutan, trying to hang a fruit mobile from the ceiling. When the baby climbed up and stole my welly, trying to bring it through the bars, trying to balance whilst still positing their fruit the mother came and held on to her toe.

What made this experience unique and special?

Group picture

The keepers are very friendly, ready for a laugh, eager to improve their English and also clearly care for the animals they look after. Each keepers has a group of animals and during the program you are assigned to almost all of the keepers, maximising your exposure to such a variety of animals. I started my week with the birds, moving on to the monkeys and Orangutans and by the end of the week she was with porcupines, deers and crocodiles.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

On one of the evenings we were going to a traditional Javanese dinner at someone's house. On route we decided to stop at the local Alun Alun in Jogja where there was a music festival, around the crowd of people sitting, chatting and listening to music were people practicing how to roller skate amongst cones.

After the concert we went on to our dinner where we cooked Bakwan with the family and broke the day's fast for Ramadan. The atmosphere of the whole evening was so different to anything in London and learning about a new culture was a really lovely experience.