Written by Hyeon Hee Do
It was a great honor for me to work at the EAAFP Secretariat for the last six months. During the internship period, I got lots of valuable lessons from outstanding staff in the Secretariat and especially from my supervisor like professional communication skill. Among them, the most valuable learnings are: 1) the importance of conservation, 2) the importance of cooperation with stakeholders in organizing a meeting, and 3) various computer and IT skills that I never used before.
Before joining the Secretariat, I was not that into environmental issues; I hadn’t really thought about migratory birds (waterbirds) and environment conservation. That is the reason why I hesitated to apply for this organization in the beginning. At this moment, at the end of internship, however, I think I made a good choice. I learned a lot of bird species and environmental knowledge while working at the Secretariat. Fortunately, there were chances to go birdwatching during my internship. I had never seen birds up close before. It is a little embarrassing to say, but I thought why people are going for birdwatching instead of travel when I had no experience of it. However, upon closer look with a scope, the birds were more adorable than I expected. Then, I realized why there are so many bird watchers out there. Not only that, I participated in lots of meetings/workshops on conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats and those related. I learned a lot from experts from various countries discussing for improving and arguing for conservation works there. The world is not only for human beings. All life should co-exist, in that regards, it is crucial for human to work for environment conservation. I would like more people to know about the beauty of the bird world.
The EAAFP Secretariat is having lots of meetings in the various levels of scale in Korea and even abroad for conservation itself in the East – Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF) and provide strategic plan to improve the work. Many of them are organized or co-organized by the Secretariat. The most unforgettable meeting during the internship was the tenth Meeting of Partners (MoP10) held in Hainan, China in December 2018. The MoP is the biggest meeting organized biennially by the Partnership. All staff members were busy and in burden for preparing this important meeting for several months. However, no one complained about the burdens and helped each other find away whenever colleagues faced difficulties in their works. Even during the event, one week long and quite busy going, pushed and pulled each other with smile on their faces. The Secretariat is composed of only 11 people, it would definitely be demanding to handle the meeting gathering about 200 people from 18 countries. But with the perfect teamwork, we could make a success in organizing this meeting without a big mistake. Through participating in hosting this meeting, I learned the importance of cooperation once again.
Last but not the least, as working as a member of the Secretariat, I had opportunities to learn how to deal with computer programs I had never used: WordPress, Adobe Illustrator, C-Panel, and various social media channels. Even though I was a Programme Assistant in the Secretariat, I had to handle IT-related tasks as well because there was no IT intern during my internship period. WordPress is the main task that I had to deal with instead of IT intern. It is software for managing the EAAFP website. Even though it is the easiest software compared to others, it was challenging for me to work with. Every time I faced difficulties I googled how to fix the problem. With many trials and errors, now I can solve the problems within the software by myself. Furthermore, I can quickly complete the assigned tasks related to this. If there were an IT intern, I would have not experienced in using the computer related works. The major point at the workplace is to make the best use of my ability, but still learning a new skill is also important for the future contribution. So I am so thankful for having been able to take this opportunity.
It is hard for me to describe all the lessons I learned from each Secretariat member I worked with, but still, all were priceless and helpful for me. And I can truly say that it is an unforgettable experience for me to work with outstanding staff. Eleanor Roosevelt said that “the purpose of life is to live, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” Even though I am leaving the Secretariat for other journeys, I would like to work with the Secretariat later. Moreover, I will continuously work hard for people’s awareness of the works EAAFP does and practice conservation works that I can do in my daily life.