Wrapping Up - A Student Point of View

Programs for this blog post

Australian Wildlife Conservation From Land to Sea

Authored By:

Ellen Renard

This blog was written by one of our students, Ryan Chan!

G’day! I’m Ryan Chan from San Jose, California, and I have had an absolute blast during my time here in Sydney, Australia! One of my primary goals coming into this program was to learn more about Australia’s incredible, unique wildlife and I have achieved that and so much more. This past week, we concluded our studies of wildlife conservation and Australian culture and made the most of our last few days.

Our final week in Sydney began in the classroom on Monday morning debriefing and discussing our weekend trip to the Blue Mountains. In addition, we furthered our conversation on the devastating effects of climate change on marine and terrestrial life in Australia. Our instructor, Rick, is not only incredibly knowledgeable about practically everything but also enthusiastic about the curriculum and always open to further discussion. I rarely leave class without at least four pages of notes of information that I really could not have learned anywhere else. In the afternoon, for our excursion of the day, we had a private tour of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden. Our tour guide was well-versed in the park’s collection of plants and their uses by Aboriginal people who relied on these very plants for tens of thousands of years. This tour provided incredible insight on Indigenous conservation practices that could be used in the future as we work to mitigate the climate crisis. Before heading off into the city for free time, we walked across the Sydney Harbor Bridge and enjoyed spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and the harbor. It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

On Tuesday, during our final lesson of the program, we learned about conservation as it pertains to tourism. Of course, we have participated in several tourist activities throughout the program but we must also recognize the impacts of those attractions on the environment. Rick talked about the concept of ecotourism: responsible, sustainable tourism that has a minimal impact on the environment and supports conservation efforts. After class, we spent the rainy afternoon at the Australian National Maritime Museum which featured a wide variety of exhibits showcasing the historical and cultural importance of oceans in Australia. My favorite part of the museum was touring the marine vessels located outside in Darling Harbor; the museum had everything from a modern navy vessel to a submarine to a replica of Captain James Cook’s ship, the HMB Endeavour. I found it fascinating observing the evolution of marine transportation as needs and technology advanced.

At the beginning of the program, we were tasked with selecting two program-related topics to research and present, one with a group and the other individually. The goal was to incorporate the knowledge we had acquired throughout the program into our final presentations and showcase the relevance of that information. Wednesday was dedicated to group presentations and my group presented on habitat loss specifically in Australia. While I was slightly nervous in the beginning, I was able to quickly shake off the nerves as everything went smoothly and our presentation turned out really well. To celebrate the end of group presentations, we all took an unplanned trip to Bondi Beach where we spent the afternoon enjoying the warm sun, cool ocean water, and a plethora of local shops and restaurants. This was certainly a trip highlight for me.

On the final day of class, we presented our personal final projects in front of small groups, although some students opted to present in front of the whole class. I presented on the effects of water pollution on humans and marine life, a topic that I am passionate about and felt that I learned a lot about during this program. Sharing my research and other knowledge that I have acquired was really fulfilling, but the best part was seeing other people present on issues that they were passionate about. Moreover, I learned a lot about subjects that I had known nothing about such as conservation economics. Once everyone had presented, we walked down to Market City and Paddy’s Market for lunch and shopping. Paddy’s Market featured a myriad of shops with adorable trinkets, clothing souvenirs, and more at cheap prices, an honest lifesaver for last-minute souvenir shopping. After an afternoon of free time, the day concluded with a show at none other than the Sydney Opera House. Everyone dressed in their finest clothes for the Bangarra Dance Theatre production of Yuldea, an impressive hour-long show depicting the story between an Aboriginal tribe and European colonizers. By the end of the show, I felt completely satisfied not only with the day but with the entire trip. This experience has truly been life-changing and I am so grateful for all of the friends and memories I have made. Until next time, Sydney!