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Rejections, interviews, stress and panic! That’s what most of my friends were talking about when it came to finding a placement for their third year. I on the other hand had sent a polite email to an Eco Lodge located in the rainforests of Southern India and was instantly hired. I even lied to my friends about my “lengthy” recruitment process to compensate for all the difficulties they were going through.

None the less, I got on a plane to Bangalore which was followed by a seven hour taxi ride into the wilderness, bringing me to The Rainforest Retreat. My placement year was spent working at the the eco lodge that was nestled in the heart of an organic coffee and spice plantation. I worked closely with the owners and the manager coordinating the daily activities for the guests. My favourite role was leading the Plantation Tours in which I would bring the retreat guests around the plantation and tell them all about the experimental organic agricultural practices that commenced on site, the plethora of animal and plant life on the retreat and about our conservation methods of protecting the Malabar Gliding Tree Frog. I would also lead treks in to the Western Ghats hillside, conduct presentations on bio–diversity and was in charge of the administrative duties.

Flying-tree-frog

The Malabar Flying Tree Frog (Rhacophorus Malabaricus)

Atlas moth

The Atlas Moth (The world’s largest moth)

Sujata and Anurag, the owners of the retreat and the plantation, were molecular biologists who had a passion to teach the guests about the importance of protecting the biosphere. It was one of my duties to create a bridge between the natural world and a society that seems so far removed from it. This involved a lot of further reading in my spare time. That’s right… I couldn’t even escape a reading list on my placement!

Laurie-and-plantation-owners

Me with Anurag and Sujata, the owners of the plantation and retreat

The retreat attracted a wide variety of guests: eccentric backpackers who wanted to save the world with Ashtanga Yoga, business people who were looking for tranquillity from the bustling Indian cities and scientists who were working on projects with Sujata and Anurag. It was an amazing experience to connect with an eclectic range of people, who came from around the world but yet somehow all found themselves at the retreat.

Laurie-placement-view

My morning view

My experience at The Rainforest Retreat was (dare I say it) life changing. My placement has definitely shaped me as a person and allowed me to see the world clearer. Working for a small business is a fantastic opportunity, you are able to truly integrate yourself within the microcosm of its organisational culture, allowing you to learn and discover all aspects of its operations. If there’s anyone else who’d like to follow in my footsteps and find a similar placement, you should visit ecoteer.com or ecoclub.com.

Rainforest-retreat-team

The Rainforest Retreat Team

By Laurie Byrne, BA (Hons) Tourism Management

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