Seribuat – Part II

by rachel

Part II of Seribuat Reflections!!

Here are the learning outcomes that I will be covering in this reflection:

  • Working collaboratively with others
  • Planned and initiated activities
  • Consider ethical implications
  • Engaged with issues of global importance
  • Increased awareness of your strengths and areas for growth

I will probably in the course of this reflection group a number of them together!

Working collaboratively with others

Basically stranded on a series of islands together, as a group all of us instinctively grew closer. Without each other, we never would have made it through, our common presence encouraging each other to keep the morale up and get what needs to be done, done.

I think one point during which this particularly struck me was on the last day. The last day was one of the hottest days that we we experienced while there, and it was also the day we needed to clean out all the kayaks, fit them back into the bags etc. It was so hard to get ourselves moving to do the work but honestly what motivated me more than anything else was seeing other people trying their best to work and get the job done despite the heat as well. So broom in hand we got started sweeping the sand and dirt off the kayaks, drying them and then rolling them under the over-zealous smile of the sun.

Perhaps due to a combination of heat exhaustion as well as growing familiarity with the way each other worked, we begun to do all this nearly soundlessly, other than the words of encouragement that piped up every once in awhile to keep us going. Truly, without the presence of the rest of my teammates I think I would have been a lot more likely to succumb to the sun and the heat, giving up on the kayaks. But working together, we managed to get the job done quickly and soon we were all ready to head back home!

Planned and initiated activities & Consider ethical implications 

The reason why I’m joining these two categories together is because there was one particular activity I initiated as a result of some ethical considerations. On Day Four we were stranded on the island when kayak after kayak capsized on the way back out into the sea. Unfortunately, upon capsizing the trash on the various kayaks also spilled out. By the time we gave up trying to kayak out into the sea, the entire beach was littered with trails of our rubbish. Initially we thought that perhaps it wasn’t our rubbish and had been left there before we arrived but upon closer inspection… kong guan biscuit wrappers, sweet potato price tags, muesli bars… it had to be us. Looking around at the trash on the beach I felt so bad. We definitely didn’t do it on purpose but nevertheless all the leftover wrappers, plastic,  foil were all going to stay on the beach or in the sea for a long time to come. Because of this, I began picking up the wrappers around me, asking people to join in as I went along. Wrapper after wrapper, all the people left on the beach began to join in, walking across the shore picking up the trash that lay all around. Many hands make light work and soon we managed to pick up hopefully every piece of trash that we had accidentally left behind. Looking at the beach that was back in the condition we had found it in, I was so glad that as a team we’d taken the effort to pick up the rubbish we’d almost left behind. Also, in that moment I realised that a lot of the times, you don’t have to overtly give instructions to the entire group, coercing them to work with you. Leading by example, starting a positive movement will eventually rub off on others whose actions will again impact others and eventually as a group we would then be able to make a real impact.

Engaged with issues of global importance

Of course, one global issue that an incident like this alerted me to was pollution of our environment, whether land or sea, natural or constructed. Over the course of our trip there were so many times where I begun to see just how small we were in the context of the world, whether when we were stuck out at sea drifting on waves we had no control over or simply bobbing around near shore listening to Mr. Rezal give geography lectures in the midst of everything that he was talking about – shores, caves, rock formations etc.

Seeing all this and seeing how beautiful all this was and then seeing rubbish float around in the sea, bottles strewn recklessly in the sand was a stark reminder of what we were doing to our environment. Admittedly, sometimes despite trying our best to keep our trash together, things can happen causing them to be littered all over again. Whether this means capsizing or an animal coming in the middle of the night and ripping our trash bag open. Each time, it isn’t pleasant picking up the trash all over again but it is important. Over the course of this trip I seemed to have a special affinity with trash hahaha, packing it up again in the morning after our trash bag had been ripped over at night and picking the perishable apple cores out of the non-perishables trashbags. After 5 days of being around nature, things that I normally would have considered gross became things that were necessary to do.

It makes you wonder, if we find it so gross to have all these things lying around, touching us, why do we find it okay to leave them all over the spaces that have no use at all for these pieces of trash and can do nothing to remove them? Going out on these trips, nature with all its wild ways provides us with the opportunity to grow but at the same time we must take care not to spoil it for those after. I remember something that was distinctly repeated over and over again from green beans meetings – It’s not about going out there and conquering nature, it’s about going out there, working in tandem with nature and learning through it.

Increased awareness of your strengths and areas for growth

I think over the course of this trip I’ve witnessed so many different styles of leadership that I really want to learn from, for example being more approachable and being clear while not stringent in times of stress. I also have this tendency to cut people out a bit when things get tense or I’m really tired so that’s also something that I hope to be able to work on over the course of this year.

But through this expedition I’m also glad to have pushed myself to persevere and to be able to do what feels right to me despite it being out of my comfort zone. This is something that’s very important to me and that I hope to be able to continue developing.

Seribuat has been such a valuable experience and despite the fact that we never actually made it to Seribuat, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.