Aug 17, 2012

Rescuing The Wildlife Camp: Day 3

Dear guys,

For the last day of the camp, kids are guided around the Ecology Education Park early in the moring. It is so amazing a park that I have seen lots of beautiful birds and butterlies.

I am also very happy that I have captured a bunch of nice photos and recordings. I think my words or photos are not enough to describe ­the scenery as well as to express my appreciation for it. So, I decided to make a short clip for you guys to enjoy.

After the trip, kids play two teamwork games named “Surviving the flood”and “Hunting for food” before having the last lunch of the camp.
Surviving the flood
Hunting for food

In “Surviving the flood” game, kids are supposed to turn the carpet upside down  from green side to orange side while standing on it. Two teams compete and the team who turns the carpet around faster is the winner, which means they survive the flood. The point of this game is that in order to complete the mission successfully, all team members must come up with the strategy and cooperate well during the process. A team leader also plays an important role in driving the success.

In “Hunting for food” game, kids experience to be parents birds searching for worms to feed their baby birds. Different worms are symbolized as different color strings. Green strings which have the same color as grass are the most difficult to find, so that kids understand how hard it is for parent birds to look after their baby birds.

After lunch, kids decorate owl cards to make key chain. Cards are made of plastic and they can get smaller and harder when being put into the baking oven. I am amazed of kids who all have good sense of color mix. Then, kids watch the photos collection of the last two and a half days and receive certificates as well as take pictures with a human-sized owl.

I am glad to play the owl although I have to wear heavy costumes; but kids seem having fun figuring out who is inside the costume. I will remember the camp with lovely and energetic elementary kids who I never get tired of talking and playing with.

Goodbye and see you soon.

Aug 16, 2012

Rescuing The Wildlife Camp: Day 2

Hi guys,
We woke up really early that day (6 am), because we were supposed to go bird-watching. I was really looking forward to that and I was not disappointed. 
Every child got a binocular for bird-watching

After breakfast we had a lecture about birds and played a game, where kids were supposed to assemble pictures of birds, after they were cut to pieces (pictures, not birds:)). The point was to teach them to recognize the birds. It was really fun. 
Assembling the puzzles

Teachers brought an owl into the classroom too, it was really cute.

Then we walked the trail and children were looking for fake injured animals that teachers left there for them.  The fact that the temperature was a little bit lower than the first day helped us to enjoy this activity. They tried to figure out what happened to those animals. After that we played two games: "You are my eyes" and "I want to survive". The first game was about completing an image of an owl. One child held the template for the owl, two children could navigate all the other kids, who were blindfolded and had pieces of the owl. They were supposed to find the template and finish the owl. The point was to make them realize how does it feel to be injured (blind). 
Kids are holding finished templates here
The second game was a physical activity. Two teams of students had to compete: their formed two lines and the goal of every competing pair of students was to run roughly 10 metres and pick up one of the balls faster than the member of the other team. Also, different pairs of students had different injuries: some of them could use just one leg and had to jump on one leg, some of them had to "hold" both legs, signalling injury of both legs, some of them could not use hands and some of them were healthy. The point was, once again, to show how hard life is for injured animals.

His both hands are supposed to be hurt

After lunch we had a lecture on rescuing wild animals. Children were taught not to use iron cages in case they find an injured bird (those can hurt: if the bird tries to jump, it may hurt its wings) and use paper boxes instead; similar rules that will allow them to help more effectivelly in the future. Teachers brought a turtle into the classroom too.

We also played "The Hunter Game". Three kids were chosen as hunters and the rest chosen as the prey. Prey were given rope that they attached to their arms and hunters were supposed to take those ropes. After that, hunters were supposed to "transport" caught "animals" from one point to another. The point was to simulate nature, since some people capture wild animals (first part of the game) and try to sell them to pet stores (second part of the game represents transport of the animals). However, some animals die in the process and this game is supposed to show how destructive that behaviour is.
First part of the game. Animals can't leave the area marked by a rope
Second part of the game, hunters are moving caught animals
After dinner we had lecture about frogs.

I think that's it for the second day. Flora is going to write a report about the third also the last day of the camp.
See you soon:)

Aug 15, 2012

Rescuing The Wildlife Camp: Day 1

Hi guys :)

Today I'm going to write about the first day of the camp dedicated to learning how to rescue the wildlife. This camp was not held in Aowanda, we moved off the mountain to the Endemic Species Research Institute. 32 kids from elementary schools all over Taiwan participated. All of us assembled in Taichung Train Station on Wednesday morning and every child was immediately assigned to a team (we had total of 4 teams). I was in Yellow Group, led by Maggie. When we got to the Endemic Species Research Institute, we went straight to the classroom.

First thing children did was making their name cards and filling out questionnaires that were supposed to test their knowledge of rescuing wild animals. Most of the name cards were really cool. I was a little bit surprised how popular Angry Birds are:).

Filling out questionnaires

Working on the name cards:)

Yellow group, led by Maggie

Blue group, led by Snail

Red group, led by Spider
Green group, led by Wei, who is not in the picture
After lunch we did "Ice-breaking" and played introductory games, both of those activities were designed to help us get to know each other, build team spirit and get children to be comfortable working together. Both of those activities were used in the first camp too. I actually broke our ice before the game even started (I didn't account for my hands melting a little bit of eyes and let it fall out) at first, but thankfully teachers had one cup as reserve.

Ice breaking game
Right about this time I began to notice that mosquitoes are going to be a big problem during this camp and started using obscene amounts of repellent. Then we played "The Pyramid", a game designed to show how fragile ecological system is and teach children about the food chain, all that while emphasising importance of teamwork. The game was very well designed.

We also walked the trail in the area and kids learned how to use binoculars. The game was called "Animals, where are you?". Two teachers went far away from children and were putting up signs with drawn animals. Kids were supposed to recognize as many animals as they could.

After dinner children listened to a lecture about birds, learning about their typical features (sounds, colors etc.). That was it for the first day. I personally can't wait for the rest of the camp!
See you guys soon,

Aug 9, 2012

Hosting Dongshih team

Dear guys,

Dongshih team visits Aowanda Recreation Area on 9th and 10th of August. We are supposed to show them around charming Aowanda.

In the first morning, it is the fourth time I walked to the waterfall that looks the most beautiful waterfall ever. I guess since the water is abundant after the last typhoon, the waterfall looks that much strong and lively. Lucky them!

In the afternoon, it is going to rain a little bit so we have two activity options: one is cleaning the pond and the other is playing orienteering game. Then, 15 people including Aowanda team, Dongshih team, baby sister and volunteer teachers together clean the pond. The way we do it is to remove water-fern that harms endemic plant of the pond in which the water is dirty but not quite smelly. We have been extremely productive since half of the pond are cleared out, leaving the yellow flowers to shine. The most exciting part of the job is the time when everybody has to move the huge water-fern onto the ground. It reminds me of the old time when people move large wood manually. How everyone together shouts “1,2,3 and move it” is so fun!  

In the evening, there is a pleasant surprise that Aowanda Nature Center celebrates its fourth birthday. The light is turned off, each and everyone of us holds a small candle and then sing “Happy Birthday” song in Bahasa by Chiayi, Russian by Olga, Vietnamese by myself, Chinese by Simon and then by everyone. We also make a video clip for wishing happy birthday.

We walk to the suspension bridge in the whole next morning. Thanks to Dongshih volunteer teacher, it is the first time I walked through the trails on the way to suspension bridge, including the cirle trail in pine tree zone. Moreover, it is such an unforgettable moment when we all together across the suspension bridge under such a perfect weather - not hot, not rainy, just breeze and warm. I wish I could stay there with them for a longer time in order to immerse ourselves in such a charming landscape and share our own stories to each other.

It is so sad that they have to leave right after lunch. Al I want to do is to give them the biggest thanks for their coming because they really light up my days here in Aowanda.

All the best to you guys,

Aug 4, 2012

Exhausting yet exciting trail restoring days

Hi guys,

On the 1st August typhoon Saola hit Taiwan, so we were evacuated from Aowanda. We went to Nantou and lived in B&B close to Nantou Forest District Office. We were given a free day on the 2nd August (because of the typhoon) and we helped in the office on the 3rd August. We spent next two days cleaning and fixing the trails in Changhua county, which is part of Nantou Forest District. On the 4th August we went to Erzhanping Trail (one of four Qingshuiyan trails) and spent the morning cleaning the damage done by the typhoon.
Ready to work! 
Working hard

In the afternoon we visited the Qingshuiyan Temple. It was really interesting. I actually commited a minor faux pas: I went there first and, not knowing the customs, walked out the same door that I entered. Wei told me later on that the right door is represented by the Dragon, which is a symbol of good in Chinese culture, so we are supposed to enter the temple via the right door. Left door is represented by tiger, symbol of danger and we are supposed to leave the temple through the left door. I noticed drawings of dragon and tiger hung close to their respective doors after Wei's explanation.

After that we had lunch and went to Kengneikeng Forest Trail, one of the Ershui Nature Trails. 
The slogan says: Don't feed the monkeys!

That was really awesome, I saw monkeys for the first time in my life (ZOO doesn't count). I spent a lot of time just watching them jump around, eat, play with each other.

On the way back we were picking up the trash. I briefly hated people, there was a lot of trash everywhere. I still can't believe how inconsiderate some people are. Unfortunately we only had one bag, that got filled up really quickly.

Disgusting and disapointing
That was it for the day.
The next day we went to Taoyuanli Forest Trail, and fixed the holes in the road. It was really a hard work.
It took us roughly 30 minutes to restore this damaged piece of trail
In the afternoon we visited Eight Trigram Mountains Buddha Landscape Association, really cool Buddhist complex with a temple in the center.

Cool Buddha in the background!
After that we went home and soon enough we got back to Aowanda.
See you guys soon,