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At the start of April, twelve lucky teachers got the opportunity to visit Borneo for a jam-packed seven-day Familiarisation Trip, giving them an insight into what their students will experience on a full expedition.

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Over the course of the seven days, our group of teachers were kept extremely busy with trips to visit current project sites, overnight stays in our camps and day trips to the Sepilok Orangutan and Bornean Sun Bears Conservation Centres.

Two of our travelling teachers from Victoria were so impressed by the trip they wanted to share their experience. So, enjoy the read of what they had to say about their Familiarisation Trip to Borneo.

“Borneo! Fair to say that we entered this journey a bit uncertain of what we would experience as we boarded the flight feeling somewhat nervous and excited for what the jungles of Borneo may bring. Little did we realise at the time how much intercultural understanding and appreciation of nature we would gain from the seven days experience that Camps International offered as part of the Borneo Teacher Familiarisation trip.

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The leaders that led our group – Fabian and Mel were passionate, engaging and caring who made you feel immediately comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. It became evident very quickly how much they were committed to the local community projects and ensured that the process was mutually beneficial to the volunteers and the local village people. Being able to see first-hand community projects such as the water project, the primary school and kindergarten made us realise how authentic these projects are that involves students contributing to its build. Experiences such as these not only connect students to the global community in a meaningful manner it also makes students appreciate the small things we often take for granted in Australia.

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As the trip progressed a highlight of the trip was the overnight jungle stay in which we slept in hammocks. We were able to see the rainforest and its true beauty from the river cruise, allowing us to see local primates such as the Proboscis monkey in its native setting. As part of the rainforest visit, we got to meet a truly passionate conservationist named Martin. His enthusiasm for protecting the rainforest, the water systems and the animals within it was moving. The efforts that he has established in conservation work and projects involving students provides a positive step towards protecting our environment. Personally, our genuine interest in animals and the environment made it very easy for this to resonate personally and we believe that students will feel equally as connected. It was truly inspirational to see an Australian leading the way for conservation work in the tropics of Borneo, Malaysia.

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Finally, other experiences such as snorkelling off the beautiful island of Gaya and the visit to the Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuary heightened the awareness of the importance to protect our wildlife and nature. This trip was truly memorable for all the right reasons and the kindness and gentleness of the local people only elevated the experience”