Fiammetta Carmellini: This is how I ended up with EcoTraining

It all started about two years ago when I first came to Africa to do some volunteer work. It was part of my gap year and at that stage, I had no idea what I was doing with my life and what I would do with my future. I knew that I wanted to study something that was related to animals and the environment, but the idea of joining a university didn’t really excite me.

My first stop was Botswana where I met a girl that has done the year course with EcoTraining, and she was the one that started talking to me about becoming a guide. I was very intrigued by the idea, but at the same time a little scared because I knew my family expected me to go to university. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I repressed the idea and let it go for a while.

Then, my trip took me to Namibia where I met Marlice van Vuuren, owner of N/a’an Ku Sê Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary. She soon became a role model to me and she showed me that you didn’t need to have a degree to do what you truly love in life. So, as soon as I got back to Italy, I started with research and after a long talk with my family, I applied to join the Professional Field Guide course with EcoTraining.  After a lot of ups and downs and almost giving up on the dream, I was finally in the bush, starting the year course to become a Field Guide. I finally found my passion, and what I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m not lost anymore and I finally know what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the amazing instructors that I’ve had along the way. They made this journey so much more enjoyable and interesting. Every day was an adventure and I will treasure every encounter and every lecture for the rest of my life.

I would lie if I say it wasn’t stressful as well; it’s all fun and games until your knowledge is put to test, but if I survived the first two months, anyone can. Also, I’m incredibly thankful for EcoTraining for making me a more confident person. Before joining the course I was too scared to talk in front of a group of people and look at me now…I teach strangers about animal behaviour and conservation issues with a confidence I never had before.

Last, but not least, I am thankful for the amazing friends I’ve made during this adventure; they became like a second family to me and I will always be grateful for their support and help.

And now I’m back where it all started: N/a’an Ku Sê, where I’m now working as a guide at the lodge. I owe this place and in particular Marlice Van Vuuren everything; if I hadn’t come here as a volunteer in the first place, I would not be here doing what I love and I would never have joined EcoTraining in the first place.

Thank you EcoTraining, for everything you’ve done for me; you’ve helped me find a way in life, you’ve made me a better and more confident person and I’ve found a new family that I’ll always be grateful for.

About the Author:
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Annemi Zaaiman

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