My Bush Sabbatical, from Lawyer to Guardian of Nature: Priyanka Mehta
As a highly qualified Lawyer in India and New York, Priyanka just wasn't satisfied with her life. Her desire for fresh air led her to take a sabbatical, away from the everyday hustle and bustle of the city and enroll in a Field Guiding Course with EcoTraining.
I am a lawyer by profession, qualified to practice law in India and New York, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, LLB in Law and a Masters in Law from Columbia Law School in New York. There was no doubt in my mind that corporate law was what I wanted to pursue. Having practiced in a leading law firm in India for 7 years and specialised as a Capital Markets Lawyer, I was beginning to burn out. There was a sudden and urgent desire to breathe fresh air, see the sunlight and connect with nature. I was beginning to feel claustrophobic in the corporate environment, within enclosures of perfectly white washed walls and air conditioning.
I decided to take a sabbatical during which I applied for the New York Bar examination which I passed. There after I have been pursuing opportunities to connect with nature and travelled extensively to the Himalayas and various wildlife and nature parks in India last year 2016. When I saw my first sighting of a tiger and leopard my desire to seek out more sighting grew. The more I sought out these mammals the more I became aware of other creatures around me like birds, insects, reptiles, small mammals and much more. I realised how inadequate my knowledge about the environment I lived in was and felt ignorant.
I wanted to spend some quality time learning and understanding more about nature and its biodiversity and this is when I came across EcoTraining. A friend who was passionately involved in wildlife would continuously share his experiences and stories of the bush, while I would listen in awe and admiration, yearning for an opportunity to experience his life.
I was appealed by EcoTraining’s 55-day FGASA Field Guide level 1 / NQF2 Course because of it’s wide range of subjects covered in the syllabus, which would give me the opportunity to understand and feel all aspects of the environment. Furthermore, the opportunity to live for 55-days in the African bush, without electricity or connectivity, was extremely attractive – this was exactly what I was looking for! Being able to connect with nature alongside other people who also value the environment and want to learn about nature made for the perfect setting without any restrictions.
I am still currently on the course and will this experience change the course of my life’s direction going forward? I don’t know yet, but while I am here I would like to spend as much time learning, so that whatever course my life takes, I want to be able to make a contribution to our environment.