Thursday, 8 November 2012

Reflection by Jinjing

Why did I choose Environmental Exposure?

Both options for the EXCEL program, the community exposure module and the environmental exposure module, were attractive to me. Initially, I intended to join the community exposure as it would allow me to observe the Meet the People’s Sessions. I have never had the chance to get close to talk sessions between Singapore leaders and normal residents. The first-hand experience was quite appealing to me. However, eventually I chose Environmental exposure because the attractive nature of environment itself. All the cute and lovely photos of marine lives had totally convinced me to join the environmental exposure when Mr Loh passed the guidebook to me. Thus, I signed up for it without any hesitation! (haha)

Thoughts of Indoor talk

Initially, I was quite unwilling to go for the indoor talk. From my experience,  talks are boring and meaningless. But from the start of this talk, I was proven to be wrong. I still remembered the first thing we were told to do when we entered student lounge was to find out ‘stonefish’ from the booklet given. Due to curiosity, everyone was anxiously looking for it. The finding process made us even more interested to go for our actual field trip. During the talk given by Ria, she shared with us how she engaged people by teaching us to post some possible question. For example, how many claws do tree-climbing crabs have? How can mudskippers move around out of water? She explained the rationale was to make people to think and find out answers themselves rather than telling all the answers. Through this way, people would be more interested in the field trip!

First Field Trip

My first field trip with the Naked Hermit Crabs was Pasir Ris mangrove boardwalk, 1st September. It was indeed a memorable experience though it was a bit rainy in the late afternoon. Maybe due to the weather, there weren’t a lot of people came for the walk. I was following Ivan with around 6 people which exactly two families. Ivan is very knowledgeable. He talked about the history of different plants and explained different behaviors of crabs during high tide and low tide. It was extremely interesting and amazing for me to learn all these knowledge. It really made me inspired to do things consistently! I really admire people like Mr Loh and Ivan, who has so much passion for something and they are willing to dedicate their time and effort just for their interest!

Although Ivan did most of the talking, I actually talked to the people in our groups! By the between, I also helped to find out quite a number of crabs and mudskippers! I felt great when I showed them the crabs and mudskippers I found! Guess what? I found two squirrels as well!!! I felt so proud whenever the young boy asked me where the crabs were! Haha.

The CRAB photo taken by ME!

At the start, I wasn’t daring to talk to the people. But after a while, things went to the right direction and I really learnt a lot from the trip, especially that to be brave to talk to strangers!

OJT to Chek Jawa :)

The on-the-job training to Chek Jawa was in the midst of preparation of our promotional examination. To be honest, the trip was more memorable and meaningful compared to the previous field trip!

Group photo taken by Mr Loh before the walk

Okay, let’s back from the lunch! That day was high tide and rainy, again. I was quite worried before the talk because I will be doing guiding! FOR REAL! Besides having limited knowledge of stations, I afraid I can’t engage people well. However, luckily I got Mr Loh as the main guide and I felt much safer! Haha. Although that was not my first time been to Ubin, I was still very excited about the natural beauty there, especially the sea views. During the guiding, I was quite surprised to see how much our dear Mr Loh knows! He talked about durian trees and fruit bats, about monitor lizards and cotton-stainer bugs. I picked up almost twice the amount of knowledge than I had on the first trip!

Moreover, I thought we were more lucky that the previous one because we had chance to see much more creatures. For example, we saw a great billed heron which was apparently a mature one. We also saw a wild boar which was seldom seen. We saw big and yellow color bees around their nest also though I can’t really remember its name.

A very pretty spider!! Photo taken by Songshan

The wild boar! Photo taken by ME!!!!

My favorite personal experience on the trip was climbing the tower. Mr Loh set a target of 30 seconds for me to climb the tower. However, I failed the mission with a result of 43 seconds.  When we were at the top, we actually saw two eagles a distance away. It was cool to have a great sight at the top. The tower seemed a bit dangerous. Apart from the height, it was shaking all the time. I was scared but I told myself that I should be confident and brave! So I tried to calm down and after a while, I beat the fear. So as to be a leader, when any emergency happens, you have to calm yourself down first and be confident to handle the situation!

For my guiding stations, I tried to speak normally and made the atmosphere gentle. As such, I will feel easier to share my ideas with the people. Thus, I posted questions like, ’Do you think the mudskippers are frogs, fishes or snakes’. With the help from active people in my group, I could naturally continue my sharing, not only get my job done, but also successfully engage them. Similarly, a leader has to attract people’s attention before you say anything important. To be a leader, does not mean you have to put yourself high. In fact, you have to put yourself low for easier engaging people and achieve your goal. When running an event, the most important thing is to get people involved because they are the ones who make the event successfully in the end. Thus, effective communication is the key to achieve the goal besides good planning and execution.

Thank you Naked Hermit Crabs for the opportunity. Thank you Mr Loh for all the guidance! By the way, Mr Loh is an amazing photographer (maybe because of his ‘investment’ of the DSLR).

Reflection by Lee Raphael

Being stuck between the two very attractive EXCEL programs, mainly community and environment, it was ultimately not my choice of the EXCEL program. I DIDN’T CHOOSE THE ENVIRONMENTAL LIFE, THE ENVIRONMENTAL LIFE CHOSE ME (this is meme material). Either way, I was never a people person and would have thought Environmental EXCEL would be the perfect program for me. BUT I WAS WRONG, we have to guide people for the board walk. All in all, I’ve learnt a lot through this program.

Indoor Training

The whole nightmare started with an Indoor training conducted by Miss Ria Tan. The training was Crazy, She was Crazy, just not in the bad way. She was the most enthusiastic person I’ve seen, even until today! The presentation though covered seemingly boring stuffs such as what to expect during the trip and some tips to guide, did not cause anyone to fall asleep. Her passion kept us alive, her passion kept the presentation alive. Since joining the Naked Hermit Crab is highly voluntary and non-profit, it shows how much she LOVES what she is doing. From her, I figured out the importance to love what we are doing by loving the REASON why we are here in the first place. This is similar to being a Student Councilor, not that we should love to lead others, but love that we are here in the first place. As such, we will then enjoy all the hard work we are putting into on the execution of the different events.

On-The-Job Training

The second phase of the program is an Observation walk whereby the students involved are paired with a guide (‘crabs’ as they would call themselves) and OBSERVE. This day, we reported at Pasir Ris Mangrove Boardwalk (I bet you don’t know where this place is). I was paired with Mr. Loh and grouped with (if I remembered correctly) a family of at least 4 and a couple. It didn’t start off interesting, I mean, what can be interesting with Mr. Loh around. However, it was funny to see Mr. Loh try to engage the kids with the standard “see who can find the most Mudskippers”. Even so, he was very able to engage the kids and the kids only. I was not engaged at all. This showed me the importance of suiting your guiding style to that of your audience. That being said don’t expect mudskippers to be like

“I’m just sittin’ around, chillin’ out”


“finding mudskippers? let’s play some hide-and-skip”

Interesting Finds Of The Day:


I was paired with Ria on that day grouped with some families. Through the guide, I picked up some memorable quotes from Ria. “This may look like a black widow spider, but on closer look, this is actually a…” reminds me on how we should always encourage others on to contribute ideas and thoughts. This brings us to the principle that ‘there is no such thing as bad ideas, just better ideas’. Her encouragement is crucial in ensuring the participation of the kids within the group. Next up, “I only know of 3 types of fish, the ikan bilis, the nasi lemak fish and the…”


This quote shows me that to be a good guide, I don’t have to be all that well-read. She also attempted to teach Songshan and I how to guide with the minimum of information. As “for a kid, anything that flies, anything with 6 legs and anything with 8 legs, you would just have to know that it’s a bird, insect of spider. They would be interested anyway.” As such this enhances my understanding of the second lesson learnt whereby we should suit our styles to different audiences. This also showed me the importance of effective communication as it is visible from Ria that ‘minimum knowledge, when conveyed effectively is more informative than more knowledge convey wrongly.” Thus through this, with the interaction with the different families, I improved on my inter-personal skills and have greatly understood the importance of these skills. 

Interesting Find Of The Day:

Thus i hope to thank the Naked Hermit Crab for this opportunity for me to improve on my leadership skills and become a better person. THANK YOU HERMIT CRABS. (naked or not.)