We wanted to get to know Iris better, so we asked her a few questions…
What made you want to volunteer at JGIS?
I wanted to know what it was like to work at an NGO and was always interested in primates, so I wrote to JGIS to ask about an internship opportunity back in 2014. Two years on, I’m still with JGIS, working on its community and more projects!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’ve always been drawn to NGO work, conservation work and ethology work, and I’m still figuring out how best to impact the world in a positive manner. I’m an avid diver and trekker and I love exploring the local way of life whenever I travel. I love discussions; some of my favourite topics are the animal-human “divide”, animal behaviour/cognition, sustainability, societal structures, conservation, etc. In my spare time, I frequently find myself doodling and gaming.
What was the most interesting thing you’ve worked on as a JGIS volunteer?
I’ve volunteered with JGIS for over 2 years as the Community Manager and in the planning team, so there’s been tonnes of interesting experiences! I think planning Dr. Jane’s 2015 visit and gala dinner, starting the volunteer database, the Raffles’ Banded Langur citizen science project, and working with SCS to organise the Scientist exhibition in June 2016 were impactful. The fundraising campaign on Indiegogo was also an eye-opener as it was my first time crowdfunding.
How has your volunteering experience impacted you?
It has shed light on how NGOs are run. The experience of going through projects/ events from ideation to execution have empowered me with confidence to start projects independently. I have also gained lots of like-minded friends among the volunteers.
What are some tips you have for new volunteers?
Rather than entering an NGO project just asking what you should do, begin by reading up about the NGO and knowing what you want to do because that’s when you really focus on nurturing your own talents and desired skill sets. At JGIS, this is particularly true given its ground-up philosophy, which I believe is one of JGI’s core strengths. Be initiative and brave with voicing your ideas and thoughts, don’t be afraid of criticisms because your opinion deserves to be heard! Having goals also keeps you motivated to see your projects to completion. Last but not least, get to know everyone on the team, including the board! In every NGO I’ve worked with (Toddycats, Love MacRitchie Walk, Sisters’ Island Guides, etc), the volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and everyone has tonnes of interesting skills, insights and experiences that you can learn from.