My Time at CDF
By Jake Vásconez Ponce
On February 28, I arrived on Baltra Island filled with expectations and (I admit it) nervousness, but I was in Galapagos and nothing could go wrong with being here. I didn’t know what to expect about the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) but I received an email from Kelsey Bradley, who would be my boss, introducing herself very kindly and informing me about different projects she had in mind for me to work on. At that moment she gave me the impression that the place where I will be working for two months waited for me welcomingly –my initial impression was right.
My job was to assist Kelsey, who is in charge of “Donor Relations and Memberships” in the CDF’s Fundraising and Grants department. This included learning about the projects of the CDF and their funding needs, writing letters for donors, analyzing membership programs, creating posts for social networks, and other activities when they were needed. It’s worth noting that I was in the best office, with a perfect sea view, the sound of waves, and two finches that always came by the office to stand on our desks and have a look around. Wonderful.
As the days passed by, I started to write more and more emails to scientist to get information about the different projects the CDF was working on to inform our donors and I was surprised by the kindness everyone showed in their replies in every email. Phrases like “Thank you so much”, “I would really appreciate…”, “Great job, and thanks for doing this” were always present. I totally felt that I was working in a great place with an amazing boss.
I am studying at ESPOL to become a manager of my own business and the Fundraising and Grants department of the CDF was perfect to acquire experience to reach my goal of becoming a leader. I learnt about negotiation, work environment, persuasion, personal relationships, analysis of similar foundations, and teamwork. All of this experience will be very helpful in my future career as a manager.
Being a volunteer in the CDF has been one of the best experiences I have ever had; it’s enough that it’s in Galapagos, but especially the work environment at the CDF is incredible and you will want to stay forever. I would like to thank CDF for the opportunity, the support, and the kindness they showed me.
Being far from your family does have its effects, but in Galapagos there is always something to do and someone to meet. Diving, swimming with turtles, traveling to the different islands and meet their species, walk down the pier in the night, watch volleyball games at the port are an example of the various activities that comes to mind. Can you imagine? Work in an awesome place and when your workday finish you are able to do so many activities you couldn’t do anywhere else in the world. Eight weeks went very quickly and I would like to stay sixteen more.
My advice for future volunteers is that you should be open to new experiences. Galapagos is an amazing place because of their species and landscapes but especially the people, the camaraderie is felt everywhere and it is my favorite part of Galapagos. So, don’t hesitate one second to come to the best place to work, with adventure included. As I said, here there is always something to do and someone to meet.