Alumni Spotlight: Nicholas Collinson, Costa Rica

by on Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Check out Nicholas Collinson’s Costa Rican Adventure…

The Alumni Spotlight highlights the achievements and stories of ISV alumni and Student Representatives. This weekly feature showcases these participants and their life-changing experience from around the world. ISV knows that volunteers make a difference, and is pleased to recognize the achievements of these outstanding university students!

This week’s Alumni Spotlight is on:

Nicholas Collinson

Nicholas Collinson in Costa Rica.

La Trobe University, Bundoora
Costa Rica

What was your Volunteer Project?

I worked on the sea turtle research project at Ostional on the Nicoya Peninsula. We were tasked with patrolling the beach in shifts of five hours from 7pm to midnight or midnight to 5am looking for nesting females. During the project we observed several Olive Ridley sea turtles, one Black Sea Turtle and three Leatherback Sea Turtles (one of the most endangered species of turtle in the world). We also had six hour shifts at the hatchery where we had nests of Leatherback eggs. During our two weeks we had fourteen leatherbacks hatch. Natural Leatherback nests on that beach have a 0% hatching success rate, so our efforts at the hatchery were very rewarding. We also spent three afternoons cleaning the beach of plastic rubbish and managed to pick up over 200kg of rubbish within a 1km stretch. The volunteer project was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Some of us spent our last sunset at Ostional dancing around and being silly on the beach. We decided to spell out the words 'Costa Rica' with people, and then tried to make a human pyramid.

What was the most memorable moment of your ISV Program?
Of all the fantastic things we did on our trip, all of which are memories I will treasure for a lifetime, but the moment that really was the most amazing and memorable thing was holding a freshly hatched baby Black Sea Turtle in my hand. It was so tiny and so cute with its disproportionally large flippers flapping around like it was waving at me. I felt such a communion with nature looking into its little eyes, and knowing that if it was very, very lucky, it would one day be back here, over a metre long, dragging its way up the beach to lay eggs of its own. Other times that I think I remember most fondly are the simple times spent with my two new best friends whom I met on the trip, playing cards, joking around or just sitting in the hotel room talking about anything and everything.

What is your favorite souvenir from your trip?
I know my girlfriend’s is the toy three toed sloth I brought back for her, and I’m not much for buying souvenirs for myself, I get to go there, so that’s the big thing for me, but there are two things that I brought back which mean an awful lot to me. One is the hand-carved bone leatherback sea turtle pendant that I got in Ostional, I still wear it almost every day. The other is the woven frineship bracelet that one of my new friends that I met there got for me. The people you meet and the friends you make are the best things that you bring back from these trips.

I have always loved travelling, and always planned to do a lot, but ISV has made me want to do this even more, and has made me want to work as a project leader and educate other young people about nature and wildlife conservation. ~Nicholas

What did you learn from your ISV Program?
I learnt that I am more independent than I thought before, I learnt that there are far more people in the world who care about conservation and helping the less fortunate than I thought, I learnt never to touch Guaro shots again and I learnt that there is so much hope for the world if people keep doing things like ISV and volunteering to make a difference.

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