The Best Time of My Life

Joy de Vos
3 October 2017

Preamble from Mark Brown, NVT Program Director

Interning with NVT is NOT easy. We don’t do your typical ‘volunteer’ thing. We take on passionate young early career conservation minded people who want to see what working in this field is all about. It is tough – we expose you fully to what it entails working for a NPO. As an intern you get treated as one of the team – you work together, live in the same house together, and often spend spare time together. We embrace each individual, and work alongside them as mentors to ensure a fulfilling experience with both professional and personal growth opportunities. We love stories like Joy’s below – and are so proud of her for embracing the challenge, facing her fears, and coming out on top!


The best time of my life

To be honest: I would lie if I would tell you that being an intern at NVT was the best time of my life – at least, that is if you would describe ‘the best time of your life’ as a time full of fun and joy all the time. I can tell you that my five month internship at NVT definitely wasn’t all fun and joy all the time… For example: living and working together with pretty much the same people for five months was definitely a challenge at times. Also, large areas of personal space hardly exist when you live together at the intern house. Waking up and seeing the same faces every-day for five months and not living as freely as I did back home alone, was mentally one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.

But, before you think I had a miserable time for five months at NVT and had no fun what so ever: that’s not the case! I also made friendships at that house that I know will last a lifetime. We sometimes made s'mores around the fire and played games, or we went on hikes together. I went to Addo Elephant National Park for a few days and visited Stellenbosch and Cape Town!

Life in the valley was simple and slow paced, something that I every now and then struggled with during my time there and thought it was boring, but now that I’m back to my fast paced life in the city of Groningen: I actually miss the ‘boring’ valley and the calmer version of myself!

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During my internship at NVT I learned how to take birds out of the nets during bird ringing and helped out during Adopt-a-Beach lessons. I wrote newsletters, blogs, Facebook posts and articles. I did marine debris fieldwork and made a video about our marine debris project. But apart from the new work experiences, I think that I learned the most on a personal level. Through some tough and emotional experiences during my internship – combined with reading ‘the subtle art of not giving a f*ck’ by Mark Manson during my stay - I’ve learned a lot! For example, I learned that nobody else is ever responsible for my situation but myself. People may be to blame for my unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for my unhappiness but me. This is because I always get to choose how I see things, how I react to things, how I value things. And you know what? Being an intern at NVT, while one of the most challenging and – sometimes – difficult experiences I’ve ever had so far, was also one of the most important and influential experiences of my life. I credit it with inspiring a big amount of personal growth!

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Maybe your experience will be completely different than mine – which would makes sense because you and I are two completely different people and we look at life through two completely different sets of eyes. Just know that it’s ok if you face difficulties, because NVT is a safe place and because it’s really true: you do learn more from your struggles! If I didn’t go through the tough times, I wouldn’t had learned the things I’ve learned now and I wouldn’t came back home a different person. So, I guess I can say that I actually did have the best time of my life ;)

Thank you Mark, Brittany, Kellyn, Kirwan and Craig for everything: both the good and the ‘bad’ times! 

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