And I’ve arrived. Today is my second full day in Palau and I’m ready to start working on all the projects I’ve been assigned to. Upon arriving at the Koror Airport I was welcomed by three of my co-workers, Wayne, Gloria, Rosania, and Felicia, a younger member of the community and relative of some of the workers at the office. Not only was I welcomed with warm arms, we also went to celebrate my arrival at “The Drop-Off” Restaurant—a local favorite spot to enjoy a rich dinner under the stars.

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Thursday was a busy day. Besides getting a tour of the different parts of Koror and learning about the different tourist attractions, historical landmarks, locations of the Palau National Team training facilities, and visiting two museums, I also took part in an informative working lunch which gave me insights to my co-workers’ roles and projects. At the same time, each person informed me of how they would like to utilize my time and expertise during my 3 month stay.

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My main projects as of right now will be:

  • data analysis of the Helen Reef records from 2000-present
  • produce a report that documents the history and stories of Helen Reef and the community ‘s involvement in the conservation efforts (including plenty of visuals and stories from the locals and marine life)
  • conduct a non-random, 100% participation socio-economic survey
  • visual documentation of coral reef conditions and community interactions

…and of course I will also be blogging about all my experiences and memories.

In the early evening I attended the Helen Reef Resource Management Program’s monthly board meeting. Each member of the organization presented their last month’s accomplishments. While showing what each person has done for the month, these presentations are also used to practice oral presentation skills and to critique each other’s progress. From what I have heard, other organizations are quite impressed by how well the Helen Reef Program members are able to convey their work in front of a larger audience—and today’s meeting showed that my co-workers put a lot of time into creating and perfecting their public speaking skills.

After the 2.5 hour long board meeting I headed to Wayne Andrew’s village to finish off the evening with a community dinner. The food was spectacular and I am so happy to have been welcomed into the community members’ lives!

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