project review

Travelling with Frontier China – from a mother’s point of view …

Review submitted by Dorothy Howes
Review date 1 Sep 2016

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When asked by Neil to write this report, I wasn’t sure where to start – what appears below are some of the main areas which directly affected me from sending dive kit and sorting out money problems to really wanting this to be a happy and successful adventure for my daughter who had worked very hard to earn enough money to pay for the trip.

Advance preparations –

Carly first contacted Frontier about 18 months before she was due to travel when she went to one of the Open Evenings with her Dad who seemed reassured that it was a respectable organisation and that the volunteers’ welfare and safety would be of prime importance.

She later made contact by telephone with her wish list for multiple projects and the dates she anticipated travelling – very quickly her dreams became plans! She had booked to go on four projects all linked to animal conservation in China, Fiji, Namibia and South Africa.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS!!  As Carly was travelling solo for the first time and only 18 when she set off I was determined to help her make her adventure as problem-free as possible and despite asking a vast number of questions, which were patiently answered by Neil and his colleagues at Frontier, we discovered in retrospect that there were others we should have asked - particularly before booking flights. If your son/daughter is flying to a project starting on the same day as his/her arrival, check the flexibility of the meeting times – some are very flexible but as we discovered in South Africa, the meeting time at Johannesburg airport was 12.00 and Carly’s flight from Namibia was due to land at 16.00!! (This applies to end of project dates/times too.)

China Panda Breeding Centre –
Carly was very excited but also extremely apprehensive about this project – it was going to be a ‘baptism of fire’ with such a change of culture, language and food. Fortunately for me, computer access was available at the hostels and at the Panda Breeding Centre so along with texts, I received regular emails and we even had ‘conversations’ on MSN messenger. It was very reassuring to know that Sophia met Carly at Chengdu, as planned, and that she was ‘lovely’, helpful and spoke fluent English. Carly settled quickly into the routine at Panda Centre and was delighted to be assigned to a keeper who spoke English and was happy to include her in all the processes involved in caring for the pandas. Although she was the only Frontier volunteer, Carly met many like-minded people at the centre and thoroughly enjoyed socialising and going on sightseeing trips with them. 

Read more about the China Panda Breeding Centre