Please welcome our second batch of high school Yaki Ambassadors!

Hello readers, it’s Caroline speaking! Today I’ll walk you through our most recent awesome outing: Yaki Youth Camp 2015!

Participants and committee of Yaki Youth Camp 2015!

Participants and committee of Yaki Youth Camp 2015!

 

It was already over a year since the last Yaki Youth Camp (YYC) was held. I could remember the enthusiasm and energy of the participants very clearly, but I had forgotten the shyness they showed when they first arrived. It was to be expected – 18 students, all representing different high schools, are meeting each other for the first time in this event. How did we select these students to represent their school? We visited each and every one of their schools and gave a talk to students and teachers about how important it is to save the yaki and protect our environment. Students who paid attention would be able to answer the quiz given at the end of the talk, and whoever managed to answer correctly won a Golden Ticket to YYC 2015! This year, we visited 34 high schools in Bitung and Airmadidi and reached over 2500 students. In the end, 18 representatives confirmed their invitation to attend YYC 2015 and travelled with us all the way from Bitung and Airmadidi to Pa’Dior museum complex, owned by North Sulawesi Institute of Art and Culture in Tompaso, Minahasa. I would imagine it was a mostly silent bus ride for the participants who barely knew each other. Well, that awkward silence won’t last long!

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To break the ice that night, we played some name games so everyone would know everyone else’s names. Aside from the 18 participants and 8 members of the Selamatkan Yaki team, we had 5 very special guests: Angel, Chia, Uje, Edo and Ira, 5 of our high school Yaki Ambassadors from YYC 2014! Due to their impressive enthusiasm in spreading the word about yaki conservation, both through school talks with us and independent talks they organized themselves, we invited them to join in Yaki Youth Camp again, this time as mentors to inspire and help out the participants from Bitung and Airmadidi. You can imagine there were quite a lot of names to memorize! Many people got a little tongue-twisted and lots of laughter ensued – which was the whole point of the games! Things loosened up a bit more after practicing and performing the YYC Jingle, and by the time we were done, everyone was ready to receive some context for our weekend’s activities through a Movie Night. During the Movie Night, participants got a glimpse of the environmental issues humans are dealing with globally, before watching the BBC short movie featuring the yaki and the threats they face. It was both educational and entertaining, and participants gained more understanding about the species we are working so hard to save, preparing them for the activities of the following day.

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Everyone was up bright and early the next day for a spot of morning exercise, led by Reyni. The workout effectively wiped out remaining drowsiness and prepared everyone for the busy day ahead. The morning started off with a session on 10 things you could do for yaki conservation, presented by myself and assisted by Angel, Chia and Uje. During this talk, they assisted me in explaining some of the general ideas the participants could build on, and also described their own experiences in putting those ideas to practice. It was quite an inspiring segment! Following the talk, everyone participated in a speed-storming session to dig up more practical ideas that can be applied by high school students yet effectively reach the community. Then the newly divided rambos (the name for a group of yaki, or in this case, the name for participant groups) then presented their own version of 10 things they could do to help yaki conservation. Rambo 4 won this round with their easy-to-apply ideas!

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For our next session, we welcomed Ronny Buol, a prominent figure in photography in North Sulawesi. By day he works as a reporter for Kompas.com, but he is also the chairman of F/21, an organization that aims to promote the natural and cultural wonders of North Sulawesi through photography. He gave some very good examples of how important photography is for conservation, some rooting from his own journalistic experiences, and gave some very good tips for taking meaningful photos regardless of the type of camera used. Ronny also stressed the importance of captions to provide the information that can’t be conveyed through the photograph itself. The talk was put directly to practice as the rambos walked around Pa’Dior, searching for objects to photograph and coming up with a suitable caption that can motivate viewers to protect the environment. It was hard to choose between flowers and crocodiles and ants and rubbish, but eventually, the jury picked the photograph by Rambo 1 as the winner for this round!

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Lunch came and went, and after everyone had their fill, we settled down to the third session, presented by our partner, Macaca Nigra Project (MNP)! Yandhi from MNP arrived earlier that day with Deity, Nona and Dilla from Tangkoko Conservation Education (TCE) to give us a hand in supervising and motivating these high school students. Yandhi’s talk about the link between the yaki, the environment, and humans gave more in-depth context for our efforts in protecting our funky guardians of the forest. To help the public relate to this fellow primate, Jurriaan also gave a talk in this session about presenting the yaki through illustrations. Being the creator of our yaki online game and comic strip contributor for all two Yaki Magz editions, there was no better person to deliver this talk! After the two talks, participants were again challenged to put the newfound ideas to practice by creating a simple story board about the yaki’s life. We weren’t looking for works of Michelangelo; rather, we wanted the Rambos to be as creative as possible in coming up with a story about the yaki that the public could relate to, accompanied by simple pictures to help describe the story. It was a tough call, but in the end Rambos 1 and 3 were ruled as the winners of this competition!

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Late afternoon was the perfect time for Yaki & Dance! Reyni opened the session by leading everyone in a warm-up demonstration, before introducing how dance can also be used to help yaki conservation. Following the introduction, our programme manager himself hit the floor with his breakdancing skills! A hilarious dance battle ensued, and by the time it was over everyone had loosened up enough to come up with their own concepts for dance performances to promote yaki conservation. Dance routines were not the only thing the Rambos had to work on. Their concept also had to include the setting of their performance (location, time, etc.) and the messages that they were going deliver to accompany the dance routine. The variety was surprising! Between flash mobs and Kabasaran (a traditional war dance) -like concepts and music ranging from Waka Waka to the soundtrack of Masha and the Bear, Rambo 1 and 4 were tied for first place in this competition!

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After dinner we started our final session of the day: music and how it could help yaki conservation. We had some very special guests to speak for this session! Opal and Ade of Bloodlines had come all the way from Manado to contribute their expertise in the local music industry. Not only that, Ira, our Langowan Yaki Ambassador, also joined camp by special invitation, thanks to the yaki song she created! Prisi introduced the importance of music and the role of Yaki Ambassadors in music before handing the stage to Bloodlines. Bloodlines was founded fifteen years ago and is now a household name for metal music in North Sulawesi with a large fan base. Through their short speeches during performances, they reach out to their fan base and spread the word about conservation. Ira, however, has a different story. After Yunita’s talk at her school last year, she immediately got to work and wrote a moving song about protecting the yaki. Ira gave a talk on how high school students can use their own music to help conservation efforts and gave some very good tips on writing, recording, and sharing their own songs! With this knowledge fresh in their minds, the Rambos split up for one last competition: making their own yaki-themed jingle. The Rambos came up with some hilarious medleys, but finally, Rambo 4 was crowned the champion for the final competition of the day!

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After a good night’s rest, everyone got up early again for morning exercises. The exercise routine was livelier this morning thanks to the dance competition the previous day! After breakfast and showers, the Christian participants attended a short Sunday morning service. Then, it was time for participants to practice their own talks. To warm up the students, I gave an introduction on the purpose of public speaking in awareness raising with the help of Edo and Ira. Edo and Ira gave tips on how to deal with a younger audience, which would come in handy when these participants go to junior high schools and elementary schools, and also shared some of their experiences during talks. Now, participants were split into new groups based on their school’s location to practice these talks. It was wonderful seeing all the groups put everything they had learned over the weekend into practice!

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In what felt like no time at all, we came to the close of Yaki Youth Camp 2015. Though the scores were very close, Rambo 1 took home the crown as the winning group for this year’s Yaki Youth Camp! The atmosphere couldn’t have been more different than when the participants first arrived, merely 42 hours ago. Those who used to be shy and reserved were now very enthusiastic, and any doubts or questions  about Yaki Youth Camp activities are now gone, replaced by all the fun memories and fresh knowledge about the yaki! We would like to thank our contributors: Ronny, Yandhi, Deity, Nona, Dila, Jurriaan, Opal, and Ade; our guest Yaki Ambassadors: Angel, Chia, Uje, Edo and Ira; our partner, North Sulawesi Institute of Art and Culture; and of course, all 18 participants of Yaki Youth Camp 2015! Together we will save the yaki!

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2 thoughts on “Please welcome our second batch of high school Yaki Ambassadors!

  1. I have read this story wich so much pleasure and admiration for the organizers and the students. Really heartwarming.

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