Leonie Schulz

LeoAn internship for five months, that’s quite a long while… Back at my university in the Netherlands, where I study International Development Management in my third year, I was looking for an internship in a Southeast Asian country. Four years ago, I was travelling through Malaysia for a period of two months and I still remember how much I was impressed by this country when I came here for the first time.

Therefore, when I found EcoKnights during my internship research, I started imagining how living in Malaysia and working in a local environmental NGO would be. Walking to the office in the early morning while it’s nice and warm, where I’ll be greeted with a smile every day when entering the room and do some weekend trips with colleagues to the beach or elsewhere. 

Reality looked slightly different, walking to the office was replaced by riding a bike as the distance from the train station was too long to walk; nice and warm became a matter of opinion, as hot and sweaty was how I call it; a smile and “good morning” was more of a rarity because everyone was either too focused on their work, or too shy to greet openly; weekend trips did take place, but instead of going to the beach, we ended up at river clean ups which I personally turned into a swim/dive (I would recommend the sea next time though). 

I was part of the Pubic Outreach pillar, which has taught me more in-depth skills of project management and communication, organizing workshops, and proposal writing. Doing an internship with EcoKnights allows you to figure out your personal strengths and weaknesses when the team always encourages you to take self-initiative and to work independently. They empower you to make decisions on your own; making mistakes was not seen as a failure but as a growing and learning process too. You will get the opportunity of many practical experiences, so no worries, you definitely won’t spend time only in front of the computer all day long.

I’ve learnt a lot of hard skills for my future career in the environmental sector, but doing an internship with EcoKnights has taught me way more soft skills than I expected, which are my biggest achievements during my time here in Malaysia. I had the opportunity to experience the working environment in an NGO run by locals who work very hard to see the environmental movements in their home country.

Being far from home in a completely different culture can be hard and you need a good community around you to make you feel comfortable and safe. Going out for lunch every day, cooking together in the office, going out for drinks or bowling after work are the memories I will never forget. The “knights” have helped me to be able to call Malaysia my home. I wouldn’t see things as I’m seeing them right now if EcoKnights didn’t provide me with such kindness and comfort. 

A special thanks goes out to you Mok, my team leader during my internship. You have proven patience and trust in me which I bet wasn’t easy all the time. To me, there could not have been any other pillar which would have taught me as much as the Public Outreach. I admit it wasn’t always easy but you allowed me to grow and develop. I really appreciate it.

Fadly, without you, I would not have been able to experience all of this and I am glad that I apparently have convinced you to bring me into the Knights gang. Other than that, you helped me love Malaysia even more by introducing me to several Malaysian dishes which I will miss for sure.

Thanks to every Knight, I will definitely recommend it to everyone who is considering to do an internship here!

Lots of love, Leonie

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