Volunteering in South America

Following email discourse with a university professor, I realised that becoming a primatologist is going to be quite difficult. Of course, I always knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, and that I had would have to get a variety of different qualifications and work really hard for a large portion of my life, but I never knew quite the extent to which my financial status was going to impede my progress. Despite the email being friendly, informative, and encouraging, I was left disheartened. Aside from my brief time in Uganda, I have no experience in a tropical field setting, and aside from the basic research project I conducted whilst I was there, I have no experience in conducting behavioural research on primates. I know the theory – I’ve read a massive number of journals detailing how researchers go about their investigations, but I have never been a part of conducting meaningful behavioural research on primates.

I decided that I would scour the web looking for opportunities that appealed to me, and soon realised that being from a working class background is going to be the biggest challenge that I will have to overcome if I intend to pursue a career in research. Despite never being well off, despite never going on family holidays or getting expensive gifts for big occasions, I had never once felt as though I was limited by my lack of money. I have always believed that, despite certain hardships that I will not discuss here, I have lived a relatively comfortable life – my mum was not starving herself to feed us, and I always had hot water for showering and clean clothes to put on in the morning.

Nevertheless, after sitting at my desk for hours and staring at my laptop, it dawned on me that I could not afford to volunteer as a research assistant in a tropical country. It hit me that getting a PhD might not be possible for someone with as limited resources as I. So, I did what all working class people do and resigned myself to having to save up what little money I earn from my part-time job, worrying that I might have to ask a relative for a loan to cover the costs of flights. Then I remembered that I had seen so many people fundraising for such opportunities, and that there are people out there kind enough to give to those who would never be able to afford such ventures otherwise. So, with that very hope in mind, I would like to direct you to my gofundme campaign here. Please share, comment, and donate if you can, any help at all would be much appreciated.

Thank you for whatever support you can give.

Zoe xx