Kuching, East Malaysia: the city of cats and the land of saving strays – Hannah Wilson

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To say that I wished to endeavor somewhere “off the beaten track” this summer was an understatement.I wanted to quench my undying urge to venture to foreign lands, whilst participating in something I am passionate about, whilst trying to maintain an element of work experience for future career opportunities; this seemed impossible to amalgamate in one go abroad experience. However, fast forward two months, I know this to be untrue.
Throughout university, it is perceptive that to be the successful graduate, to be the rounded, cultivated alumni you MUST undergo a grueling corporate internship in the summers between study years .Certainly, my above comment is intended flippantly but, nevertheless, not completely untrue. I heard AIESEC organisation offered a useful platform to match student candidates with organisations internationally. I aimlessly searched the myriad of opportunities available and stumbled across one that sent me barking mad with excitement. Malaysia, marketing and DOGS. Without hesitation I contacted the directors of the project, we skyped and before I knew it my flights were booked and I was setting off for two months.

Kuching, East Malaysia, more commonly known as the “city of cats” was to be my home for the summer. Despite what it says on the tin, there was a much larger problem in relation to the animals of the city. The city of strays would be more fitting. Where scenic landscapes and bustling culture was in abundance as was the scenes of malnourished, disheveled pups and street dogs which plagued the city in search of a home. My purpose in combating this problem was volunteering with the SSPCA Kuching, an organisation committed to caring for, as well as, educating the community on animal cruelty and how, with small measures, everyone can make a difference to the animals and the stray epidemic within the city.

I assisted with online marketing activities to spread awareness, participating and organising events, fundraising brainstorming and being the crazy dog lady that I am; cuddling and playing with the 300+ strays who took refuge in the overpopulated shelter.
Pre-departure I had no preconceived idea of what was ahead. This is advice I would give to anyone ensuing an abroad experience: be open-minded, be prepared and always remember how fortunate you are. Naturally, there were incumbent concerns about losing credit cards and passports but as I was greeted at the airport with open arms I knew that the pending experience was going to be a good one.

Weeks of laughter, travelling Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, friendship and enriching experience in an organization I will always hold close to my heart; it made me realise something. Experiences present themselves everywhere, and in my case a city I hadn’t a clue was on the map. Slave-like hours behind a desk, unpaid, all for the “internship” badge on your CV does not need to be necessary. Go explore, do something different and the stories that follow will shape you to be a raconteur for a lifetime! For anyone interested visit SSPCA Kuching on Facebook and a massive thank you to the principal’s go abroad fund for helping me throughout the summer!





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