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December 2008

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Passion and Joy in the Woods - An Interview with Yu-jen Wang, Volunteer Shei-Pa National Park

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Atrophaneura horishana and sambucus formosana.

Guiding with Artistry
Ku-ling deems guidance an art. Many docents are knowledgeable about animals and plants, yet to fully deliver the knowledge to tourists in a simple way requires tips. “A lot of national park volunteers deliver only 60% of what they know, while I speak 60% more than what I know,” noted Ku-ling.
Ku-ling explained humbly that he can provide a simple and clear guidance because he does not know too much. Years of experience has equipped Ku-ling with solid skills, and has helped him build up his own ecology notes. “I could not understand how volunteers recognize all the different voices of birds. But now I am able to do that, too, only with some twists. For example, Yuhina Brunneiceps sings ‘tu~mijiou’ (meaning ‘vomiting rice wine’ in Chinese); then you hear ‘jijiou~jijijiou’ (‘help’), that’s a Parus Monticolus; If you hear ‘ni~hueicyu’ (‘go back’), it
comes from a Cettia fortipes. When you do it in an interesting way, it is easier to memorize these voices.”
Making tourists learn with fun is the feature of Ku-ling’s guidance. Intense biological knowledge becomes interesting out from his mouth. “You think plants have no intelligence and feelings? Wrong! They know how to cheat or fake illness. The flowers of both Chinese Hydrangea (Hydrangea chinensis Maxim) and Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) are not attractive, yet they have beautiful paleae and bracts to allure butterflies to take their nectar. It is just the same with human beings: one need to learn to make up and dress up if not good looking.”
There is another plant sambucus formosana, whose flowers are almost invisible, yet because of her ‘cyathium,’ it still

attracts many insects. “This teaches us that even without beauty, one can still be popular with good services,” explained Ku-ling impressively.
Actually a volunteer does not have to know everything; what matters most is to infuse the idea of environmental protection unobtrusively into the minds of tourists. When they feel interested in nature, they would want to protect it.
Life Enriches His Guidance
Being a celebrity could be a burden; Ku-ling is often recognized by tourists. “I would say, ‘many people say I look like some person; true, cause I wouldn’t look like a monkey. Some also say I am better-looking than in TV; to tell you the truth, I am also better-looking than in a refrigerator.’” Interestingly, there is an unwritten rule among the volunteers of SPNP: one would be fined NTD100 by calling Ku-ling Ku-ling. “In the national park, tourists cannot request for a specific volunteer unless it is with group reservation. I cherish each tour with different people. Volunteering is a new identity for me, and a job I love. I don’t take pictures or give autographs during the tour. But after the tour, it’s fine, since I love to interact with tourists.”
Previous host experience is helpful for Ku-ling’s volunteer work now. SPNP also enlists his help to do the training of aboriginal volunteers or other advanced trainings. “The feature of an aboriginal volunteer’s guidance is ‘natural,’ since he lives right there in nature. He can tell the tourists that Corchorus capsularis L. is what they use to weave things, and when seeing a split pine cone, he can tell what animal has done it. Encouraging them to ‘share their lives in nature’ is the start of the training.’
Ku-ling drew birds on his own to help memorization. Dense notes of guidance; this is only a tiny part of Ku-ling’s numerous private notes. Ku-ling is often recognized by tourists in SPNP.
  • upper: Atrophaneura horishana and sambucus formosana./ by Ku-ling
  • lower left: Ku-ling drew birds on his own to help memorization./ by Ku-ling
  • lower center: Dense notes of guidance; this is only a tiny part of Ku-ling’s numerous private notes./ by Ku-ling
  • lower right: Ku-ling is often recognized by tourists in SPNP./ by Yen-ling Chang
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