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Student swaps music for South-east Asian jungle


A piano teacher and part-time student has swapped the sounds of music for those of orang-utans and pygmy elephants in South-East Asia.

Sean Kinsella, 20, of Llangollen, is following his passion for working with animals after securing a 28-day voluntary placement in Malaysia and Borneo.

Working through an environmental education charity called Ape Malaysia, Sean is spending two weeks in a Malaysian zoo, Zoo Negara, located in its capital Kuala Lumpur.

He then moves on to a 16-day experience on the Malaysian island of Borneo, where he will live with the Orang Sungai, an indigenous population who live along the Kinabatangan River.

Sean, who flew to South-East Asia on 4 February, organised the placement as part of his degree at Glyndŵr University.

He said: “Pygmy elephants and orang-utans are endangered species in Malaysia and I’ll be spending my time in the zoo and out in the wild working on projects to restore and conserve their natural habitats.

“The placement is obviously part of my course and will help with my studies, but I love travelling and I’ve never been to Asia before so it has added appeal. I’m also a Buddhist so it will be good to see how the religion is practised in Malaysia.”

Sean is in the first year of his degree, which he studies part-time primarily at Glyndŵr University’s Northop campus three days a week.

He has been teaching piano and cello for two years and now fits this around his studies.

“I still really want to be a music teacher but I’ve always loved animals so I joined the course for personal interest as well as a back-up plan.

“I lived in Portugal and Italy when I was younger but I still want to gain more life experience and learn about different cultures around the world, so the placement is Asia is perfect.”

Lucy Jones, work experience officer at Glyndŵr University’s careers centre, said: “This will be a fantastic experience for Sean, I’m sure.

"We are always stressing to current students and graduates the importance of having real-life work experience alongside their academic studies which they can speak about to potential employers.

“Sean has been really pro-active in organising such an interesting and unusual work placement related to his course and this will help his employment prospects tremendously, should he wish to pursue a career working with animals.”

Glyndŵr University’s careers centre offers career advice to current students, alumni and graduates living in North East Wales.

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