I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been, learn information about the Caribbean Barrier Reef and contribute to the eradication of invasive species with kindred spirits. I chose a challenging situation where I had to relearn how to dive, learn the name of fish and coral and learn how to use a Hawaiian sling.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I organized my travel and arrival at the designated meeting place. I also had to have a police report done. The rest was either taken care of or I had detailed pages of information to walk me through a successful volunteer experience.
List of suggested items to take was invaluable, even for a seasoned traveler. Suggested methods of transportation and cost were provided, information about where to stay, local foods, money, language and the challenges we would be volunteering to correct or improved were all spelled out. Several people contacted me through email, each within their area of responsibility, to ensure all my potential questions were answered.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
You are a small part of an enormous picture. Go forth on the volunteer experience of YOUR choice, with a willing, helpful, giving attitude and enjoy every step of the journey, without judgement of what the local culture eats or how they dress. Don’t go with expectations, let things unfold and stay present in the moment at hand. If you choose to be open minded and willing to learn, then your life and those of all you touch will be joyful.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Rise by 6:30 am, dress, coffee, instruction, 7 am dive, break down dive equipment. Eat breakfast.
Free time, instruction , set up dive equipment, 11:00 am dive, breakdown tanks to be refilled, evaluate Lionfishers, stomach contents, prepare fish fillets. Eat lunch, rest.
Instruction, set up dive equipment, 3:00 pm dive, break down, wash equipment, shower, free time, 6:00 pm dinner. Lecture for next day given. Free for evening.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I hadn’t gone diving in 6 years and my paperwork touted I was an advanced diver. I was really a novice. Equipment had changed, I literally did not know how to attach the tank and the bcd. I was helped, reinstructed and guided until I felt comfortable. I thank the staff and will always feel indebted to them for their kindness and patience.
Anything you'd like to tell to other potential volunteers?
Be a citizen of the world, be adventurous in your food choices, it may be your chance to taste something you love! It is wonderful to befriend everyone: the street vendor or the guide, the other volunteers or the kitchen staff, everyone will contribute to your knowledge. Make sure to harm nothing, honor everything as you create joy wherever you go and return home grateful to have been in the position to give.