Just one more day left until we’re done with our ZEP. It has been a pretty challenging experience, which I have happily accepted. I have learnt so much during my time here, whether it was working with dive shop owners and managers to help lower their environmental impact score or simply learning how to haggle the price down with the same tricycle driver every time, who definitely knows that I am not a tourist and have been living here for almost 2 months…but I have also learnt that you should choose your battles. A battle for a more environmentally friendly dive industry is probably the better choice.
During the 6 weeks we have been here, we managed to organize a beach and underwater cleanup event with most of the dive shops, introduced a ‘say-no-to-plastic’ campaign (Sharon organized both of these), worked with the keen teachers of Moalboal in implementing marine conservation in their teaching materials (Fiona and Anita), managed to help lead a dive guide accreditation workshop with the local government (our whole group worked on this), gave interviews about our ZEP experience (Duncan organized and filmed these), managed to get more than 150 quadrat samples for the reef health analysis (I lead this but it was really the whole team who helped me complete this, thank you guys!!), successfully assessed 14 dive shops and handed out goodies and certificates to these dive shops as the icing on the cake! The list of activities goes on, but I will keep this blog short and sweet.
It has been an exciting experience and I will definitely take the skills I have learnt with me and apply them to my personal and professional life. And these were hard-earned skills! I have learnt these skills by throwing myself out of my comfort zone (almost every time during my ZEP), which has made me a better person than I was 2 months ago. On top of that, I managed to meet some of the most wonderful people, the inspiring and passionate dive owners/managers who care so much about their environment and my fellow ZEPs, who I will definitely take the time to fly over and visit (I really wasn’t kidding about showing up on your doorstep!). All in all it is an experience that I will cherish and won’t forget! Will miss you all tons, peace out!