When I was in Paris, finally boarding the plane, I suddenly realised, “that’s it, I am really leaving for two months and stepping out of my comfort zone”. Don’t get me wrong, I have travelled quite extensively on my own, but I was nervous! Volunteering is nothing new to me either, but this time the programme was a lot more complex and rich, making me curious and impressed.
During the stop in Abu Dhabi, I got hours to look up all I could find about the Philippines, the more I read, the more I felt lucky going there! Moreover, involving myself in marine conservation in the best country for diving according to some, my biologist background making me feel thrilled about the opportunities and great experiences ahead, finally some “real life” work where I can feel useful!
The first two weeks of training flew by, everyday is different and always instructive, even emotional! I could not help but feel overwhelmed by all the destruction and death that the human touch spreads throughout the oceans, and then being in awe, realising the efforts and measures taken throughout the world. Although the oceans and the living beings they house are facing so many threats: climate change, overfishing… The opportunities to get involved and make a difference are numerous, allowing everyone and anyone to become conscious of the great treasures just under the surface and protect them as well as marvel at their beauty.
Getting involved with marine conservation has several meanings and challenges, it is such a wide playground, especially with Zoox, to go beyond what you know and explore your own potential. It’s also the opportunity to learn from others in a great environment, the common mindset allowing very different individuals to work together.
My biggest challenge was learning how to give long presentations, I felt awkward and definitely not ready. Not familiar with the type of interaction to have with an audience, how to deliver a message adequately or be able to get a hold of their attention. But having no exit door, all I could do was jump in and try to not drown at the bottom of the pool, hoping for my failure not to be too bitter…
And somehow, although I was expecting to sink down, the right words came to my mind and I navigated through, marine conservation and general knowledge of the underwater life becoming easier and easier to share with the audience consisting of very considerate and supportive friends. The presentation flowing naturally and information going both ways.
I was surprised to realise that the deep end of the pool was easy to swim in! Such a rewarding experience although scary at first. And now I cannot wait for the next opportunity to do it all over again. And I am quite certain opportunities will not be lacking!