Freedom Under the Sea

Before sending us to pre-service training in-country, Peace Corps preps its volunteers with a pre-departure training. During training session, one learns many tools to breed cultural sensitivity including the infamous DIVE model (which is an acronym for something I forgot) which encompasses the idea of looking beyond the surface of an issue. You gotta dive deep to see the vastness of the situation, and I have quite literally dived deep into in the East Pacific Ocean now, exploring a whole new underwater world.

I love the ocean and I have over 10 years of serious experience in water sports, so one  would think that diving would be an easy sport for me to transition into, YET it was one of my biggest fears. The idea of being “trapped” underwater weighed down with heavy equipment and not being able to surface quickly if there was an emergency due to nitrogen poisoning, was not a sport I found appealing. Still, when the opportunity arose sooner than expected, I bottled up my fear, took a deep dive and kept my eyes open.

Anilao, Philippines

  • Dive site: Anilao Beach Buzz and Dive Resort
  • 3 dives:
    • LigPo Island (34)
    • Dive N Trek (32)
    • Anliao Pier (42)

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  • Instructor: Nel (local Philippine)
  • Highlights:
    • Night dive!
      • Able to stay longer under water, because our max depth was only 10 meters (~32 feet)
      • Saw mini coconut octopus and cuttlefish

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(Coconut octopus photo cred to Russian diver friends we made on the trip at Anilao Beach Buzz and Dive Resort).

  • Feeding the fish
    • Tropical fish swarmed us as we released bread from water bottles

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  • Kevin’s underwater camera!
    • Able to capture some pretty cool creatures even without the red filter lens

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Koh Lanta, Krabi, Thailand

  • 6 dives – Koh Bida and Koh Haa
  • Instructor: Whale (local Thai)
    • *rare instance, to have a Thai instructor – most are foreigners. I think because I spoke Thai, Whale felt comfortable to go out with us
  • Highlight: cave swim throughs
    • Swam into a cave and surfaced into an air bubble cavern
    • Swam through the infamous Cathedral and other caves around Koh Haa islands

*pictures/video to be added later

Diving is not a typical sport for Peace Corps volunteers in Thailand to try out during their service – although Thailand is one of the cheapest countries in the world to be certified, it would take over a full month’s stipend to pay for certification, not to mention transportation to and from, and lodging on the islands. If volunteers do choose to get certified, many wait till their COS funds kick in at the end of service or friends/family foot the bill.

Thanks to Kevin visiting twice, we are both 13 dives deep just 6 months into the sport (more like our grown-up expensive hobby). 4 dives to get certified on Koh Tao and 9 dives this past April in the Philippines and southern Thailand (I’ll be treating Kevin to dives in the Americas in due time after I get a “real” job;)

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The Big Shift: How American Democracy Fails Its Way to Success

Thank you to Peace Corps for the free subscription to Foreign Affairs! Some of the most intelligent news-reporting available. Read the whole piece here: FA.thebigshift

“In many cases, citizens of democracies around the world today find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of the postbellum generation: facing problems whose origins cannot be fully understood, and whose solutions will ultimately require intellectual and political architecture that does not yet exist.”

Below is the concluding paragraph to the well written article by Walter Russel Mead. It’s refreshing to see a historical perspective on our current upheaval. The news can be a windshield so shrouded in pessimism it blurs our wider vision of possibilities and past patterns. It’s nice to read a healthy dose of realistic hope that accepts uncertainty. This transitional period in our country has happened before, during the Industrial Revolution, and we have wielded its disorder into progress. The Information Revolution is our new challenge; it’s not going to be easy, yet…

“Yet humans are problem-solving animals. We thrive on challenges. Americans, for their part, are the heirs to a system of mixed government and popular power that has allowed them to manage great upheavals in the past. The good news and the bad news are perhaps the same: the American people, in common with others around the world, have the opportunity to reach unimaginable levels of affluence and freedom, but to realize that opportunity, they must overcome some of the hardest challenges humanity has ever known. The treasure in the mountain is priceless, but the dragon who guards it is fierce.”

 

PCV Group 129: Lessons Learned (So Far)

Peace Corps Thailand Group 129 This quarter our staff voted on the theme, “What have you learned from Peace Corps?” We reached out to all 49 volunteers of Group 129 and asked them for a quick response. After reflecting on their first year of service (and a barrage of messages on multiple social media platforms) […]

via Group 129 Yearbook: What We’ve Learned So Far — Sticky Rice // สทิคีไรส์