Fish Days Are Over: Counting Down to Earthraging 2017
The entire month of Earthraging is over! It whizzed by so fast that before we knew it our last snorkel trip was behind us, and, judging by the swarms of lingering students outside the ESL office every day, it seems like we weren’t the only ones that felt this way! Students constantly stop us on our way to class to present arguments for why they should be chosen to go snorkeling next week, and we have to constantly break the news that they’d have to wait until next year. At least the students will definitely have a lot to look forward to!
Just because the snorkel days are over doesn’t mean that Earthraging is! Now that our Tuesdays and Wednesdays are back on track, we are trying everything we can to set up Divemaster Internships for a few select students as a possible career path for our RPK high school students once they have graduated. This process has entailed periodic meetings with Wicked Diving (the dive company thanks to which this is possible), conversations with students to learn more about their interests and post-graduation plans, and plenty of paperwork between our superhero supervisor Lak and the RPK administration. The vision is to have enthusiastic and exemplary students embark on their underwater career adventures through an internship with Wicked Diving, where the students will obtain various scuba certifications, learning about the marine biosphere, learning about the ins and outs of working in the diving industry, and finally culminating in their Divemaster certifications and the ability to work as a local dive guide for their career paths.
Reflections from the RPK Volunteers:
“I was THRILLED to have the opportunity to come back to RPK this fall and help with the Earthraging 2016 program! It was amazing to see students who were a part of the program last year act as leaders this year as well as the excitement and abundance of smiles from the newcomers and veterans alike. As always, Wicked Diving was unbelievably involved from start to finish – especially in expanding the program by bringing together local environmental organizations (Andaman Sweet Lips, Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, and Shark Guardian) to participate in the program. Lastly, couldn’t be more proud of the new PiA fellows (Bing, Byron, & Dallas) for doing such a wonderful job keeping this program alive! A HUGE thank you to Haley, Clare, and Brady for starting this program, our wonderful partners, Khun Lak, the Bangsak boys, and all of the students for all of your hard work – endless appreciation to you all!”
“Earthraging was an amazing experience. After spending a semester getting to know these kids in the classroom, it was so rewarding to see their faces light up with excitement on the beach, at the pool and finally on the boats. It was so wonderful to watch as the hands-on learning atmosphere built passion and concern for the environment among the students. I’m so grateful to Wicked Diving and all of our partners for allowing us to bring such memorable experiences and learning opportunities to these incredible kids!”
“In Earthraging 2016, it was the small things that had the greatest impact on me—Ton clearing his snorkel for the first time, Oak seeing his first lionfish, Wave’s wide eyes duck diving in the open ocean. Gratifying moments were the endpoints of all the hours of hard work and (wo)manpower put in by all the selfless parties involved. The warmest thanks to Wicked Diving, Andaman Sweetlips Dive Center, Shark Guardian, Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, and to Libby Faus and Khun Lak for making the literal dreams of so many kids come true this year!”
“What an incredible couple of weeks of smiling and laughing from the kids I’ve come to adore over the past year. Getting the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking beaches a couple hundred feet away from the school with the kids was so meaningful. Education can take place anywhere, and we are so lucky that we had the resources and support to make the beaches of Bangsak our environmental classroom – a huge thanks to everyone who helped make it possible! Earthraging is growing every year, touching more members of this community, and I can’t wait to see the program continue to flourish and impact more students!”