Reflecting on Issues of Global Importance

(Wikimedia Commons)

After returning from the winter break and beginning a new year, a reflection upon my activities from last semester are long overdue. In particular I’m going to reflect on issues of global importance that concern some of my activities:

In Model United Nations (MUN), I actively engage with these issues by listening and discussing during practice debates in the sessions at school. As a whole MUN is researching, speaking, and debating and drafting with resolutions about complex issues internationally. It is simulation of the UN which strives to solve and discuss issues from different nation’s perspectives. My first practice debate especially showed me so many stances on gender equality across the world. Sometimes in MUN I feel slightly useless, discussing and speaking on issues but not being able to directly take action. However, MUN is still incredibly important in my understanding of issues of global importance because it provides me with multiple viewpoints from countries all around the world and that understanding is a good way to take action and help me be already aware of why I do service and why we all do community service, or why we learn what we do in History class, or in other classes. I can’t speak as well as the other experienced MUNers, but I hope I can develop that skill more as it’s important, especially considering world leaders today; its important to speak up about an issue locally & globally. 

Scuba diving with PADI also taught me certain issues related to the ocean that are of international concern. I learned a lot about environmental concerns in scuba diving, especially about global warming and ocean acidification and conserving marine wildlife. All the e-learning and even short bursts of information from our instructors reminded us of this concern. When we went diving it was made clear not to remove anything from the ocean back to shore, like coral; and our instructor even was able to remove garbage from the ocean in one of our dives. We were also taught certain safety measures and those are important skills to have. The course especially strengthened my knowledge about ocean acidification, pollution, the bleaching of coral reefs and importance of corals and the protection of marine wildlife. Knowing all this allowed me to become a responsible and eco-conscious scuba diver. Since I want to be able to dive in other places besides Sri Lanka, it is good to know the issues associated with scuba that affect other parts of the world as well.

Imprisonment is a huge issue globally. The treatment of prisoners across different countries varies and it is something that must be taken into account when considering the degrees of crimes and punishment. In my opinion, there is a huge stigma surrounding prison and prison culture worldwide. Through this service, I was able to see a different perspective, through the surroundings and my own experience. Outside of the Welikada Prison that we visit as a service group, there are murals of prisoners doing work and underneath it, it states “Prisoners are human beings”. When we drive up to the women’s ward, there are more murals of women nursing children. On a local scale through my service group, Prison Outreach, we were able to more thoroughly understand sensitivities associated with prison and reach out to the imprisoned women and even their children. In particular we heard a lot of interesting things about the prison and the likelihood of fights breaking out in the women’s ward, etc. These sort of stories molded a negative image in my mind of what the children had to face and made me a little nervous to go in the first place. However, getting a chance to see inside the prison and do small things for them like provide them with food, play with them and teach them, really changed my view of how I perceived prison to be. I joined this service initially for helping women reestablish themselves and restart their lives after prison, but interacting with the kids let me see that they were such bright, happy children who deserved more than the image of miserable kids stuck in a dreary prison. I personally never really thought I could get along with kids, especially ones 5 years and younger. Yet any opportunity we can give them to smile is always my favorite thing about this service.

 

Advertisements

Scuba Diving – Open Water Dives & Certification!

This past semester, I managed to become a certified Open Water Diver through PADI! As mentioned in a previous post, there were a lot of prerequisites to achieve this. After the dives in the pool at OSC, all that was left was to test out the same skills in an open water situation. This prompted our 2 visits to HikkaTranz in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, where we organized 4 open water dives. Thank you to the instructors and especially Anjileen for taking so many shots of us and thank you Ms. Clover for providing me with them!

IMG_5690

training in the OSC pool

The First and Second Dive (November 28, 2015)
I was a little nervous at first as after all by the time I got on the boat after the briefing because we practiced a backroll entry. I had to sit at the side of the boat and push myself off backwards into the water with all my scuba gear. After I accomplished that, I really had nothing to be afraid of. I enjoyed the first two dives which I recorded into my dive journal and even managed to complete my dive review that checked if I had remembered knowledge from the e-learning.

We practiced more skills and later on went for a dive at Hikka Cave! One of the biggest hurdles while doing the open water dives was with equalizing and equalization. Going down proved to be a difficulty when my ears ached so badly and even though I thought I equalized enough, whenever my ears ached I had become panicky. Afterwards on the second dive that day, I managed to fix this problem and equalized more often. I saw a lot of nice fish () and swimming and diving with a group was definitely an experience I won’t forget.

The Third and Last Dive for Certification! (December 5, 2015)

On these dives there were focuses on using the compass. I have terrible sense of direction but with the instructors’ guidances, it became easier. As a person who is easily discouraged, their advice actually aided me tremendously in challenging myself and practicing skills. Even when I faced difficulty performing a skill they had patience with me. Underwater without communication, using the compass was the hardest. I found myself curving around and taking a long route to get to my destination instead of swimming in a straight line. Sometimes I also swam too much and started swimming upwards, making it difficult for my buddy to catch up. Nevertheless, I kept this in mind for next time and above water, compass work was a lot easier so I knew it was just a matter of fixing my own posture while holding the compass.

Another problem that I faced was with when my tank started to run low on air, I happened to start to shoot upwards towards the surface. It was very scary because I was trying my best to control it and continue downwards but in my panic I had gone upwards quickly which also scared Anjileen. This was the last dive, and so I was not able to fix this or figure out exactly why it happened. I think next time I need to work more on buoyancy control as much as possible to prevent it, because mid-way through a dive, shooting upwards and panicking is not an ideal situation.

I ended up getting stuck with sea lice that left mosquito-like bites all around my skin at the edges where my wetsuit were, and it was an awful sensation that lasted a good week. Even though it was a bad way to celebrate my certification, I’m excited for other great things under the sea!

IMG_5890


Certified!
I finally got my certification over the break. Although I was in Malaysia, I was moving around a lot from two hometowns. I hope I can buy certain gears soon that are suitable and comfortable for me.

I hope I can go on more scuba diving adventures with the scuba divers present at OSC. Although January and February are very busy months for me at the moment, I have a lot of hopes for the spring and the summer. There is a chance I can go back to Malaysia and dive there. I want to continue to strengthen my skills in diving and my awareness of the ocean so, in the coming months, I will try my hardest to make time for it and challenge myself again. I am also super grateful for all of the instructors Anjileen, Jehan and Jurgen who helped us have a safe and also enjoyable experience in scuba diving!

 

Scuba Diving – eLearning and Dives

I started the scuba diving session recently and so far, I enjoy it very much. I chose to do scuba diving this part of the semester so in the future, I can explore more dive sites especially in my home country, Malaysia, and I know it would be a challenge for me because its something I’ve never done before.

Despite the challenge, the practical dives help me review what I learned in their online eLearning course. The eLearning course teaches skills and general knowledge about being a diver. I hope I can perform better and improve because I am definitely determined on putting a lot of effort in this Open Water Diver course and to have fun. 

So far I’ve completed 4 of the 5 confined water dives, where we used our scuba gear in the OSC pool. Those aided me a lot on strengthening my skills and learn how to apply everything I read and studied via the eLearning.  

image002

underwater camera of our 3rd and 4th confined dive in OSC pool

In the confined dives I felt very motivated and did not get discouraged easily, although I did get upset whenever I couldn’t master a skill after I tried many times. In the end I got into the mentality to calm down and to focus more on perfecting and developing whatever skill I need rather than rushing and trying to get it completed within a certain time. Im grateful for the instructors, Jurgen, Jehan, and Anjileen, who were encouraging us, having patience with us and generally give us tips. On Saturday, November 28th 2015, we are going to have our first two open water dives at Hikkaduwa.