My MWSRP Reflections: The decision to sign up for this program was quite a simple one. My parents were highly against any other programs involving man-eating animals (lions & great whites), so at first I thought I was getting my third choice. Little would i know that my third choice would turn out to be the best choice.
The Maldives has to be by far the most amazing countries I have ever visited. Endless clear blue oceans and little islands litter the island-state. Immediately on landing, the home-sick guy just forgot about home. I remember being met at the seaplane landing by Neal (now Programme Development and Policy Officer). He showed me around the “base” and got me all the gear I would need for the next 3 weeks. To be honest I hadn’t swum nor snorkeled for the last 5 years before landing in the Maldives, and I’m sure they noticed me taking an awfully long time to get my feet wet. Free-diving lessons were much welcomed, it took a while (a long while) but I eventually was able to do it, albeit just a few feet down.
My first venture out to sea wasn’t very eventful. Okay I lied, I saw my first whale shark, and I forgot I was underwater and shouted “Oh my God”, which led to me swallowing some of the Maldivian seawater.
Before this turns out to be an autobiography, let me just say thanks to the team at MWSRP, especially to Neal, Jim and Richard for the warm hospitality and patience with me over the 3 weeks bunking, swimming and chilling with them. Thanks also to Katie (now the Volunteer Manager), Rifaee (now Marine Biologist), Bucky, Canon, Ayesha, Deborah and Kim for everything we’ve shared over there. It’s been a blast and the highlight of my life so far. Hopefully we all get to do it again.
For those of you who are considering taking time out from your life to do this. I say to you… “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?!” You get to swim with Whale Sharks, get involved in learning more about them, interact with the local community, hang out with locals, experience Maldivian culture, meet people from all walks of life, and be part of something really really special.
It’s been great and I hope I go back, soon.