Kayla Moore, Akumal Divemaster Intern
Volunteering in Akumal was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I get my PADI Divemaster certification, I gained valuable experience, knowledge of the reef ecosystem and friends I am sure I will have for a lifetime. It was so great to help out with projects like coral restoration and community outreach so I could actually see the impact I was making on marine conservation efforts. I would recommend this program to anyone!
I’ll start in saying I got MUCH more out of this program than was offered by the brochure. This was entirely in thanks to the passion and initiative of the GVI staff there. They are a singular group of people. The extra efforts made by staff provided so much more than the opportunity to observe and learn about spectacular wildlife. Their efforts greatly advanced our experience in the field of wildlife conservation and research. Easily one of my favorite parts of my time on Karongwe, apart from incredible wildlife sightings, was learning how to track animals. Furthermore, the experience I gained working with camera traps and taking data for cheetah kill sites was contributory to my landing a research assistantship with a PhD student at the University of Washington this fall. My time with GVI Limpopo was so much more than voluntourism. I would not hesitate to urge anyone with the remotest interest in this program to take part in it and assure them they will gain from it much more than is offered. My time there provided me with an education that no classroom could match, experiences I could not possibly forget, and skills that have already begun to open new doors for me in the realm of wildlife research and conservation.
The extra involvement in the project that is given to the interns gave me a great feeling of ‘ownership’ for what we were doing. The longer length of time spent on the base by the interns is great too because it gives us a chance to see the progress and difference that the programme is making.
The staff is around at all times while you’re on project and they can answer your questions and support you. I felt safe and they helped me develop. I don’t regret my decision, choosing GVI for one second, and I would do it again.
The experience I gained during my time training with GVI has allowed me to go on to work within the conservational research field. This has been a stepping stone into a career in conservation that I would not have had access to without the GVI Internship program.
GVI afforded me the opportunity of gaining valuable practical experience relevant to the environmental management and impact assessment fields. Further to this it also provides the individual with a unique experience in a visually stunning and stimulating environment. I would recommend this to any individuals wishing to further themselves with regard to environmental science and would be ideally suited for recent graduates looking to develop their practical ability after the theory of University.
However, thanks to GVI I have been able to try many new things that would not have been possible at home and as a result have found that I love to teach and was able to get more involved with this through the internship.
Thanks to the experience I have gained working with GVI, I have secured a place on a PGCE Primary Teaching course at my first choice university.
I wanted to travel after university and this seemed like a great way to experience new things whilst gaining some experience diving. It was a great opportunity for me to do volunteering, diving and travel all together in one package. I had learnt to dive 2 years before and fallen in love with it; this program meant I could do that every day. I learnt so much about diving and became very confident with my marine conservation training that I went on to return to GVI to teach new volunteers. I arrived as an Open Water diver and left as an Assistant Instructor nine months later. In that time not only had I become a competent leader in the water but I had also gained experiences I would have never got anywhere else. I became a new person through my experiences with GVI. I became someone who made a difference with the conservation and teaching that I did and try to carry on doing as an instructor. The nine months I spent with GVI are some of the most memorable from the friends that I have and the adventures we had. I couldn’t go back to normal life so now I am travelling the world teaching people to dive the way I got to learn, in a relaxed care free environment, protecting the reef for the future.
I was determined to make sure my time at the care centre was as worthwhile as possible. I focused more on improving things that can be maintained long term which made me improve a lot of my employability skills.
I feel I need to share this with past, present and future volunteers. Children don’t just make small talk; they don’t make conversation just to fill the silence the way adults do. These kids ask because truly, each volunteer who have walked through those gates has made an impression. These kids are genuinely aware of our presence, and takes advantage of every opportunity they can to spend time with you- if you let them. One rule of the Ludoteca is to leave all your problems and ailments outside the gates; I feel that this is true not just for the kids, but for every volunteer too. It’s impossible to feel miserable here.
My success with GVI can all be linked to the fantastic foundation that the internship provided me.