Drum roll – preferably the steel drum number from Under The Sea, if possible – please: Today, I’m proud to be making one of the biggest announcements of my blogging career. An announcement that’s been in the works for six months – or if you look at it another way, six years.
I’m a PADI AmbassaDiver for 2016.
I first heard the term “PADI,” the world’s leading scuba diver training organization, in 2009. I’d just arrived on Koh Tao and had a faint inkling that maybe, despite my fears and doubts, I needed to give this whole scuba diving thing a try. Six years, several certifications and hundreds of dives later, I’m back on Koh Tao again – a PADI Divemaster, a grant recipient from the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, and now, an ambassador for the PADI brand to boot. It’s hard not to feel like things have come full circle in the most perfect kind of way. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do and writing exactly what I’m supposed to write.
Some of you already know the whole story. Completing my PADI Open Water in Thailand was a turning point for me. The following summer, I completed my Advanced Open Water in the Cayman Islands while completing an apprenticeship that first introduced me to underwater videography. Upon my return to the US, I attended the Beneath The Sea dive show for the first time, learning about an organization called the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame.
Eventually, I fulfilled my dream of moving back to Thailand and begun working as an underwater videographer by day, and a travel blogger by night. Ever a student, I applied for the WDHOF’s continuing education grant and to my delight, I won! I used the grant to move to Indonesia to complete my PADI Divemaster training. By then, this blog was a full time job, and I was thrilled to have a platform from which to encourage others to join me underwater.
Why I Love PADI
Ever since the first day of my Open Water course, PADI has represented excellence in standards, compassion in conservation, a way to make friends and see new places, and a certification card that is recognized around the world. Here’s a little more on why I’m so excited to partner with the biggest name in diving.
• Education: For this right brained creative, all the “science-y” stuff surrounding diving seemed overwhelming at first. I can’t explain the pride I felt acing the physics sections of my Divemaster training – my PADI education gave that to me.
• Friendship: Diving has brought so many treasured relationships into my life – those with friends, mentors, and beyond – moreso than any other hobby or passion. The only way I can explain it is that diving is such a special experience, sharing it with someone creates a special bond.
• Wanderlust: PADI opened the world up for me. I want to dive it all. I want to do a liveaboard in Raja Ampat. I want to dive with whales off the coast of Domenica. I want to see the kelp forests in California, to swim with sharks in the Galapagos, and to submerge myself in the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve had a serious case of wanderlust since long before I know what size wetsuit I wore, but diving has given my travels direction and focus.
• Conservation: My zeal for diving ignited a second, perhaps more important passion for me – conservation. Coming face to face with the crises facing our reefs and oceans inspired me not just to make changes in my own life but also to share what I’d learned with others. That spark of awareness diving inspired in me prompted me to lead a more sustainable, contentious life – and that will stay with me forever.
• Work opportunities: PADI’s slogan is, the way the world learns to dive. Over the years, I’ve had countless readers write to me asking for tips on how to work in the dive industry. Long before I had any affiliation with them, my response was set – if you’re planning to go pro, you’ve got to dive PADI. There’s simply no other certification that opens the door to as many dive jobs around the world. And while there’s no sugar coating the fact that it can be a tough one with long hours and low pay (tip your instructors, y’all), I think we can all agree you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful office.
What This Means For Us
I’ll be writing diving-specific content each month, some to be published here on Alex in Wanderland, and some to be published on the PADI website. Of course, those of you who have been around for a while know that as one of my fave topics, diving often comes up much more often than that. So basically, it will be business as usual. The main difference is you’ll probably notice me talking about PADI a bit more on social media, and hopefully working to arrange some fun giveaways and getaways for you.
For me, this means a huge professional milestone, a chance to further pursue my passions, and the opportunity to reach an even wider audience by writing for PADI.com. Follow that link to find my articles on their fin-tastic blog!
As always, I’ll be looking for diving opportunities everywhere I go – for my travels in 2016 this means potentially enrolling in some advanced tech courses here in Thailand, doing some fun diving along the coast of Brazil, and looking into some weekend liveaboards when I’m in California. I’m also excited about potentially attending my first DEMA (the largest diving conference in the world!) in Las Vegas in November. Who knows? I might even be able to sneak a dedicated Caribbean dive trip into my summer like I did last year.
For now, I’d love you hear from YOU. (Duh!) What diving topics do you want to hear about? If you’re a diver, what dive spot or certification course do you want to tackle next? If you’re not, what’s stopping you? Let’s blow some bubbles in the comments!
This post is brought to you by PADI as part of the PADI AmbassaDiver initiative.