A little while ago I wrote a blog for Zoox about my volunteering experiences in marine conservation, convinced that it was the last one I would ever write. Yet, here I am again, writing a blog. This time, not for Zoox but for The Reef-World Foundation (RWF) (sister charity of Zoox).  Yes, I am back in the Philippines and not as a volunteer, but stepping up as an intern.   I never could have guessed that this is what I would be doing, when I first went diving a little more than a year ago. Obsessed with diving, I dreamed about a job that would combine that interest with my passion for sustainability. But how to do that?  I didn’t study marine biology but political science so nobody would ever hire me right? Well, true passion brings you already a long way, or rather 7000 miles in my case.

My volunteering in Asia brought me the necessary experience and a first taste what it felt like to work in marine conservation. And I am thirsty for more. Working as an intern is one step closer to chasing that dream. During this internship, I get the chance to be part of the daily operations of an international conservation organization. I learn all about the administrative, financial, promotional side of marine conservation, while working with a variety of stakeholders. I meet a lot of motivated people that truly inspire me.  I have the opportunity to conduct Green Fins assessments in Moalboal and Malapascua. This is still my favorite part of the job. I get to dive a lot, I get to give awareness raising presentations (which I now like doing), and consult with managers on a plan of action on how to reduce their environmental risk.

In between the assessments, my days in the office are filled with writing articles, reports, blogs and updating social media. I also have to develop a tier system in our training material to guarantee the awareness raising presentations meet stakeholder expectations. Every day I learn more while the RWF team makes sure I get the opportunity to capitalize on my earlier experiences.  Giving presentations is something I used to lay awake for, meeting stakeholders I would prepare for days and days, but no longer as it is now part of my daily routine.  I also get to further expand my personal project on waste management, to provide solutions for dive centers to dispose of their hazardous waste responsibly (such as used engine oil or empty batteries). I am trying to identify opportunities to establish public-private partnerships between Local Government Units and recycling companies in the Philippines. If I manage to pull this off, this will prove to be a long-term solution with real conservation impact. So definitely a very busy agenda to realise during these four months of my internship but I am excited to make the most out of it.