The #SeeingBlue team is looking for a motivated, dynamic and values-driven young person to join us as we embark on the next chapter of our initiative.
#SeeingBlue is an initiative by youth, for youth, to empower a generation of Seatizens: champions, activists, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and changemakers for our oceans. Its objective is to give youth a seat at the decision-making table where oceans are being discussed whilst providing the tools to craft and implement solutions for healthier oceans. #SeeingBlue was launched in Mauritius in 2014 as a joint initiative of the Port Louis Hub of the Global Shapers Community and the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH). Now in its third edition, #SeeingBlue has been expanded to include the Seychelles. As our scope grows bigger, we are looking for a dynamic, self-motivated and values-driven young person to join our team.
The details are as follows:
JOB TITLE: #SeeingBlue fellowship
ASSIGNMENT PERIOD: 01 February 2018 - 30 August 2018 (7 months)
TIME COMMITMENT: 25 hours per week, including at least three days in the office, based in the Headquarters of SYAH, 3rd Floor, Blue Tower, Ebene (between 09.30am and 16.30). You may also be required to attend coordination calls/ meetings/ events after hours or during weekends as and when the need arises.
REMUNERATION: A small stipend of Rs 5000 monthly will be paid to you to cover your travel costs to and from the SYAH office.
#SeeingBlue is made up of three pillars: (a) a yearly competition targeting young people between the age of 13 - 30; (b) a ‘roundtable’ multi-stakeholder Dialogue series; (c) capacity building to empower young people in their advocacy and action for the ocean. Its scope includes Mauritius and the Seychelles. The #SeeingBlue Fellow will be responsible for providing administrative, communications and logistical support to the core #SeeingBlue team.
WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR
We’re excited to expand our team and are looking for someone who is a good fit! Our ideal team-mate is passionate about young people, sustainable development and making a difference. You must also be eager to learn. We are also looking for the following:
Open to Mauritians / residents of Mauritius.
#SeeingBlue is based on a vision: that young people become the drivers of the sustainable development and protection of our oceans. As islanders, we believe that the ocean is our heritage, and our next frontier for development. The development of the blue economy should be inclusive and sustainable. By joining the team, you would be contributing to make this vision a reality whilst honing your leadership, people, networking and communication skills. You will also be part of a pioneering group of young people in the sphere of the ocean economy. We also believe that the role will give you key insights into the non-profit and ocean sectors as well as regional experience.
The Port Louis Hub is the Mauritian chapter of the Global Shapers Community, one of the stakeholder communities of the World Economic Forum for young leaders under the age of 33. Organised in city-based ‘Hubs’, the Global Shapers Community is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and focuses on creating local, community impact. Its objective is to ensure that youth have a key role to play in setting the agenda and have a seat at the decision-making table.
SYAH is a regional, youth-led organization connecting young people from eight Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Africa and Asia so that they can collaboratively advance sustainable development across these islands through high-impact projects and campaigns, whilst building their capacity and giving them the credible platform to effectively engage in policy-making at all levels. SYAH operates through locally-led, legally registered SYAH chapters with a total count of over 145 members.
DEADLINE TO APPLY: 7 JANUARY 2017
At the end of March, nine Mauritius-based members of the Seeing Blue team decided to dedicate their Saturday morning to a routine-breaking, hands-on team activity: a scuba diving initiation. Our group consisted of one experienced, PADI-licensed diver; three girls who'd gone on one or two dives before; and five neophytes who were as excited as they were scared.
We chose the dive centre Ocean Spirit in Péreybère, on the island's northwestern coast, because of its large and professional team. While our two instructors, Menon and Vishal, were super chill, full of smiles and jokes, they were also rigorous and patient in briefing us over the basics of how to handle our gear and “behave” underwater. What should I do if saltwater infiltrates my mask? Do I paddle like crazy? (Answer: No. Paddle gently but consistently, with your legs straight yet not stiff). How do I say “OK” and “Uh oh” with my hands? How to you call this special jacket (BCD – Buoyancy Control Device)? What is this “thingy” dangling by my right knee (emergency regulator)? And the most recurring question – how do I breathe? Our fears were what you'd expect them to be: There won't be enough oxygen in this large metallic cylinder (which one of our neophyte mermaids, Teenah, found to significantly heavier than her frame). The regulator (i.e. mouth “thingy”) will slip from my mouth and I won't be able to put it back in place (You will. You'll blow into it to remove the water – or press on the button that expels air – and plop it back in). My lungs aren't strong enough. Etcetera.
Krishnee and Teenah smiling in their wetsuits at 8:30 a.m. This is Krishnee's first time too.
We split into two teams because the boat couldn't handle the weight of all of us. While the first batch headed for the open sea – breeze in their hair, neon fins on – the rest of us were kindly invited to the nearby house of the dive center's owner, Jill, to look at photos and videos of local marine species. We went to the dive site “Ti Corail” (“Small Corals,” as bad English translation), the easiest one out of the center's eight choices, where we'd be going down to only 7 meters. No pool for us: we're grown-up kids who are expected to be brave enough to jump directly into (or rather, tumble backwards into – see below) the wide, wide blue.
We tumble backwards from the boat's edge because of the heaviness of the cylinder (hard to stand up!) and to not lose control of our facemask (hand on mask!) and any loose hoses/attachments. Apologies for the red filter – it's an underwater camera.
Krishnee, Sid and I (Ameerah) found this tumble to be the most daunting part. You don't have eyes at the back of your head. It's a moment when you need to quietly trust gravity and the waters. If you're bottling stress from work/school/relationship or family drama or are weighed down by regrets heavier than your lead belt, this is a potentially psychologically powerful moment, when you corporealize your feelings and literally “let go” (thinking of that annoying song from Frozen also helps).
You sink for a few seconds, then rise back up (thanks to the BCD that the instructor has adjusted – only with more experience are you allowed to fiddle with it yourself). Like Krishnee later said in a Facebook post, even if she was scared “out of her wits” for her first three minutes in the water, “ships are safe at the harbour, but that's not what ships are made for.” :)
We then slowly descended with the help of a rope that'd been tethered to the bottom.
Karuna was on her third dive; her second had been with sharks in a tank in Australia. She's making the “OK” sign.
The pressure increases with each few centimeters. You have to equalize your ears so they don't pop. Hold your breath, pinch your nose, push the air against the inside of your ear canals. Repeat. I hadn't expected the surrounding water to feel so heavy – it really was like entering an elementally different world. The heaviness was compensated by the freedom-inducing “boundless lengths of sea” visible 360° around you, to quote Sid (another first-timer). She remarked that, as a bipedal, terrestrial human living in the urbanized 21st century, a large part of her daily view of the horizon is obstructed by buildings, wires, trees, etc. Under the sea, this wasn't the case, and she could truly sense the largeness of the world (oceans cover 71% of our planet).
Krishnee unpopping her ears and getting used to her new environment.
As an asthmatic person (I had to get a medical authorization letter to do this), breathing underwater reminded me of being on a nebulizer. I had to pay attention to every breath. It was strangely peaceful. I was constrained, yet liberated. Like ghostly jellyfish, bubbles rose up, shimmered in the sunlight, then dissipated. Sid – who, above sea-level, is over-energized and hasty when it comes to work and a disco queen in her free time – said that breathing underwater forced her to take things slowly. Not only in inhaling and exhaling, but also in moving around, observing a fish slowly swim in a straight line, just being. Being intimately aware of your basic bodily functions in the now. And being aware of how you're sharing the same space with these strange fish, ancient polyps, quiet starfish, stripped snakes who exist in their own right, inhabit a body distinctly different from your own but an ecosystem that interacts with yours.
Learning to breathe underwater is an exercise in trust and patience (both Sid and Teenah had difficulty with it at first, one feeling her mouth dry up from her nitrogen in the bottled air, the other having to be brought back to the surface for a moment after forgetting the technique). But it is also an exercise in acknowledging that we share the same sub-atmospheric environment with other living things, who are always there under the sparkling azure you see from the beach, creatures with nervous systems, colourful fins, tentacles, and lungs which have the same right to breath as us, us silly and (oftentimes) selfish homo sapiens. After all, the overarching purpose of Seeing Blue and our diving initiation is to make us more intensely aware of the existence of this life – and determined to share the #blueplanet in a more intelligent, empathetic, and respectful way with it.
Making hearts with our hands under the water :)
Back on the surface and smiling :)
As island-dwellers, the sea should be an important part of our identity and consciousness. As young people, the future of the ocean's health concerns us even more than other sections of the population. This is why Seeing Blue 2017 is bringing together the youth of two small islands (Mauritius and Seychelles) in a safe space where they can:
◦ empower themselves with ocean-related knowledge and leadership skills;
◦ come in direct contact with the sea through activities like this diving initiation;
◦ meet like-minded young people who are passionate about the intersections of environmental + social justice;
◦ meet experienced mentors (eg: oceanographers) who can guide them in creating projects for protecting the ocean and joining the marine industry (hey, the traditional “doctor/lawyer/HS teacher” jobs our parents tend to pressurize us into are quickly becoming saturated – whereas other areas deeply relevant to our island-nations lack professionals!!)
◦ get the project management skills and access to financial resources to set up the aforementioned projects.
◦become assertive decision-makers when it comes ocean-related issues, potentially influencing policy on the national, regional or even international scale.