I recently found this in my digital diary from after I returned from the first leg of the Global Reef Expedition to the Cay Sal Bank. around May 6th 2011
Today, as I write, two Bahamian students from The College of the Bahamas are on The Global Reef Expedition. Chefs prepare 5 star meals for them three times a day. They sleep on a 200 meter motor yacht owned by Prince Khaled bin Sultan, with access to wireless satellite internet, a TV, DVD player and stereo in their room. The boat has an elevator capable of lifting a sea plane onto the deck, along with the other eight small boats on board the larger vessel. One of the small tenders even has wheels to drive up on land. That is just the tip of the ice berg.
These students are part of the future of science in the Bahamas, and that is where the real story is. Like most Bahamians with a gift for science, they have felt the push toward medical science, pharmacy, dentistry, but they pushed back. They chose a path that did not lead to small offices and clinics, locked up in a lab or seeing sick people all day. They felt the drive toward something else. Their office now spans the entire Cay Sal Bank. They are working with some of the most advanced technologies and techniques. They sit down daily with leaders in coral reef science. Their experience will help them protect the future of our marine resources.
Sadly, we are few. Not all Bahamians know how to swim. Bahamians that SCUBA dive are even fewer. Add to our qualifications an interest in science and wildlife, computer literacy and the willingness to work in remote locations, for little to no pay and the numbers of Bahamians ready for the task at hand are few indeed.
Tradition dictates that we go to school, do well, try for college if you can and can afford it, study something safe for a sure job when you come home or sadly, don’t come home.
Forget tradition. Our jobs are far from traditional, we are the future. Scientists that will discover the next chemical compound to revolutionize medicine, or prevent our Nassau Grouper fishery from collapsing like other Caribbean nations, to ensure food security and livelihoods for our ocean nation.
Our jobs are not exactly safe either. I worked as a pool cleaner with three science degrees before I found my current position and I have seen opportunities come and go. I have fallen in sink holes miles from the nearest road. I have been stranded on remote islands with no communication. I have fallen in holes on remote islands with no communication. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I have been to San Salvador in the East, Grand Bahama in the North, Inagua in the South and The Cay Sal Bank in the west. I have seen our iguanas, hutias, hummingbirds, orioles and parrots, found nowhere else in the world. I have spoken with our Prime Ministers, and Governor Generals, and our preschoolers, college graduates and teachers. I work to protect the Bahamas’ natural resources from overharvest. I am challenged every day. My job is not traditional and I love it.