Interesting revelations can happen on Uber rides. I recently took an UberPool to the airport and wound up having the conversation that inspired this article. It went something like this:
I was the last of three people to be picked up by Paul, a veteran rideshare driver with an almost perfect rating, and we were all on our way to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Paul asked where we were headed. One rider was going back home to London after spending the past few days in Chicago as part of a U.S. architecture tour. The other rider was headed to Nashville to record some backup vocals for her friend’s band. And I was on my way to Hawaii to teach an underwater photography workshop. Three people, all traveling in completely different directions because their varied interests enticed them to visit specific places.
At the gate waiting for my flight to board, I thought about this interaction and how our interests and hobbies shape where we travel, what we see, and how we experience the places we visit. My connection to water has played a huge role in informing my travel choices, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Being a scuba diver and underwater photographer has brought me to Indonesia, Australia, Mexico, the Arctic, islands all over the Pacific, and countless places in between, introducing me to wonderful locations that most people barely even hear about, let alone consider visiting.
I’m extremely grateful for the world that has been opened up to me on account of getting my PADI dive certification at eighteen years old.
PADI stands for Professional Association of Dive Instructors, and isthe world’s largest recreational diver training organization. Four years ago, PADI took the initiative to start celebrating what they call the “biggest day in diving”on July 21st– PADI Women’s Dive Day. Since 1967, PADI has issued over 25 millions diver certifications in more than 200 countries, and issues around 900,000 certifications annually. According to the average stats from 2011-2016, 35% of those divers are women, while 65% are men.
The percentage of female divers is steadily creeping up to 40% (37.2% in 2016), but it’s a slow climb in an industry that was entirely dominated by men for decades. PADI’s efforts to actively reach out to women who are potentially interested in joining the dive community have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. PADI Women’s Dive Day has helped birth a movement of empowerment in the industry by inviting women everywhere to seek diving’s unique gifts of adventure, pride and courage. Since its onset in 2015, PADI Women’s Dive Day has grown from 335 events in 65 countries to nearly 900 events in 85 countries in 2017.
“PADI Women’s Dive Day has gained impressive global momentum as the largest celebration in diving. We are proud to continue to close the gender gap among certified divers year after year, allowing all adventure-seeking women to fulfill their quest for ocean exploration and discovery,” says Kristin Valette-Wirth, chief marketing and business development officer for PADI Worldwide.
“In this fourth year, we remain committed to inspiring and empowering all divers to join us for a day of fun and passion, and to honor the incredible female divers around the world.”
Diving is a wonderful sport that provides its participants with a host of benefits. It encourages you to experience the world from a new perspective by providing divers with the skill set needed to explore the other 71% of our planet. Diving is also a great opportunity to indulge in some mental health time; being underwater is the ultimate getaway from outside distractions, allowing you to focus and experience calm and peace below the surface.
Becoming a diver introduces you to a totally new social sphere of like-minded individuals who share your spirit of adventure and passion for travel. It’s also a great way to obtain a sense of accomplishment and pride,each new dive experience leading to increased confidence and personal growth. But maybe most importantly, diving fosters understanding of and appreciation for the underwater world and its connection to the lives we all lead on land. Dive adventures introduce you to people all over the world who will educate you about aquatic ecosystems, inspiring you to protect them and pass on that message of preservation to others.
Scuba is a way of life, and has been my way of life for the last thirteen years. It has allowed me to travel the globe, meet hundreds of fascinating water people, and see our beautiful planet Earth for what it truly is: planet Ocean. I would encourage anyone looking for a fulfilling change of perspective to give diving a try. It changed my life for the better and is just waiting to do the same for yours.
Come on in, the water’s fine.