Wayfinder Learning Lab

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.

A Megadose of Vitamin Sea

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15 years since we last dived… and we came back to the same place, Gili Air.

Transition years can be full-on and exhausting. New country, new role, new friends, kids, colleagues, tech, language, environment, expectations, opportunities. Embracing the new and trying to avoid old traps. Parenting through transitions and creating new memories. Overcoming challenges when things go wrong or culture shock hits.

We’ve been fortunate to land in a city and a school racing towards the future. Beijing five years ago was a hard no, but we tracked the environmental data, learned from friends and have arrived at a time when I think the transition is easier than ever. It is getting cleaner, there are technical solutions to almost all communication, transport and shopping issues (WeChat and Microsoft Translate are awesome). People are friendly and there are loads of things to do. The only thing static about Beijing is the air.

It is very, very dry.

Sadly one of the things we loved we’d had to leave behind in Japan was the ocean. And for a family like us that has been a challenge. The move overall has been great and I needed to make a dramatic change in work-life balance and stress. I think we’ve been doing OK with that and need to protect it with the new role next year. Breathing sea air is not much use when you’re too stressed and burned out to jump in.

So it was brilliant to get back to Indonesia for a week, for a megadose of vitamin sea. The last time we visited Lombok, almost 15 years ago, I was just finishing up as an ESL teacher. Hesty wanted to learn to dive, and I had a question to ask. I spent everything I had (it was not much) and took her to Gili Air. She learned to dive. We got engaged. I left for the PGCE, she finished her degree.

Soon enough I was back in Indonesia, in a new IB school in Jakarta. We saved up, got a proper ring, got married and had Anya. Moved to Bandung and had Samudra (“Ocean” in Indonesian, via Sanskrit). Seven years in beautiful Japan and now Beijing.

Fifteen years since I last dived went by in a heartbeat. We made it back to Lombok with kids big enough for an adventure. One Bubblemaker, one Junior Open Water diver, three surfers, four ocean lovers. We saw turtles and corals and spoke lots of Indonesian. We learned about the work of the Gili Shark Conservation team and helped out on a beach clean. We were encouraged to see that although so many years had passed and development had inevitably taken hold, the changes were not too dramatic. Lessons are being learned from Bali and there is a swing towards more sustainable choices.

This is where our heart is. We will be back.

This was super cool. Gili Shark Conservation told us about their work and mentioned that they could ID turtles. Sam was fired up to find the turtle we saw while we were snorkeling near Manta Dive and get a photo. One day the current was strong and visibilty was low. Then one day we saw it… and my GoPro camera door was open. He was gutted. I ran up to the dive centre and luckily another guest lent us their camera. We got the photos. A few days later, they sent us the pics, we sent them in and Andre from Gili Shark ID’d it as a new turtle: “H40 Samudra”! Awesome!

Author: Stephen

International Educator: China via Japan, Indonesia & the UK. Science educator, Learning & EdTech Coach. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer. MA International Education. Experienced Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator. Interested in curriculum, pedagogy, purposeful EdTech and global competence. Find out more: https://sjtylr.net/about. Science site: http://i-biology.net.

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