After months of planning and a busy long weekend of last-minute program prep by faculty and staff, we finally kicked off the Pacific Reefs Expedition today! Woohoo!
Literally months of planning goes into each SEA program. The ship’s schedule is set 1-2 years in advance. Research permit requests often need to be submitted 6-9 months before the program starts. Of course, there’s months of planning logistics of a remote shore component, research and sailing, and academic curriculum. The faculty and staff teaching the shore component in Oahu, Hawaii arrived a few days early. This allowed us time to check out potential snorkel sites (a mission we call “reef recon”), grocery shop for the week, and get settled before students arrive.
So, there’s always anticipation and excitement that builds up in the weeks leading up to a program. Every program is a totally unique experience driven by that specific calendar and group of people coming together, so the anticipation and excitement never fades, no matter how many programs you teach.
Students arrived throughout the day depending on their flight schedules. They were flying in from all over the United States and, indeed, all over the world as one student arrived from Hong Kong! Most of the day was spent shuttling students to and from the airport and greeting them as they arrived at the Aloha Towers Marketplace (Hawaii Pacific University) which is where we will be staying for our shore component. We had a wonderful 2-hour orientation that included not just reviewing policies and calendar for the program but also starting to gel as a class (and eventually crew) as we participated in icebreakers and created community standards for inclusive, accessible learning and living environments. Orientation was followed by a delicious pizza dinner and our first evening community check-in. I am so impressed with this group already and can’t wait to start our adventure studying Hawaiian coral reefs over the next month!
Heather Page, Chief Scientist, SEA