Today I was Junior Watch Officer (JWO) for my morning watch, from 0700 to 1300, and it was definitely the highlight of my experience so far! Something I have always noticed but became even more evident during this cruise is that it is difficult for me to believe in myself. I went to bed yesterday feeling very anxious and scared of being in such an important and challenging position. I was sure I would only make mistakes and it would be a terrible day. The truth is I did make many mistakes, but I got many things right too. It was so rewarding to realize I was able to coordinate my watch, sail handle to make the boat go two knots after stopping for a science deployment, while also doing boat checks and getting weather information at the top of each hour.
My JWO experience was overwhelming, but I had the support of my amazing watch. Being one of the only two international students in this boat and coming from a very different background from other students, I had a difficult adaptation. I did not think I would connect with the other people in my watch, but I was wrong. Yesterday as I was constantly doubting myself, my watch mates were there to give me support and reassurance. It has been great to see how much I have learned about working with others, trusting the people around me and believing in myself.
Besides having watch and being JWO, we had a Nautical Science assignment and Conservation and Management class in the afternoon. We are currently working on writing a paper about approaches to future marine plastics research and policy making. I decided to focus on my home country, Brazil, and use the issue of marine plastics in Rio de Janeiro as my main example. As I am very interested in activism and politics, writing this essay has been a fun task.
Surprisingly, I have also enjoyed the science deployments, and learning more about plastics and the various organisms we have encountered.
Another fact I would like to share is that I don’t know how to swim. Still, when the “pool doors” were opened 4 days ago, I put on a life jacket and went “swimming” with everyone else. I only stayed in the water for about 5 minutes, and I was very close to the stairs attached to the boat. But I went swimming in the North Pacific Ocean!
Now a short message to my family in Portuguese:
Familia, estou bem e viva! Essa e com certeza uma das melhores experiencias da minha vida. Penso em voces todos e os dias e oro para que tudo esteja bem! Obrigada por sempre me apoiarem e acreditarem mim! Amo voces! So mais 6 dias!
Amanda Nogueira Moreira de Souza, C watch, Macalester College