Sydney Harned - 2014 Program Participant

Volunteers during a lecture in New Heaven Dive Shop

The group receiving a lecture on fish biology at the New Heaven dive shop. You can’t tell in the picture, but this room has a gorgeous view of the ocean behind.

The Caribbean Broadreach program was your fourth Broadreach program, what prompted you get PADI divemaster certified after your experience with scuba on the Thailand program?

I’d always had a hunch that I wanted to go on to get my Divemaster certification, and after diving the past two summers with broadreach I knew that Scuba was something I was passionate about and wanted to incorporate into my career. I chose the Divemaster Internship program over other Divemaster programs because the internship portion gives you the chance to work with real open water students and deal with real situations underwater. 

What makes Broadreach's programs so unique that you participated again and again? 

To me, Broadreach is unlike any other travel abroad agency for a lot of reasons. There aren’t many marine science travel abroad programs for high schoolers that offer such amazing, hands on experiences. Because of Broadreach, I came into college with an idea of what working in the field was like.

I also love how small the groups are. Living and travelling together makes the group tight-knit, and by the end of the trip you’ve made a new family. Plus, all the amazing activities we get to experience, such as kayaking and playing in waterfalls, visiting Buddhist temples, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins, just to name a few, are experiences you can’t get anywhere else. After my first Broadreach trip, I couldn’t imagine a summer without Broadreach. 

Preparing for Diving on the beach in Sydney, Australia

The three others interns and Sydney geared up and ready to dive. 

What was involved in a typical day working toward your PADI Divemaster certification? 

For the first ten days, we were staying on the support boat while we worked on the certification. So, usually we’d wake up around 8 a.m., grab a bowl of cereal, then hop in the water for a dive. The dive would be something along the lines of practicing “demonstration quality” scuba skills, or helping open water students with the Confined Open Water portion of their certification. Afterwards, we’d have free time to lay in the sun, swim, tan, read, snorkel, and eat lunch. Afternoons were for studying, reviewing, and preparing for the divemaster exam. We usually went to sleep pretty early, but sometimes we’d have just enough energy to sneak in a night dive, which is a mind-blowing experience.

What was your favorite part about The Leeward Islands?

I think my favorite part of travelling through the Leeward Islands was the time we spent in Saba. Saba has been a marine park since the 1980s, so the reefs are pristine. On our first dive there we saw our first shark of the trip (a Blacktip Reef Shark that I spotted!), and we got to explore one of the most beautiful and healthy reefs I’ve ever seen. Saba was a testimony to how clean and healthy all coral reefs can be if we start working hard to protect and restore them. It’s some of the best diving I’ve experienced, and I definitely recommend visiting!

What set your experience in the Caribbean apart from your other three Broadreach programs?

On my past three programs I was a student, so my itinerary was already planned for me and I never really saw the work that went into it. As a Divemaster Intern, I got to work closely with trip leaders, which helped me understand just how much effort everyone at Broadreach puts into giving students unique and incredible experiences. Although my internship trip was more work and less play, I gained so much respect for the people who make the trips possible, and I gained important leadership skills that will help me both in scuba diving and in everyday life. I think this trip was the most valuable for me. 

Students on a boat in Sydney, Australia

Sydney and her group having a meal on our boat Eowyn, the best boat in the fleet!

What's one thing you wish you could have done differently while in the Leeward Islands? 

I wish I could’ve had more time there! After meeting all the staff and working with them on a personal level, I was so sad to leave. I was ready to stay and keep interning for another session!

If you could go on a fifth Broadreach program, which one would you choose? 

This is a tough question, because I wish I could do every trip! I think if I had to choose, I’d want to go on the Yap and Palau Advanced Scuba Trip. Snorkelling in jellyfish lake, diving with manta rays, and a homestay?! sign me up!

How have your various experiences abroad with Broadreach impacted your life? 

My Broadreach trips have changed my life in ways I could never imagine. Living and studying abroad helped me gain confidence, determination, and independence. I don’t know if I’d be the same person I am now if I hadn’t experienced Broadreach, and I may not have found my calling to help conserve the ocean.