By Axel Anderegg-Durwood
Over the course of my time in the Professional Diving program, my team and I have made many journeys to a variety of locations. In January of sophomore year, we were even fortunate enough to travel to the Island School in the Bahamas for a week-long dive expedition to complete our Advanced Open Water certifications as well as our Fish Identification Specialty Diver certifications. The memorable trip for my junior year, on the other hand, easily goes to the Fishers Island trip: a journey to Fishers Island Oyster Farm in which we were accompanied by sophomores and juniors alike from other CTE programs including Vessel Operations and Ocean Engineering.
During the trip, we executed a large scale operation with the goal of recovering fallen oyster cages from one of the farm’s grow out sites. Ocean Engineering students deployed ROVs at the oyster nursery while Vessel Operations students transported the divers to and from the grow out site, at which the divers managed to retrieve numerous oyster cages as well as an abundance of stray oysters from the bottom. The students worked in perfect harmony, and much was accomplished as a result of the flawless teamwork.
On our last night at the island, we organized a celebratory cookout on the beach. In addition to being quite the feast, this cookout also served as a time of reflection. At the conclusion of the cookout, the entire group sat in a circle around a fire. Each individual in the circle then took turns sharing their respective “roses” and “thorns,” or highs and lows, for the trip. When the rotation fell to me, I declared that the trip as a whole was a rose for me for two main reasons. For one, accomplishing tasks beneath the surface provided me with overwhelming sensations of satisfaction and pride similar to those that I experience at my current job for the Billion Oyster Project, despite the fact that not a single student was paid a single penny at Fishers Island. Regardless, I was able to do what I love, and in doing so I aided a larger cause. That was all I needed in order to feel I had accomplished something great. The second reason I listed was that the trip had left me with a glimpse into my future of working alongside my peers from other CTEs for a cause very near and dear to the heart of every Harbor School student: the Billion Oyster Project. Both on and off the water, we were one unit. We ate together, we played games together, we laughed together, and we worked hard together. This led to the formation of remarkably strong bonds and the further solidification of existing ones amongst the entirety of the student body on the trip. I was fortunate enough to experience an early development of my understanding of how all seven CTE programs work in collaboration to assist the BOP in achieving its goals. I continue to feel unsubdued excitement to further my participation and involvement in the BOP, and all largely in thanks to our trip to Fishers Island.