My personal odyssey through the Lower Antilles
By: Brendan Szulik, high school alumnus High School Adventures, Scuba, Sailing
I spent 17 days on the Verone on the trip to the Lower Antilles. Throughout my personal odyssey, I explored the underwater world, islands of St. Bart’s and Nevis, and the depths of my own being. I met seven other students, one intern, and two staff members who will forever have an impact on my life.
I came to Broadreach to go diving; this was my main reason for going on the trip. I came back having gone diving, successfully passing my American Sailing Association test, making friends, and learning how to deal with other people such as through being a leader. What you get on the trip is tons more than what you signed up for.
Since I am such a dive fanatic, I will first describe the dives. I logged 17 dives, each of which I can vividly remember; I can still see the drop off of a 60 foot wall of coral, the massive hull of the Charlie Brown, and the multiple crabs that my instructor scared me with on our night dives. I never realized when I got my dive license that I would be exposed to a world where the water glows when you move at night, where I would rather go diving for 30 minutes instead of spending a day at Yellowstone park, or where I can take time out to recognize that the world is bigger than just myself.
That is what I really learned on my trip: how big the world really is. I met other kids from California, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. who all had taken the risk of going to a foreign country to spend three weeks with ten people they had never met. I saw how they viewed the world in the same ways, the different ways, and how we can all come together to create a successful environment. I learned how to be unselfish, helping others before I helped myself, and how if we worked together everything we did would move more quickly. The group is more important than the whole, and my group and I sacrificed our time, effort, and emotions to prove this.
Broadreach really made me mature, and fast. I had to deal with growing up and living with other people or else I would have had a bad time. But I, like my boat-mates, survived and prospered from this journey. We fought off sunburns and rain, the smell of food in the fridge and broken dinghies, and as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; we sure got a lot stronger.
If I ever get the chance to do this trip again, I would grab at the opportunity. Everything has its down moments, but I have forgotten them all since all the cool things I did like racing our boats and tubing. Just being able to sit on a boat on the ocean at night, with a nice breeze flapping over your face, looking out at the lights of some small volcanic island, it relaxes you. You really get a chance to take a step back from life and see your old problems and stresses from a distance, getting a chance to think them through and not have to worry about them at the same time.