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July 2017

GVI Mexico

GVI Mexico Marine Awareness

Burgess Hill Girls School 2017

To immerse participants in Mexicos underwater environment and learning about vital marine
conservation issues while earning their PADI Open Water certification, learning strategy that
integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning

Figure 1 Participants at the top of the Mayan ruins of Coba

The Marine Awareness Programme ran from the 15th to the 27th of July, with 10 participants
(8 students and 2 teachers) from the Burgess Hills Girls School that joined a twelve-day adventure
where they got their PADI Open Water certification and learned more about marine conservation. It
was an amazing summer for the first official GVI Service Learning group in Playa del Carmen, Mexico,
they made a positive impact with the community and the environment they worked in.

On Saturday, July 15th the participants were welcomed at the airport and were provided with the
Health and Safety training and documentation to start adventure safely.

The participants completed their PADI Open Water Diver course during the first days. The dive training
was done in collaboration with a local dive shop called Manatus, who was in charge of the dive training

for our Under 18s group in 2016. The OW course was spread over 5 days which included theory
sessions, knowledge reviews, confined water training in a pool, and 4 open water dives.

Figure 2 Participants during their PADI OW Course

The participants were also in charge of helping out with some duties such as cooking. With the staff
providing guidance, they prepared meals using some local ingredients and managed to make some
Mexican dishes. To try out authentic Mexican food they also visited a few local restaurants.

To immerse them in the marine conservation world, they received several workshops on coral reef
ecology and threats, plastic pollution and the importance of beach cleans, coral ID, Coral Watch
surveys, sea turtle monitoring and fish ID.

Figure 3 Participants learning about turtle nesting and methodologies to register nests.

As part of the activities, the group had the opportunity to help out painting the walls of a local park
called La Ceiba, this park is visited by over 9,500 residents of Playa del Carmen and has a great program
to promote sustainable development and environmental education activities. The park is run by an
organization called Flora, Fauna y Cultura de Mexico, who also run a marine turtle conservation
program in the region. The students participated patrolling one night looking for nesting females,
measuring them and relocating nests, this program has released over 8,399,426 baby turtles.

Marine debris is a big problem in the world, and to contribute towards the Ocean Conservancy beach
clean-up campaign, the students participated on a beach clean in a local beach, where they collected
about 40kg of rubbish in only 500 meters of beach for an hour!

To finalize the activities, they visited Akumal Ecological Center to learn about the coral restoration
project they are running, where they visited the coral nurseries they are looking after in order to
restore local reefs.

It was an intensive training that ended up with a side trip to the majestic Mayan Ruins of Coba, where
the students learned more about Mayan culture, followed with refreshing swim at an underground
cenote, and a visit to a Mayan village.

Thanks to the Burgess Hill Girls School participants for all their hard work during their time here and
to our awesome staff team for running this successful trip.

If you want to know more about the Service Learning program in Mexico check out:

You can also check out our Facebook page to see more photos and this year video.