When I tell people that I took a group of students to do underwater photography in Belize, the first question is often, ‘Did anyone get eaten by a shark?’ The funny part is that the questioner is typically only half joking—they really want to know if everyone survived.
Establishing a SCUBA program and going on our trip to Belize this March has been one of the highlights of my teaching career. Over the past school year, I have worked with a local dive agency to certify two groups of students as Open Water divers, which allows them to dive recreationally around the world.
My students’ and my interest in underwater photography and diving led us to investigate species identification, marine ecosystems, maritime law, gas exchange laws, nutrition and personal fitness, and underwater photography techniques involving color and lighting. And of course, we needed to raise significant funds for the trip, which involved letter writing, grant writing, community service, and detailed record keeping with digital spreadsheets. Yet this list of ‘topics covered’ captures only a fragment of the experience. The learning became real when students took their first breath underwater and came face to face with a sea turtle, or slowed down to discover tiny creatures in the coral. The photographs here—taken by HTHMA students and me—are the result of these moments.