Tag Archives: Life choices

Petitions: do they really work and how?

By Angelina Cecchetto on 7th April 2013

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

The straight answer to this question is yes, petitions do work!

Successful petitions put pressure on corporations, governments and other local authorities.

How? By helping information circulate in an unbiased way, petitions keep people informed of what is going on and help spread the word on particular aspects of information that may not be covered by the mainstream medias. The great thing about petitions and particularly about online petitioning or e-petitioning is that it makes it very easy for people to do something about a cause they may have at heart to defend and to force groups or institutions who may not want to hear to actually listen to people’s opinion.

How does the petition process work exactly? To create an e-petition it’s very simple; you can go on different online petition websites such as www.avaaz.org , www.care2.com , www.change.org  and many others. Should you want to find a petition site in your country, you just need to search for the petition in your own language in Google and you find many in your own language or related to your country. Before creating a petition, make sure that there is not one already existing which defends the same cause.

Some people think that signing e-petitions will not make any difference in the great scheme of things, well, they are simply wrong and I am going to give you some examples showing that in a couple of clicks and less than a minute people can make a positive difference in society. Of course, I am not talking about “all heroic happy-ending” unrealistic scenarios like “petitions-will-save-the-world” type of scenarios, I am saying that thanks to e-petitions, people can easily gather as a powerful group of individuals whose voices and opinions cannot be ignored by institutions.

In the UK for instance, when an e-petition reaches 100 000 signatures, the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee receives a notification from the Leader of the House of Commons (Parliament) about the petition which is then taken into consideration and discussed during the weekly hearing of MPs representations. MP’s have to make the case for the e-petition consideration.

Here are a few examples of successful outcomes thanks to e-petitions:

In December last year, thanks to a WWF[1] “I Will If You Will” campaign for Earth Hour 2012 which gathered the voices of 120,000 Russians and presented it to the government, the Russian Parliament voted a long-awaited law to protect the country’s seas from oil pollution.

On March 8th 2013 the California Coastal Commission (CCC)[2] who heard people’s outcry and petitions voted unanimously to reject the US Navy’s request to maintain military testing, sonar and bomb deployments throughout Southern California, Hawaii, Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast. Many dolphins and whales have been killed already but should the CCC have approved the maintenance of the Navy’s project, millions of cetaceans would have been killed in the next 5 years so this is a prime example of how efficient petitioning helped towards life preservation of numerable cetaceans.

In his very comprehensive article “Slacktivism: Why Snopes got it Wrong About Internet Petitions”[3] Randy Paynter gives a few good examples of how petitions can make a positive difference like the striking story of independent journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who were imprisoned in North Korea, charged with grave crimes against the state, and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. As Randy Paynter relates, “Their friends and family created petitions on “Care2” to raise awareness and call on North Korea to free the women. Close to 90,000 people signed these petitions, helping to keep the story in the national spotlight for months and eventually former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea and negotiated Laura and Euna’s release”.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/slacktivism-why-snopes-got-it-wrong-about-internet-petitions.html#ixzz2PagpvGwg

I personally sign about 2 to 3 petitions a day on average because this is a great way to help causes and raise awareness about things that are happening in the world and that people may not know about, because people don’t necessarily have the time to get informed or simply because some issues receive very low mainstream media coverage. So, if like me, you care about justice and want to get involved, then, think about petitioning as a first easy step to make a positive difference!

To conclude, I will cite Margaret Mead’s famous words:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I will finish with a petition working towards Nature and Ocean Conservation which mainly pleads to ban non-biodegradable packaging for food which would help reducing the dramatic impact of plastic on nature and a whole array of animals and especially aquatic life:

http://signon.org/sign/ban-non-biodegradable.fb23?source=c.fb&r_by=1333790

Many thanks.

Angelina Cecchetto

 

How to become a Scuba Dive Instructor?

By Angelina Cecchetto on 26th February 2013

How to become a dive instructor

 

Many of my friends have asked me how to become a scuba dive Instructor and although I am by no means the ultimate specialist I can share some tips on how to become a scuba dive Instructor, keeping in mind that things can change very quickly in the diving industry.

First of all I would say that there are several schools, companies or organizations to go with for those interested in becoming dive instructors. The two main organizations are PADI[1] or Professional Association of Dive Instructors[2] founded in the late 1960’s and SSI[3] or Scuba School International[4] founded in 1970. Both are international companies and are therefore found and recognized worldwide.

To reach instructor level you have to do a certain amount of certifications. With PADI this is more or less the fastest path to become an instructor:

  1. Open Water Diver Certification: 4 logged dives
  2. Advanced Open Water (AOW) Certification. Before doing the AOW you  normally have to have 20 logged dives recorded in your log book
  3. Rescue Diver Certification
  4. EFR Certification
  5. Dive Master (DM) Certification (1st PADI Professional certification). Before doing the DM you normally have to have 40 logged dives recorded in your log book and at the end 60
  6. IDC (Instructor Development) Course. Before enrolling onto the IE (Instructor Examination) you normally have to have a minimum of 100 logged dives.

With SSI this is more or less the fastest way to become an instructor:

  1. Open Water Diver, Level 1: 5 logged dives
  2. Level 2: 12 logged dives
  3. Level 3: 24 logged dives
  4. Level 4: 50 logged dives
  5. Level 5: Dive Guide Certification (1st SSI Professional certification): 50 logged dives
  6. Level 6: Dive Master: 50 logged dives
  7. Dive Control Specialist
  8. Open Water Instructor. You need a minimum of 75 logged dives before and 100 logged dives at the end of the course.

If you are starting from scratch you can in theory become an Instructor in more or less 6/7 months, at least with PADI. I personally recommend gaining some experience as a Dive Guide or Dive Master before enrolling into the Instructor course for 2 main reasons. First to get some experience and knowledge of the dive industry and its people, in particular with the people managing or owning dive shops or dive centers. The second big reason is money. Get some experience first to see if you really want to invest another 2500/3000$ average in course cost and fees. If money is not an issue then go for it!

Many IDC centers offer package prices that cater for all the different entry levels from non-divers to all the certified levels. You can check them online by looking for “IDC centers”. I would say that if you start from scratch it will cost you roughly 5000 to 6000$ in courses and fees. Then you have to take into account the fact that during the few months that you are doing the courses and dives you have to feed and lodge yourself very often at your own cost. So be generous when you prepare your budget! You can actually choose the countries where you decide to do your course accordingly to the languages and/or resources you have to invest. The 2 cheapest countries in the world for courses costs are Honduras (Utila) and Thailand.

Before enrolling onto an IDC course, not only you will need a certain amount of dives but also your complete set of diving equipment and this amounts to an average of about 2000$ depending on the brands and conditions of the gear you go for.

As far as salary is concerned once you are a DM or an OSWI, it depends hugely on the country in which you work and even the dive center you work for. There are no strict regulations worldwide as to how much a dive pro should earn so it is down to each individual to negotiate their contract and salary when they can. What I can say is that you don’t become a dive instructor to make big money!

Now there are ways to cut down the costs of the courses. There are many dive shops who will train you as a DM for free in counterpart of you working for them for a pre-arranged period of time. If you think of this option beware as some employer will try to squeeze you like a lemon and treat you like a “glorified slave”. Once again there are no regulations there so it’s up to each individual to negotiate terms. One thing that I have noticed is that it can be a bit more challenging to find jobs as a DM in some tropical countries as generally they tend to employ locals as DM.

To summarize I would say that there are as many positive sides as there are negatives to become a dive instructor. It’s a great job but it can be quite a precarious one, very often you don’t get a written contract of employment; you get paid in US dollars, when you are sick or when the port is closed due to bad weather for instance, you don’t get paid either. This being said you can get written contracts and a base salary but this is mainly in more structured or bigger dive shop chains.

I hope this answers a few questions and helps some of you to make the right decisions for yourselves. If you have other questions, please feel free to post them!

Angelina Cecchetto

Nature vs “Civilization”, do we have to choose?

By Angelina Cecchetto on 30th January 2013

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto All Rights Reserved.

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

Nature versus culture or “civilization” could be a philosophical topic for many philosophy students. For me it is a question that sits at the core of my life decisions, choices and directions. Some people may call this dichotomy or life dilemma. I call it simply having options.

When I made some 360 degrees life and career changes going from capital city life to natural heavens the people closest to me at the time thought I was mad because this implied major salary cuts. It so happened that a few years later I happened to have tripled the salary I had prior to change, so somehow something about the “crazy” life and career changes I had done was right.

We all have the choice to live different lives and in different countries but many people are scared of the unknown and because of this they keep living a life that doesn’t necessarily fulfill their needs. They keep living it for the sake of what I would call “fitting expectations” may these expectations be family, economically or socially based. From what I have seen, generally people who do that end up banging their heads against the walls sooner or later.

I truly believe that change can make us better and more adaptable so people shouldn’t be scared by complete changeovers. The important is to believe in yourself, do what is most important for you and think outside the “mainstream box” that society tries to mold us into.

Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do from a young age but for all the others I would say that if you are lucky enough to be “gifted” for several things, then go ahead and try them all out and eventually you will find what you are really made for. It is never too late to give a chance to a passion. This may require drastic changes from city life to nature life and a few “adjustments” but I believe this transition is achievable by most of us. The important is finding a healthy life balance and being in phase with what we like to do or what we are passionate about. Follow your dreams! If you slightly went “off-pist” doing so, well I am sure you would have learned some very good life lessons in the process. Don’t be afraid of getting lost, as you may well find that it is by getting lost that you find your way.

Angelina Cecchetto.