April 5, 2016 | West Now Home
Article & photos by Doug Gulleson, two-time Western International University (West) graduate and current West student.
The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University (West). This article originally appeared in the West Alumni Connection newsletter.
Have you ever scuba dived? If not, you sure are missing out. You are not just missing the diving part of diving, but all that is part of the scuba diving experience. Go back in time about six months before you put on your wet suit, and that is when the diving journey really begins.
You may have poked your head into a local dive shop to see what trips they have, or you saw a dive magazine at your doctor’s office with a picture of divers on a remote island that piqued your interest. Let’s not forget the National Geographic and Travel Channels that whisked you away to those white sandy beaches for an hour, right from your own living room. Yes, the diving adventure starts there. You start sharing your excitement with friends, waiters, and waitresses and pretty soon you can’t wait for the moment you stand in the TSA line at the airport ready to board your plane to start your diving holiday. You are amazed how total strangers become instant friends when you start sharing about your diving trip. Scuba diving is a great way to break the ice with anyone, even those serious-looking immigration officers at the airport.
Diving is more than seeing the beautiful types of coral and species of fish underneath the blue oceans. It is a journey, a journey that start way before your fins connect with the salty waters of the ocean. Why is that? I think because we humans love to travel and experience new things. Diving forces us to do that, especially here in landlocked Arizona. I would have never gone to the Solomon Islands for a 10-day dive on a live-aboard, a dive boat made just for scuba divers, or walked the pristine beaches of Wakatobi. Scuba diving sure has opened my passport pages to many countries’ entrance stamps, and for that I am so grateful.
But it is more than going to different lands. It is about people! A phrase I learned a while ago in a weeklong scuba class here in Arizona is that “people are the destination!” Isn’t that awesome! It is all about people! It is about us! Not only are we divers talking to complete strangers about an exciting adventure, but we are also meeting amazing people on our scuba diving journey. I am so blessed to meet other scuba divers around the world who have a wealth of knowledge to share. Their stories and their adventures allow me to plan for my next dive trips, as well as see how others live in this wonderful world of ours.
Not only do you meet other divers, but also top-notch dive masters and underwater photographers in their own right. I am a novice underwater photographer, and that has opened a whole new world of divers and places to dive than ever before. I have been able to tag along on some dive trips with professional underwater photographers Andy & Allison. I’ve gained so much knowledge from them on underwater photography, and they have been great friends to boot. Steve is another superb friend and amazing underwater photographer I met on one of my Bahama shark dives a few years ago. Steve is a retired attorney. He and his wife are living his dream of sharing his underwater knowledge by writing e-books about superior diving spots throughout the world.
Oh, I am not done about people you meet on your dive trips—by far, the most thrilling part of the ‘above water’ part of the dive trip is learning about new cultures. I have been to many parts of the Caribbean, throughout Indonesia, The Great Barrier Reef, and other parts of Southeast Asia and have been enriched by each of those cultures. Don’t even get me started about the mouthwatering cuisine my taste buds have deliciously experienced. I was born and raised in Indonesia, so my stomach is at home with rice and noodles any day. Add a heavy dose of sambal, and you have me in heaven!
Splash! Here we go underneath the blue oceans with our right hand holding our underwater camera and our left hand holding our digital dive computer, making sure we descend just right. Your eyes are bombarded with fish darting left and right as you swim comfortably right above, making sure you don’t touch them, and wide coral fans in shades of orange and red. After about 40-60 minutes on this dive, you have used all your camera battery life and are ready to hop out of the water to see all the breathtaking pictures and videos you took. Now imagine doing this 20-30 times on a dive journey, and you can see those perfect dive pictures you share with friends, family, and for sure strangers you meet on your life’s journey.
All this talk about scuba diving has made me grab my passport and get my dive gear ready for my next amazing diving adventure. I am headed again to one of my most favorite places in the world, Bali. Bali is one of the amazing islands of Indonesia, and I visit there at least twice a year.
Thank you for allowing me to share my diving experiences with you! I hope this has made you hungry to put on some fins and a diving mask and see the wonder of this amazing creation we call home. Even if not for the diving, for sure to experience and learn about different cultures throughout the world in which we live.
Doug Gulleson, MBA, RHU is Vice President and co-owner of Good Neighbor Insurance, Inc. in Gilbert, AZ. He earned both his BS in Management and MBA in International Business at Western International University.* A lifelong learner, Doug is also a current West student taking advantage of our alumni re-enrollment offer (see below) to pursue a Master of Arts in Human Dynamics.* Doug was born and raised in Indonesia, graduated from the Jakarta International School, and settled in Arizona after serving in the U.S. Army. He also serves on the board of directors for an overseas non-profit. Images were provided by Doug; visit douggulleson.com to read all about Doug and his adventures and view more amazing photos.
* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs
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