Laura is one of our ambassadors currently based on Gili T as a PADI course director. Heavily involved in the environmental and cleanup efforts on the islands, she is a passionate advocate for diving and the ocean. Always looking to push herself to learn more and help others to do the same! One of her current focusses is improving standards of professional dive training on the islands, which is so vital. Not only does her work make people safer, but also instills sustainable practices which are vital for our oceans!
If you were an animal what would you be?
I would probably be a bat. Just hanging in there, somewhere in the cave or a tree looking at the world upside down.
What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
Technical Diving! Even though teaching diving is my job, it is still my passion as well.
Therefore in the spare time, I indulge myself in Closed Circuit Rebreather diving going way deeper than I normally do. Only then, being completely silent, without blowing any bubbles I can feel like I truly belong in the ocean. I’m part of the whole eco-system. Sometimes even fish use me as a shelter. I mean how cool is that?!?
What is your first memory / experience of the ocean?
Jumping through the waves with my sister and my granny. I wasn’t born by the ocean, but soon after I moved with my parents to Greece. I still vaguely remember days spent on the beach, the warmth of the sun, and the salty breeze from the sea. Then of course came The Little Mermaid and I wanted to be just like her. I was spending hours in the water pretending I was Ariel literally everywhere I could! Bathtub, swimming pool, lakes, ocean. I totally mastered the part when she throws her hair back holding on to the rock. Top class, I’d say haha!!
How did you get interested in sustainability / eco living and / or the ocean?
I was raised with respect for nature and taking care of the world surrounding us. In old Polish traditions, nature plays a huge role as it used to be the land of farmers. However, once I became a diver, that was the time when I truly realised how important the ocean is to us as creatures living on land. I started to understand that everything we do comes back to the water on our planet. Because I lost my heart for the underwater world and automatically started to care for it more. All the fish, creatures, corals, and what not, became precious to me. It’s hard to fight for something or protect something you don’t understand. That’s why I’m so lucky to be a dive instructor I take a pride in it, because I can show people that there is so much to care for.
What do you find hardest about advocating for the ocean and / or sustainability?
“Fighting with the system” as they say. There are so many people who do all they can, to protect the ocean. Some of them dedicate their lives to it, some just share the ideas of others, then they are those that make teeny-tiny changes in day to day life and that helps as well.
But the problem is the big stakeholders, politicians, huge company’s for whom profit is a major priority.
So there are things I do to advocate for the ocean, like the ocean and land clean-up, reducing the CO2 emission, planting trees, using less plastic, live more sustainably, eat less meat, don’t eat fish, spread awareness amongst my students.
Suddenly you see in the news that somewhere there is an oil or chemical spill destroying the whole ecosystems or hundreds of commercial fishing boats ready to deplete the entire region of fish, like Galapagos this year. And then I’m like, fu**k it, I give up! But the thing is you can’t, you have to stay motivated and believe that what you are doing is making a difference.
What is your favourite place to visit?
Home, cause I don’t spend enough time with my family and Polish food is the best on the planet!
Where do you want to travel next and why?
I would love to go to South Africa and see the underwater megafauna there, sharks and stuff, haha!! Also because it’s going to be challenging. I’m not used to cold water diving at all, so I’ll probably jump in a dry suit and see how that goes.
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
My husband. He is an incredible technical diver and instructor, so passionate about what he does, that whenever I feel down or want to give up I look at him and get the motivation to go further straight away. I’m also very competitive so staying behind is not an option for me.
I like to learn, I easily get inspired by other people and their knowledge. All I try to do is push forward and be a better version of myself than a year before.
What advice would you give someone reading this who wants to start helping the ocean?
Sometimes even the smallest change in your life can make a difference. Don’t get too overwhelmed with what other people are doing, it can be so intimidating sometimes. Find your own way that makes you happy, that allows you to use your skills and your talents to serve the ocean and spread awareness. You don’t have to be a marine biologist, diver, you don’t even have to live next to the ocean to contribute to protecting it.
Any upcoming projects / activities / causes you want to shout out?
I’m working on improving the professional level of dive training. Therefore I’ll be in charge of the Divemaster program at Trawangan Dive Centre. I also finally have time to focus on writing so check out my blogs at divemastergilis.com and if you have any topics or questions you would like to read about just let me know.
It’s quite hard to plan anything currently, but I have a few quite exciting projects coming up so stay tuned and check out my social media @laura_kazi_went_diving