SINGAPORE- An event looked forward to by most divers around the world, the Adex Ocean19 Festival held at Suntec Centre Singapore attracted lots of attention. Held from April 11 to 14, this event was a real treat for those interested to find great places to dive, purchase diving equipment and listen to talks by experienced diving panelists, including members of the 2018 cave diving rescue mission in Thailand.
The whole place buzzed with liveliness as like-minded people gathered together, crowding different booths. Excited faces could be seen everywhere as valuable information was being shared by experienced divers, many of whom are technical divers and photographers as well.
There were a few highlights which made the event worthwhile. One of them was a panel discussion where many experienced female divers shared their diving experiences and some of the issues such as sexism in the industry, as well as how to deal with this.
Hailing from around the world, they’ve sustained their diving practice due to their love for the ocean and the amazing sights they experience from being underwater.
A diver from Hong Kong shared that being in the ocean helps her to relax and is like a second home. Another diver shared that the ocean helps in the healing process.
For some of the divers, one of the struggles is definitely having a work-life balance. It’s not easy to balance work and diving, while having to take care of their children. One particular diver, Amanda, shared that it’s important to know what one’s priorities are and allocate adequate time to each. Another issue would be the physical capability of females to cope with heavy equipment that is often double their weight.
A major issue discussed was bias towards females in the diving industry, which is seen as a male-dominated one.
A Canadian diver shared that it was not uncommon for her to be doubted by male counterparts due to her small build.
A diver and a writer, she shared some common “unintentional biases” and sexism in the industry. She hopes that one day, there will be no need to hold a “female panel” to discuss about these issue and females will just be addressed collectively as “photographers”, “divers” et cetera.
Another thing would be the mindset of more conservative societies. A Taiwanese diver is actually the host of a TV show that requires her to dive.
For her parents, this may be difficult to take in as they always think that the sea is dangerous, especially during the “ghost month” (which is the seventh month of the lunar year when Chinese believe ghosts are temporarily released from where they’re kept) or the typhoon period.
Fortunately, her TV show is quite a life-changer as it alters the perception of many Taiwanese towards diving and many of them have become more motivated to take up diving.
It is hoped that unintentional bias in this industry will day end and that more people can be interested in sports.
Aside from the discussion panel, divers who were involved in the 2018 life-saving cave mission were also invited to give a talk about their experiences.
For many of these diving heroes, the mission was unforgettable and for the audience, it was inspiring and thought-provoking to hear their experience. The divers shared the stories behind their decision to go on the rescue mission as well as difficulties faced in the process.
A Singaporean diver shared that risks and possible loss of life was inevitable, but he firmly decided to go after consulting his family members, who reassured him that the mission was worth the risk.
Another diver from Belgium shared that he had to change his flight at the last minute as he had planned to go to the Philippines with his wife before he heard of the incident. His wife had no second thoughts and gave him her full support throughout the mission.
In general, a sense of pride was reflected on the divers’ faces as they recalled the rescue mission, which was the collective effort of many people from different countries./ TISG