Thank You, San Pedro

I must be honest; I haven't been looking forward to writing this article. I knew the day of composing my final Reef Brief was quickly approaching, but I simply chose not to think about it. But now the time has come and, after reflecting upon my experience in San Pedro, I realize what a gift these two years have truly been.

Throughout the past two years living and working as a Peace Corps volunteer in San Pedro, the community has been incredibly warm and gracious in opening themselves up to me. I have always thought that the town I grew up in California was close-knit, but after a few days here, I realized that San Pedro would teach me a thing or two about what it truly means to be a community. I will genuinely miss walking down the street every day recognizing, acknowledging and greeting so many different faces. And I will forever treasure the daily interactions and conversations I have had with community members_meetings that often led to fascinating discussions about people, morals and politics.

Reef Brief is a weekly column published in the San Pedro Sun
This leads me to my experiences working with Green Reef. The people of San Pedro have continued to impress me with their dedication and support of this struggling organization. Because Green Reef faced times of limited resources, I have often had to seek assistance from local organizations and was never turned down. Moreover, when it came to fund-raisers like the Reef Festival, the community was unwavering in their commitment to Green Reef and our mission of increasing environmental awareness. I quickly learned that by and large the community of San Pedro is passionate and educated about conserving their precious and delicate resources. Achieving a balance between environmental conservation and development is an ongoing and recurring effort, but I am encouraged by San Pedro's commitment to resolving it. At the same time, working with a conservation organization has taught me a valuable lesson: that environmental issues are never black and white and that there are always two sides to every story. This discovery will help me keep a perspective during my next challenge_working towards a Master's Degree in Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

I must take this opportunity to thank some of those who have made my experience so rich and positive. Most importantly, Mito and Catherine Paz, who have taught me what it truly means to be committed to a cause such as Green Reef. Other people and organizations that need to be recognized include the Green Reef Board of Directors, Dan, Eileen, and Felix of The San Pedro Sun, the San Pedro Town Council, all the guys at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, Amigos del Mar, Seaduced Tours, Coral Beach Dive Shop, Aquarius Dive Shop, Susana and Norman Eiley, Fiona Elliott, Eddie Halliday and many, many more.

Thank you, San Pedro. I will miss this town and its people in more ways than I can mention.

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