An Opportunity Arises

The following is the beginning of a multi-part series to run over the next few months. Melissa Baffa, Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM for GSCCC, will be joining the Corps of Exploration this year on the adventure of a lifetime. This blog series will chronicle her dive into the Unknown.

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Do you remember the first time you went to an amusement park? Do you recall that itchy, squirmy feeling as you anticipated the adventure, the way you struggled to fall asleep the night before your trip? I know this feeling well – I have lived in various states of it since January of this year, and it’s getting worse.

It started in December, when an email hit my inbox. Forwarded from our CEO to my supervisor to me, it outlined an exciting marine education program. The paragraph on internships had caught her eye, but when I read it more carefully, I realized the internship didn’t relate to the program she was interested in. I told her as much and asked, “What do you think about me applying for the fellowship described here?” The craziest part was, the deadline was in two days, and the following day was her last before the holidays, when she would go out on PTO. So if I was going to pursue this, it had to be NOW.

Thankfully, our senior leadership at Girl Scouts was enthusiastically on board. An intense period of wrangling application materials, including letters of recommendation, ensued, and once I had everything together, I paused, held my breath, and hit Send.

The thing I was applying for, truth be told, was more than a little scary. I would be serving in a communications capacity for the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) as a part of the 2015 expedition aboard the E/V Nautilus. My stint aboard the ship could be anywhere from 1-3 weeks. I would be away from my family, with potentially thousands of miles between us. The ship would be exploring the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean. 
Scientists around the world had submitted suggestions for exploration sites, called “white papers,” in which they made their pitch for the sites they thought the Nautilus should explore. The possibilities dazzled me – bioluminescence, shipwrecks, undersea volcanoes, and hydrothermal vents! As a scientist and a former teacher, the possibilities got my heart thumping. These are the same stories I used to weave in my classroom, the same phenomena that inspired open-mouthed wonder in my students…could I really be so fortunate to be selected?

I would need to wait a few weeks to hear back from the OET. In the meantime, the holidays were a happy distraction. The application was in, and all I could do now was to wait.

Now It’s Your Turn: Have you applied for something, or tried something new that was scary for you? What was it? What did you get out of the experience? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

Skip to the next blog post by Melissa: Nervous Anticipation

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