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With the conclusion of the Vancouver portion of the Ocean Bridge program, it’s hard to believe my time with Ocean Bridge is slowly coming to an end. I’ve been reflecting on the newfound direction this experience has given me and the community we’ve built. My reflection of this amazing program will hopefully be a preview of Ocean Bridge 2019 for next year’s cohort.

Da Chen is part of the inaugural 2018 cohort of the Ocean Bridge program.

I first met the 39 strangers of the Ocean Bridge in Haida Gwaii, BC. We were brought together by common passions for the ocean, but knowing little about each other. However, those 10 days together in Haida Gwaii were life-changing, leaving memories and impacts that will last a lifetime.

Five months later, we met again in Vancouver. Much had changed, but much remained the same.

The time in Vancouver was different from Haida Gwaii, but it was just as amazing. It was heartening to see all the different projects come to life —through creating art based on inspiration from across Canada to share ideas and experiences between youth and mentors to creating and designing an ocean theme fashion show.  All these events showcased the awesomeness of my fellow Ocean Bridgers and their amazing talents.

All the moments we spent together — riding bikes to the Vancouver Aquarium, enjoying the sunset by the beach, delivering programs throughout Vancouver —were such a joy! In addition to our time in Vancouver, I also had the privilege of sailing through the Strait of Georgia and visiting and learning on the beautiful Saturna Island. Watching the sunset from the top of the mountain, feeling the ocean on our faces and sleeping in a gymnasium together were such intimate and beautiful experiences.

Spending time with everyone made me realize how much I missed them, and what a privilege it was to meet and be with them. All these amazing minds and this passion for the ocean were missing in my everyday life before Ocean Bridge. I was tired and exhausted and felt directionless, but meeting everyone helped me rediscover my passion and reaffirmed my commitment to the conservation path I have chosen.

I came away with a renewed sense of self and a greater appreciation for the work I do. I came away with a new family and a growing belief in the changes we will make.

Here is a poem dedicated to my friends in Ocean Bridge:

As the clock slowly ticks away,
The moment I dread is coming soon.
Good-bye is the hardest,
When it’s to those I hold dear.
I remember all our smiles,
Laughter and tears we shed.
The feeling we expressed,
The intimacy we shared,
All will forever be with me.
It’s crazy how we got so close, so fast,
And distances didn’t matter in any way.
I came looking for new friends,
But came away with a family instead.
This parting is much harder than the last,
I don’t know when our next gathering will be.
As our time together is counting down,
I deeply cherish the seconds we have.
No matter where you are in the world,
Just know that you are deep in my heart.
I will miss you all dearly,
Always holding on to this memory.
Today is only a brief parting in time,
Because tomorrow we will meet again.

Posted November 16, 2018 by Ocean Wise

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