Inspiration from Dolphins and Whales - Jason Cressey, PhD


orn in the UK, Jason grew up in Yorkshire and went on to study at Oxford University, where he gained a PhD in psychology. Shortly afterwards he emigrated to Canada, and now lives on Salt Spring Island - one of the beautiful Gulf Islands located in the Salish Sea between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Jason started travelling before he could talk, thanks to family vacations in Spain's Balearic Islands. At sixteen, he set out on his first independent trip, when he and a schoolfriend visited the sites of First World War battlefields in in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. "That was it!" he recalls. "The travel bug got into my blood and I've had a love for exploring ever since."

During his PhD research Jason lived in the high Canadian Arctic for several months. Here he was able to experience nights in an igloo and dog-sled trips across the tundra. "Seeing the sun shining at two in the morning took some getting used to, as did the daytime high temperature that barely rose above freezing," he says. "I will always admire the strength and resilience of the Inuit people who have lived up there for thousands of years - without them, I don't think I'd have lasted a day."

Impressed by the sense of cultural cohesion and tradition he encountered in the Arctic, Jason grew more curious about indigenous cultures around the world. From Amazonian shamans and Sami elders in northern Finland to Micronesian fishermen and Syrian market-traders, each new culture he has encountered presents a welcome opportunity to learn a little more and challenge his view about 'the way things are'. As Jason says, "Living in the comfortable bubble of North America, it's easy to start believing that everyone enjoys a similar standard of living and has a similar outlook on the world - but it is only by travelling that we can even begin to appreciate a much richer, more varied planet than we ever thought possible."

In the last two decades Jason has travelled to more than eighty countries on all six inhabited continents - and some places have inspired him to make return visits. "It's hard not to pick favourites," he comments, "but Turkey and Syria are very dear to me because of their warm-hearted people. I see that same kindness in the eyes of many people in the remote parts of Southeast Asia, and rarely have I witnessed such joie de vivre than among the Pacific Islanders of Polynesia." His love of travel extended beyond the printed work to launching a weekly radio show - 'Off The Beaten Track' - on local radio station CFSI 107.9 in Spring 2010, which has quickly become an audience favourite.

There remain many places that Jason intends to visit: "Greenland, Central Asia, Iran, Antarctica and Pitcairn Island are currently at the top of my list," he comments. And after that? "There will be other places, and perhaps even spots I once visited that have changed dramatically and can now be seen through fresh eyes. The world will never run out of fascinating destinations, nor wonderful people who call those places home. Even the most mundane locations can be the highlight of a trip when the magic of travel reveals a friendly smile, a simple but sumptuous meal or a chance meeting that you never forget... and, of course, the real fun is often the process of getting there in the first place." - from

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