A scuba diving story from Dubai

Working as a PADI Dive Instructor in Dubai

Nick completed his PADI Dive Instructor trianing in Sri Lanka with Dive-Careers.com then returned to work weekends as a dive instructor in Dubai, maintaining a real job during the weekdays.  Now plans are full in motion to make teaching diving his full time career.  

Sri Lanka IDC
Nick Hawkins looking towards a future as a dive instructor

Okay, I  passed my PADI OWSI in April 2017. Now what? I still have my current job in Dubai and my contract has me tied in for another 10 months. Do I wait? How will that gap look to future employers once I take the plunge (couldn’t resist) into the dive industry?

These are probably questions everyone that completes their IE asks himself or herself. I made a simple choice, get working now. But how? Where?

Sri lanka IDC
Nick the sailor questioning his decision about becoming a dive instructor

It took 10 minutes to google several dive centers in the UAE and obtain their email addresses. A quick look at their webpages and some social media stalking and I got a feel for each one of them and their main customer type. I was after a high volume of students not just recreational divers.

Next step, I emailed the ones I thought suitable, introducing myself and what I could offer in terms of freelancing for them. I also inquired about their policy when it came to me bringing students that I sourced myself to their center; mainly, how much of a cut of the course fee they would take.

Most replied within 24 hours.

The next step, go and visit each manager and simply have a chat. Nothing too specific just an opportunity to meet and greet.

Sri lanka IDC
Nick learning to control Nuwan and his hair

So, here I am, a bit over a month from completing my IE and I have certified 2 Advanced Open Water students, 2 Open Water students, 2 Junior Open Water students,  conducted 5 DSDs and have 3 students currently under training. All this while still working my regular desk job.

My message to new instructors is BE ACTIVE.  In the yacht industry “dock walking” with CVs is common practice. I see no reason why, if you’re in a popular dive location, this approach shouldn’t be your first action.

Happy hunting and remember why you did your IE.

Nick Hawkins

P.S. I will be available from the end of this year for anyone looking to hire a fulltime (phenomenal) OWSI with full commercial skipper license

Sri lanka IDC
Nick helping Justine out of the water on their Sri Lanka IDC

If you are interested in getting into diving in Dubai be sure to contact Nick at hawkinsnick@yahoo.co.uk for a great experience and quality training.  

Nicks review on https://scubatribe.com/profile/dive-careers/review/6817 about his instructor training in Sri Lanka with Dive-Careers.com

Perfect solution

I discovered Dive Careers when the IDC I was preparing to attend elsewhere was cancelled. A quick internet search led me to the IDC in Sri Lanka. The sign up was simple and from the very beginning Mark was very professional and supportive with the theory preparation.
The IDC was very smooth and was conducted in a relax but informative manner and the candidates were able to see each other develop daily with each practice lesson we delivered.
I felt very confident going into the IE and the results for each candidate were very high.
I would definitely recommend the company and Mark personally to anyone looking to complete their IDC.

 

An IDC Success Story – Roshan Deepal Sri Lanka

Roshan Deepal – Teaching form the Heart

Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, boasts spectacular coral reefs and famous shipwrecks for year round diving off many parts of the island. Tourism and scuba diving holidays remain on the rise after the end of the war making it critical for dive operators to continue to provide safe diving practices and develop comprehensive marine conservation measures and systems.

IDC Sri lanka
Roshan by the pool as a successful dive instructor in Sri Lanka

Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka Water Sports Centre located in Seenigama, is a not-for-profit community based tourism initiative managed by Sri Lankan NGO, Foundation of Goodness (FoG). Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka is committed to delivering a high quality recreational scuba diving operation while educating their customers, the local village community and area fisherman on marine conservation. FoG, in partnership with PADI and Platinum Course Director Mark Soworka sent Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka head dive master, Roshan Deepal to Temple Adventures in India to take part in the PADI Instructor Development Course. This was all made possible through PADI’s Scholarship programme whereby Roshan’s PADI fees were fully covered by the organisation enabling him to obtain this esteemed certification.

Roshan’s scuba career began over 20 years ago in a small coastal fishing village in Dodanduwa in southern Sri Lanka. His first memories are of the sea where the village community comes together for work and life. He was given the opportunity to obtain a certificate through the Sri Lankan government in basic diving and swimming skills. Little did he know his first job as a lifeguard at a hotel in Negombo would be the start of an exciting adventure ahead. The hotel expanded on his government training and enabled him to be employed at their onsite diving centre taking hotel guests on scuba day trips. There began Roshan’s passion for showing others the wonders under the sea.

IDC Sri Lanka
PADI Instructor Roshan and PADI Course Director Mark Soworka meeting up after the IDC to see how Roshan is goign as an instructor

Roshan is very grateful for the opportunities he has been provided all along his scuba career and the pinnacle has been his recent IDC at Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, India. With PADI’s scholarship programme assistance, Roshan was able to secure something he never thought possible. He also met many new friends, networked with other professional divers and to his delight, went diving in a fresh water quarry for the very first time.

Roshan has since returned to Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka with an enthusiastic outlook on growing the scuba industry and awareness of marine conservation in Sri Lanka. His first major task will be to teach OWD and conservation topics to the many disadvantaged rural young people who have gone through FoG’s diving & training programme. Without Roshan and FoG, a PADI certification would not be attainable within the resources of this rural community. He will also introduce marine conservation materials and coral planting initiatives to Foundation of Goodness for possible funding to continue preserving and repairing the coral reef off the Seenigama coastline.

In the coming years, Roshan would like to widen his experience and become qualified as an equipment specialist as this specialty is rather unique to Sri Lanka. He is grateful for the many opportunities and has always felt that his role within the Foundation of Goodness was serendipitous. Before he was hired on as Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka’s Dive Master, he was merely weeks away from leaving his wife and two small children for a long-term diving job in Oman.

PADI IDC Sri Lanka
Roshan on his PADI Instructor Examination

Roshan never wants to stop learning and growing in his career. He wants to teach from his heart and ensure his students, Sri Lankan and foreign, are excited and learning to dive at the highest level of safety and care. He feels it’s his destiny.

www.diveseenigamadivelanka.com

More information:

The Foundation of Goodness, a local NGO located in a coastal village named Seenigama has been in operation since 1999 but really became most effective after the 2004 Tsunami which resulted in over 150 lives lost in Seenigama alone.

Before the Tsunami, for many generations, one of the main livelihoods in this coastal region was coral mining and burning to make quicklime, which was illegal, dangerous, and an environmental nightmare. Research conducted after the tsunami quickly showed that in areas where coral reef had been destroyed, the waves were much more powerful and destructive. This research led to the banning of coral mining resulting in many people (and youth) losing their means of making an income.

In response, the Seenigama Diving & Training Centre commenced in 2008 to redirect local diving and swimming skills from a destructive purpose to one that is constructive. Through our training programme, rural young people have the opportunity to gain diving qualifications to achieve well-paid employment in the technical and recreational diving industry. It is only through previous donation and support that the Foundation of Goodness has been able to successfully implement this project. In recent years, with the economic recession, it has become more difficult to fund this vital programme.  Therefore, in 2013, Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka Water Sports Centre was established as a community based tourism initiative to sustain the Seenigama Diving & Training Centre. Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka is the first not-for-profit dive centre in the region and 100% of the profits are reinvested back into the Foundation of Goodness.

 

The First Sri Lankan PADI IDC

Sri Lanka is truly an amazing country.  A generous and hospitable nation filled with wonderful stories, a rich and diverse culture and history, and fascinating dive destinations.  I had the great fortune in February 2013 to conduct the first PADI Instructor Development Course in Sri Lanka.  It was an excellent experience.

Sri lanka IDC
IDC Sri Lanka down on the beach

The IDC was conducted at Poseidon Diving Station Hikkuduwa with all Sri Lankan nationals as candidates.  Right from the beginning the stories and experiences started flowing.  The dive center was started in 1973 by Swedish adventurer Sven and Lesley Sembakuttige, father of the present owner Chami Sembakuttige.  Fortunately Sven was actually visiting with his family so I had the opportunity to listen spellbound to his stories of diving Sri Lanka in  the seventies.  At 82 he only gave up diving last year and has a lifetime full of adventures from diving in the first ever made dry suit, discovering wrecks and treasures around Sri Lanka, even showing me the tiny compressor that they smuggled into Sri Lanka to fill those first tanks; through to the stories of the importance Chamis dad played to the local community.

No greater tribute to that exists than the comparatively low loss of life on Hikkuduwa in the 2004 tsunami.  Chamis family have strongly advocated protecting Hikkuduwas reef for decades.  During the IDC we had Oliver Ridley and Green turtles nesting and hatching right in front of the dive centre.  Swim twenty meters out to where we were doing the confined presentations and you have hundreds of trevally schooling, incredibly enormous turtles swimming around and interfering with the confined skills and a school of bumphead parrotfish.  A great testament to the local community protecting their reef. Reefs either side of Hikkuduwa have been decimated by generations of limestone mining.  During the tsunami, those areas that had lost the natural barrier protection of the reef were completely devastated with massive loss of life.  Few died where the reef remained relatively in tact.  A legacy to the forethought of Lesley Sembakuttige.

Some of the guys leading dives there, like Lal and Sunil, have been leading dives in the local area since the 70s and 80s.  Such an immense wealth of local knowledge and experience.  Lal was actually on the fisrt Sri Lankan IDC and has been a registered PADI divemaster since 1993.  When I checked his card at the commencement of the IDC I remarked on how worn and water logged the card looked. He replied how he actually lost his wallet in the tsunami, only to rediscover it three years later on the inner side of the reef, PADI Divemaster card still in tact.

Sri lanka IDC
One of the first Sri lankan PADI Dive Instructors

Next IDC I really hope I can organise a trip with these guys out to the Great Bassos 1701 silver wreck found by Arthur C. CLarke in 1961.  They still know where the treasure lies. But then again, I would also like to go diving in March/April off Tincomalee after seeing the video from one of the other IDC candidates, Menake, of diving with a pod of sperm whales.  Guess I will have to do several more trips to Sri Lanka.

WE also conducted the first Enriched Air instructor course on Sri Lanka.  This was at the insistence of Lakshmann who was doing his staff instructor course.  After years of diving on mixed gases and blending his gases at home, he thought he better do the course and check that he has been doing things correctly all of these years.  I guess that he has not blown himself up is proof that he was following correct procedures. He actually started diving with Mike Wallis who was filming underwater Sri Lanka back in the 60s and 70s and was invloved with Arthr C. Clarke in the finding of the treasure on Great Bassos.

PADI IDc Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka IDC celebrations begin after a super successful PADI Instructor Exam

Teaching the next generation of Sri Lankan divemasters and PADI Instructors is well underway.  Poseidon Diving were also hosting Plongeurs du Monde at the same time of the IDC.  Plongeurs du Monde is a group of committed dive instructors that devote their time and money, with support from PADI, to training scuba diving to local children in under developed regions.  Louis, the president of Plongeurs du Monde, has established programmes in Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and is also looking at India.  Since the 2004 tsunami they have trained over 200 kids in Sri Lanka.  This year saw their first batch of successful PADI Rescue Diver candidates and next year will be the beginning of PADI Divemaster training. They are doing a wonderful job at helping foster an appreciation and respect in local communities for scuba diving and the underwater environment, plus helping mould our next generation of PADI dive professionals.

PADI IDC scholarship
Community development programmes run in conjunction with Plongeurs du Monde

Such a wealth of experience on this IDC, but they were all still very nervous when it came to completing the PADI Instructor examination.  They did not know what to expect from PADI.  At the beginning of the IDC they had recounted how on the first ever PADI Member Forum conducted by Johnny Chew after the tsunami, they had all turned up nervous and worried, expecting PADI to administer exams and check their knowledge.  Luckily the PADI examiner, Rob Scammell put their fears to rest and made the IE as relaxing as possible, creating an environment conducive for these guys to show how knowledgeable as divers they are and how good as instructors they will be.  Drummers on the beach and drinks and curry we celebrated 100% success for the first ever IDC on Sri Lanka.  Congratulations Menake, Praveen, Feroz and Lal.  Sri Lanka will continue to grow as a dive destination with continued support from you guys and I look forward to IDCs on Sri Lanka in the future. Thanks also for the support and help during the IDC from Chami, Lakshmann, Devsiri and Rob.

EFRI IDC Sri Lanka
EFRI Trainer programme

IT was really a week of firsts.  After the IE Rob Scammell conducted the EFRI trainer course with Rob Partridge for Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, making him the first EFRIT in India.

After the IE I had the opportunity to travel around Sri Lanka for a few days and found a wonderful country rich in history and culture.  Visited some of the best ruins and examples of buddhist art that I have seen anywhere.  Plus glimpsed great national parks with a wonderful diverstiy of wildlife.  I really look forward to returning to Sri Lanka.  It is sure to become a must see travel destination in the near future and is simply a fantastic destination for an IDC.

Sri Lanka - a wonderful country to travel around after your IDC
Sri Lanka – a wonderful country to travel around after your IDC

Currently we are conducting three IDCs per year on Sri lanka.  March/April in Hikkaduwa, June/July in Trincomalee and November/December again in Hikkaduwa.  Contact me at mark@dive-careers.com if interested in being part of these programmes.

IDC Sri Lanka
Sunset on our Sri lanka IDC