First PADI Instructor Exam in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 15-16 Feb_ IDC Mark Soworka smallPADI Asia Pacific conducted the very first Instructor Exam in Sri Lanka from 15-16 February, 2013.

Platinum PADI Course Director, Mark Soworka from Koh Tao Thailand, provided the following story leading up to this significant event…

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 a wonderful experience.  The IDC was conducted at PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre Poseidon Diving Station, Hikkuduwa with all Sri Lankan candidates.

Right from the beginning the stories and experiences started flowing.  The dive centre 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 importance Chamis’ dad played in 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 Hikkuduwa’s 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 to check on us and a school of bump head parrotfish.  It’s 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 werecompletely devastated with massive loss of life.  Few died where the reef remained relatively intact – a testament 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 actually completed the 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 intact.

On the next PADI 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 Trincomalee after seeing the video from one of the other IDC candidates, Menaka, 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 Nitrox Instructor course on Sri Lanka.  This was at the suggestion of Lakshmann who was doing his PADI Staff Instructor course.  He actually started diving with Mike Wallis who was filming underwater in Sri Lanka back in the ‘60s and ‘70s and was involved with Arthur C. Clarke in finding the treasure on Great Bassos.

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 as the IDC.  Plongeurs du Monde is a group of committed dive instructors that devote their time and money – with support from PADI – in training local children in under developed regions to scuba dive.  Louis Rebboh, the President of Plongeurs du Monde, has established programmes in Philippines, Vietnam, and 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.

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, PADI Instructor 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.

With drummers on the beach, drinks and curry, we celebrated 100% success for the first ever IDC on Sri Lanka.  Congratulations Menaka, 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.

It was really a week of firsts.  After the Instructor Exam, Rob Scammell conducted the Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer course with Rob Partridge for Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, making him the first EFRIT in India.

Afterwards I had the opportunity to travel around Sri Lanka for a few days and found a wonderfulcountry rich in history and culture.  I visited some of the best ruins and examples of Buddhist art that I have seen anywhere and glimpsed great national parks with a wonderful diversity 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 Instructor Development Course.

PHOTO: The four candidates with their dive mentors during the Instructor Development Course at Hikkuduwa, in Sri Lanka.  Left to Right:  Devsiri Peiris (IDC Staff), Chami Sembakuttige (IDC Staff and owner), Lal Sembakutti,  Rob Partridge (IDC Staff),  Lakshman Muthukuda (IDC Staff),  Mohamed Feroz, Menaka Goonwardena, Praveen Wijesuriya and PADI Course Director, Mark Soworka.

For details of the next Instructor Development Course in Sri Lanka, please contact Mark Soworka

Email:  careers@buddhaview-diving.com

Girl Power on PADI IE at Gili Trawangan

Manager Trawangan Dive, Sarah Best; PADI IDC Staff Instructor Donna Gallagher; PADI Instructor Silvia Peter; PADI Instructor Jenna Barnham; PADI Regional Manager Emma Hewitt; PADI Instructor Sian Williams, PADI Instructor Signe Damgaard, PADI Course Director Ayala Cohen and PADI Instructor Examiner, Danny Dwyer.
Manager Trawangan Dive, Sarah Best; PADI IDC Staff Instructor Donna Gallagher; PADI Instructor Silvia Peter; PADI Instructor Jenna Barnham; PADI Regional Manager Emma Hewitt; PADI Instructor Sian Williams, PADI Instructor Signe Damgaard, PADI Course Director Ayala Cohen and PADI Instructor Examiner, Danny Dwyer.

January 2013 finished on a high note for 4 new PADI Instructors, Silvia Peter, Jenna Barnham, Sian Williams and Signe Damgaard when they successfully completed their Instructor Exam on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia on 31st January.

And a rare occasion it was indeed.  Not only were the four candidates female, but also the PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Donna Gallagher; PADI Course Director, Ayala Cohen; PADI Regional Manager, Emma Hewitt and Manager Trawangan Dive, Sarah Best. Right from the start PADI Instructor Examiner, Danny Dwyer could hardly believe his luck!

“To be honest, I was a little apprehensive before the Instructor Development Course started,” says PADI CD Ayala Cohen, “but from day one it was a wonderful experience.   To have four women from different countries and backgrounds working to help each other achieve a goal was an amazing thing to be part of.”

Following on from the IDC and IE, the new instructors were happy to share their recent experiences..

PADI Instructor Sian Williams explains, “Mastering classroom work such as physics and physiology was always a challenge at college but school is somehow a little easier when you are living on a tropical island!”   The best thing for me was the group of lovely girls I met during the IDC, and Ayala, the Course Director.  Everyone was happy to support and help each other, whilst having a hilarious time in the classroom and in the sea. It was the best experience ever and so satisfying knowing what we all accomplished.  Ayala’s teaching was amazing and helped all of us reach our full potential.

To focus on one single subject for three whole weeks from morning ‘til night time was somewhat of a challenge for me” adds PADI Instructor Silvia Peter, “but I enjoyed being with an awesome group with good team spirit.  We had an amazing Course Director and IDC Staff Instructor: Ayala and Donna. Thanks for everything, I had the best time!

The biggest challenge for me, says PADI Instructor Jenna Barnham was defeating myself – I am my own worst enemy when it comes to stress. Whenever I had problems preparing or studying, I would get super stressed out, usually over nothing as well!  The IDC was close to what I had expected but the IE certainly was not!  It was actually fun.  Either way, we were all happy with everything we had done and accomplished and the IDC/IE was somewhere in between taking forever and being over way too fast!

So look out dive industry!”

Congratulations to the 4 new PADI Instructors at Trawangan Dive, Gili Trawangan!!  GO GIRLS!!

Are you interested in becoming a PADI Instructor?  Visit padi.com to find your nearest PADI IDC Centre. PADI Members in Asia Pacific certified more divers in 2012 than any year in PADI’s history.  2013 is a great time to be a PADI Pro.

Instructor Development Course in Malapascua, Philippines

Platinum PADI Course Director Camille Lemmens is currently conducting a PADI Instructor Development Course in Malapascua, Philippines.

The IDC which commenced on 18th November is taking place at PADI 5 Star IDC Resort, Sea Explorers and Camille reports that the 8 candidates who come from Europe, Turkey, Tahiti and Brazil, are enjoying themselves during their extensive 12 days of training to become PADI Instructors.  The course will take the students to local dive sites, “The Cemetery” and “The Lighthouse” during their Confined and Open Water presentations. Assisting Camille on the program is PADI Master Instructor, Johan Blixt. 

Immediately following the Malapascua IDC, the group will present for the PADI Instructor Exam, commencing 29th November, 2012.

Please join PADI in wishing these 8 enthusiastic students every success as they work towards becoming PADI Instructors.

EFR Instructor Trainer Programme – Koh Tao – September 14, 2012

EFR Instructor Trainer Course

Demand continues to grow for EFR Instructors, particularly with the OWSI exit requirement. This programme is conducted using a mix of online study and practical sessions. Upon registration you will receive information on how to access the online portion of the programme which must be completed prior to attending the practical skills training and assessment portion of the programme.

To attend the EFR Instructor Trainer Course you must:

  • Be a current EFR Primary & Secondary Care and Care for Children Instructor.
  • Have issued 25 EFR Course Completion Authorisations or taught at least 5 separate EFR courses.
  • Have no verified quality assurance issues on file within the past 12 months.

Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer Course fee includes the following products:

  • Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer Guide & Lesson Guides CD-Rom
  • EFR Care at a Glance card
  • Online study components.
  • Application fee for Instructor Trainer.

 Please click on this link to be taken to the EFR IT Online registration page:

EFR IT – Koh Tao – September 14, 2012 or register via the PADI Pro’s site under Pro Development/EFR.

Contact Matt Cater via email to confirm you meet pre-requisites: padi@padi.com.au