10 April 2014

Divemaster Internship Week 4

Its been a while since my last post (and way more than a week).  This is because there were a number of things that happened during that week that I have had to take time to process and to come to terms with.  It is my policy to be honest on this blog, but at the same time I want it to be upbeat and positive for the reader and usually I subscribe to the the mantra that if I don't have anything nice to say, then I don't say it.  In this case, however, I feel that I need to finish the story of my Divemaster Internship.

There were some high points during the week.  I completed two of the DM requirements with very good results.  I got 90% for my theory exam and I got 92 / 125 for my skills demonstration tests.  One of the requirements of the PADI DM course is to be able to demonstrate all the skills from the open water course in such a way that students will be able to understand and replicate them.  Since it has been 10 years since I practiced some of these skills and others I just did so that they worked, it took some practice for me to get them up to demonstration standard.  The video above was taken the morning before I did my skills test and I found it very useful to be able to "see" what I was doing.  Little things like remembering to keep my fingers when counting closer to my face and trying to look relaxed like it was "easy" and I wasn't concentrating like hell on what to do next or what I'd forgotten.  The good news is that I managed to convince the instructor who assessed me and I passed :)

But the undercurrents that I'd felt in the previous weeks finally came to the surface.  There were 2 members of the instruction staff that I'd had difficulties working with and in 2 events that week things came to a head.  The first was the last of my physical test skills - the tired diver tow.  I knew that I had not done well in the previous tests and needed to do well in this in order to complete my DM.  Unfortunately I didn't.  I was upset at not having achieved a fast enough time, but the final straw was the instructor who turned around to me and said something to the effect of "you really need to decide whether or not you want this and if I were you I'd get out there and start swimming now".  That was the final straw for me (I hadn't passed any of the tests above at that point) and I broke down.  I'd really had enough of feeling like being treated (by this particular instructor) as a complete idiot and not getting my questions about how to do things answered in a civil manner.  At that point I seriously considered packing up my bags and going home.  Fortunately I was able to discuss this with one of the owners who was completely unaware of this.  His response confused me.  He said I was a customer (which I was) and I shouldn't be so unhappy.  It then felt like rather than ensuring I was capable and competent in doing tasks management were trying to get me through the course and out of there as quickly as possible.  It was not a pleasant experience.
I can only say a BIG THANK you to the Island staff for looking after me and out for me.  With out you it would've been unbearable.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened and what I could've done differently, but all relationships have 2 sides and it wasn't only me.  I was seriously unhappy at the quality of the mentoring (which is what the DM course is supposed to be rather than skill teaching).  The instructors weren't interested in what I did for a living or that I had 15 years experience in Risk Management.  In their eyes that counted for 0 - even in the risk management section.  I would gladly recommend them for straight skills training - like Open Water or Technical Diving.  They are very good at making sure you can do the steps in the right order.  DM training, however, contains a large number of softer skills which they were unable to explain or demonstrate adequately to me.

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