Since August 22nd, Wicked Diving’s team of teachers have been visiting local tourism school, SMKN1 Labuan Bajo, everyThursday. Headed up by Jo, Wicked’s Conservation Manager, and Mei, Wicked’s office superstar and former student of SMKN1, the programme began with a series of lessons focusing on marine conservation.From threats to the marine environment, to information about how many eggs a turtle lays, we aimed to give students a much broader view of what they can find right on their doorstep in the Komodo National Park. In addition, students were also given an inspirational talk by one of their peers, Marsel, one of Wicked’s divemasters and a Flores local. The aim of these classes was to inspire pride in the local area and give more information about how and why students should aspire to work within the dive industry.The next stage is interviews. The programme we have prepared is not only theory based. Our intention is to take some of the more promising and enthusiastic students through a series of practical lessons, which will begin with swimming and then see some learning how to dive and working their way through the dive certifications to finally reach Stress and Rescue diver and then ultimately to become SSI Dive Guides. However, with 86 students in the class, it is impossible in our time frame to provide practical training in these areas to all the students to ensure success and further learning. We now begin the difficult task of whittling down these smiling and hopeful students to a smaller number.We started the interviews on a student by student basis. We were looking for good command of English, ambition and a real desire to work within the dive industry. It’s a really tough job, as many students want to be given this great opportunity. The wonderful thing we realised throughout the initial interview process was how effective our classroom sessions had been. Many students cited a newly discovered love for the underwater environment and for its conservation. We also received lots of feedback which showed that the students had not thought it would be possible to start work within the dive industry and they now understand that it is possible, and also what skills they need to be successful. Our goals are two-fold and the swimming lessons will be split into 2 groups. Complete beginners in one group, and those who can already swim in a second. We will provide important life skills to those students who cannot yet swim, as whatever employment they seek in the future, living on an island nation and working in tourism will most likely mean exposure to water, be it swimming pools, waterfalls or the sea. By learning how to swim they can be more confident and safe around the water.The second group of swimmers will be given an opportunity to improve their skills and demonstrate comfort in the water. It is from this group that we will take students to complete the diving programme.We have already seen some very promising individuals, some of whom with a real hunger to become dive guides, even some students whose family members work within the industry already. We are looking forward to finishing the interviews in next week’s lesson and then being able to inform students of their successes. One of the really inspiring finding is that so far, we have just as many females as males. Go the girls!We’ll keep you updated as we continue the programme and even profile some of our candidates on the blog, so you can meet them in person!
-Wicked Diving Komodo