Interview: PADI Course Director Zoona Naseem

Zoona Naseem is only the second Maldivian to have attained the rank of PADI Course Director, and the country’s first female to do so. She is the owner of Moodhu Bulhaa Dive Centre in Villingili Island, just 10 minutes away from the capital, and is passionate about getting young people diving. Here she shares her PADI journey, discusses what it’s like to be at the top of a male-dominated industry, and advises instructors on the best way to become a CD.

 What inspired you to become a PADI Pro?

I spent the first few years of my life in a small island in Noonu Atoll in the north of the Maldives, so I was always in the ocean as a child. I learnt how to swim at the same time I learnt how to walk. When I did my first dive at 17, honestly, I found it so easy that I thought to myself ‘Why isn’t everyone doing this? And why are there no female instructors?’ I think I knew after that first dive that I was going to become a PADI Pro.

How do you think you’ve changed as you’ve moved up the ranks to become a PADI Course Director?

I did my IDC when I was 18, straight after leaving school, so I’ve been a PADI Pro for my entire adult life. One of my first jobs was at a resort called Sun Island Resort & Spa and the dive centre was one of the busiest in the country at that time. It was like a dive factory! I got to teach every day and I really developed my skills as a teacher. Of course, later I learnt managerial skills as a dive centre manager but it’s my teaching skills that I am continually improving as I move up the ranks.

What will it mean to the Maldives to have its first female Course Director?

In the Maldives, there are still very few women working in the tourism industry, and I feel that this is down to a lot of lingering misconceptions about resorts amongst Maldivians. But in reality, resorts are fantastic places to work for women. You get exposed to so many different cultures, you save everything you earn and there are lots of opportunities for travel and training. So I think that with a female PADI Course Director working in the country, I can show people what a fantastic industry we are a part of, and what you can achieve as a PADI instructor. My greatest hope is that more women will follow my example, and I have set a personal goal to have two female Maldivian instructors working in my dive centre.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in your diving career?

Becoming a Course Director. It was a long journey to get here, and I didn’t really even believe it was possible until recently. Nobody ever told me that this was an option for me! So it definitely feels like a big achievement. And my other greatest achievement, the thing that gives me great happiness, is seeing so many of my students now owning their own dive centres. They are leaders in the Maldivian dive industry, and I’m extremely proud of them.

What does diving give you that nothing else does?

On a personal level, when I’m diving, I get a sense of peace and happiness that I can’t find out of the water. There’s nothing in the world like diving. But as a diver, I also have the chance to be an advocate for our environment, to be a marine ambassador, and that’s a privilege.

Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now in your diving career?

When I was working for Banyan Tree International, I was managing five dive centres, plus five water sports centres – so it was a real challenge. And at first, managing all those male employees proved a little tricky. They found it hard to accept a local female as their leader, but I didn’t give up! With a little patience and perseverance, the team soon saw that I knew what I was doing.

Do you believe PADI instructors change others’ lives through diving?

For sure! When you take someone underwater for the first time, they will always remember you. One of my strongest memories was of taking a blind student diving. He simply wanted to experience how it felt to be underwater; to be weightless. We have the chance to create amazing experiences for people, and to educate them about our fragile underwater ecosystems.

Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver to learn to dive?

Well in the Maldives, it’s pretty easy to convince people, because the best of this country is underwater. There’s not a boring second when you’re diving, and it’s extremely safe. Actually, being underwater is much safer than walking in the busy roads of our capital city!

PADI Course Director Zoona Naseem

What does “Be Best. Be PADI” mean to you?

 It’s simple. PADI is the best diving organisation in the world; there is no comparison. PADI changes lives!

What would you say to other PADI Instructors hoping to become PADI Course Directors?

 I would always encourage instructors to keep moving ahead, and to explore opportunities to increase their training, knowledge and experience. I tell everyone that becoming a PADI Course Director is an option open to them, you just have to work towards it.

What did you enjoy most about completing the PADI Course Director training?

The trainers were without doubt the best part of the course. Their presentations were so entertaining and creative that I honestly never lost focus. And just getting the chance to meet these incredible divers from all over the world and to work on group assignments with them was so enjoyable.

And lastly, what’s your favourite dive site in the Maldives?

Oh, that’s a hard question but I think I’ve got to say Embudu Express, which is a channel that we often visit with our dive centre. There can be dozens of sharks, huge schools of eagle rays, and abundant fish life. But every dive is different, and it depends on how you dive!

 

Sharks, Rays and Turtles – Your PADI Speciality with Prodivers Kuredu

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Ray van Eeden

You got to love sharks, rays and turtles! In fact, at Kuredu Prodivers we love our residents so much that we’ve compiled everything we know about them and created two specialty courses that you should put on your must-do list: Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course, and Sea Turtle Diver Course. These two courses provide the best way for you to learn more about these incredible animals – and of course see them in their natural environment, at reefs around Kuredu.

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

During the Maldivian Shark and Ray course you will find out more about the incredible sensory system that sharks and rays possess, learn how to identify the different species, determine their gender and understand the mating behaviour, as well as the need for us to preserve and protect the current populations of sharks and rays. The narrow channels, where the currents flow in and out of the atoll and the deep out reefs around Kuredu are the ideal habitat to get encounters with sharks and rays.

Photo by Marek Machinia

Photo by Marek Machinia

For those of you prefer the sleepy headed sea turtles, the Sea Turtle Course will surely be of interest to you, especially since Kuredu is home to the largest known population of Green Sea Turtles in the Maldives. With over 63 identified individuals resident around the island, this makes it the perfect place to enrol in the course. It offers the chance to learn more about how turtles have adapted and evolved through their fight for survival, and you will also learn how to identify the different species and to distinguish whether they are male and female, and how they reproduce. Are you familiar with the famous Kuredu Caves, a.k.a. Turtle Airport? The course is also available to snorkelers.

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

The PADI Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course was developed by Prodivers to help increase the awareness about these magnificent creatures. Get in touch with us to find out more about diver qualification requirements for the courses.

Visit www.prodivers.com or drop us an email via info@prodivers.com

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PADI Pioneers: Generating Ocean Warriors in the Maldives

In a quiet corner of a luxury resort in the Maldives you’ll find an PADI Five Star IDC centre quite unlike any other.

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Teaching Maldivians to scuba dive might seem to some like selling coals to Newcastle. Wherever you stand in the Maldives, you’re always barely a stone’s throw from the ocean, and many Maldivians can swim before they can walk. Diving is in the country’s DNA.

It could come as a surprise to some then, that until the mid-2000s, there were only a handful of places offering PADI Instructor Development Courses in the country, with many aspiring instructors actually having to travel to Thailand to complete their certifications.

Founding an Institution

Luckily, this didn’t go unnoticed by Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed, the Maldives’ first and only PADI Course Director and in 2006, he decided to do something about it. Working at the time as the operations manager of Holiday Island Resort & Spa, part of the Villa conglomerate, Sendi approached the company chairman – the Hon. Qasim Ibrahim – and shared his concerns about the lack of educational opportunities for local dive and water sport professionals.

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The conversation would not only change his own life, but would ultimately change the face of diving education in the Maldives. Convinced by the lack of Maldivian educational facilities for divers, Mr Ibrahim asked Sendi to oversee the development of an institution that would change all that. Like Sendi, he wanted to provide a space for Maldivians to become qualified leaders in the diving field. And with that, The Villa Institute of Water Sports and Hospitality was born the same year.

A Place in the Sun

Purpose-built in a quiet corner of Sun Island Resort & Spa (another Villa Hotel), the institute quickly became a hub for young dive and water sports enthusiasts hoping to make a career in the industry. With spacious student and teacher accommodation and modern classrooms overlooking a lagoon that welcomes whale sharks and manta rays to its outer reef, the establishment is enough to make any Course Director drool.

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But what makes the institute really special is what it aims to achieve. Its objective? To equip a new generation of certified PADI Dive Masters and Instructors with the skills needed to become not only leaders in the field of recreational diving tourism but also trailblazers in ecological advocacy.

Expansion and Diversification

Lofty goals to say the least, but within a few short years it has managed to do just that. After a restructuring to become the founding faculty of Villa College, (now the Maldives’ leading private education provider offering courses in everything from marketing to law) and an expansion to include facilities in the capital, the reigns were handed over to Dr. Sham’aa ‘Anna’ Hameed. Under her leadership and the close involvement of Sendi, the institute is well on track to realise its vision.

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Not only does the faculty run multiple PADI Instructor Development Courses throughout the year, it now offers Certificate Three, foundation and even degree courses in marine studies that offer PADI electives as course credit.

Ocean Warriors

These courses provide students with the tools to become innovators in the field of marine studies. As a result, graduating students go on to enter the Maldivian workforce in a number of roles: as dive and water sports instructors of course, but also as researchers, marine biologists, wildlife rangers, even government environmental officials and legislators.

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What started as an initiative of affirmative action to provide quality education and training for locals has now developed into an educational model that is forward thinking on an international level. As such, they are arming a legion of self-titled ‘Ocean Warriors’ with the skills to be the next generation of environmental guardians and leaders in the Maldivian diving industry.

 

About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is a freelance travel writer and content marketer who has been living in the Maldives for over six years. She’s a certified PADI rescue diver and when she’s not underwater, she writes about Maldivian culture and tourism. You can read more of her thoughts over on www.littlebirdjournal.com

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How to inform PADI about my DAN Europe insurance

Text by Laura Marroni Exec. Vice President Planning & Administration, DAN Europe Foundation, Continental Europe Office DANEUROPE.ORG

DAN Europe, does offer three plans which include such a coverage:

  • Pro Bronze
  • Pro Silver
  • Pro Gold

All of them cover third party liability and legal defence up to €4,000,000.

Whenever you take out any of these plans, you can take advantage of a useful service:

You can request a notification to be sent to PADI EMEA right after completing your purchase, informing them about the insurance you have just activated.

How to do so? Take a look at the following pages to find it out.

Suppose you are a new DAN user and you go for a Pro Silver.

First off, you start the online process via the DAN Europe website by clicking on “Join / Renew

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After setting up your own DAN account (or logged on to your existing one), you are supposed to choose a plan. Recall you want a Pro Silver, so this is the page you end up on:

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Now, pay attention to the box whose title is “Training agency”.

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If you wish a notification to be sent to PADI EMEA upon completing the purchase process, you need to:

1. Tick the box dan-1

2. Click “Edit Training Agencies” and look for PADI EMEA on the list of organizations.dan-2

3. Type your PADI number in the box on the right. If you haven’t been assigned a PADI number yet, you can select “pending”.dan-3

4. Click on “Save” and this will come out.dan-4

Please note that no notification has been sent yet.

As soon as you complete the process and your payment is confirmed, we will automatically send a message to PADI EMEA stating that you have just purchased a Pro Silver plan.

This will save you time as you will take out your insurance and inform PADI about it in one go.

Training Insights… Adventures in Diving Part 3: Who are your potential Adventure Divers?

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Any qualified diver can choose to explore the underwater world in new and different ways. PADI Adventure Dives linked to Specialty Diver courses teach existing divers new techniques and give them the tools and knowledge they need to enhance their diving exploration.

There are over 25 Specialty courses available, covering a vast range of topic from photography to dive equipment and from marine life to wreck diving. There really is something to suit every diver!

PADI (Junior) Open Water Divers who are at least 10 years old can enrol in an Adventure Diver course. Young divers may only participate in certain Adventures Dives – check the PADI Instructor Manual for more information on pre-requisites.

Top tips to attract new Adventure Divers

  • Use your existing customer database to send email newsletters and offers to promote upcoming adventure dives or special offers.
  • Make sure you include plenty of information during your PADI Open Water Diver courses so that your new, keen students will know what their next step will be and how easy it is for them to carry on their training. Many divers will get the bug after their first course and this is a great time to encourage them to book the next one.
  • Offer special packages to help cross-sell your courses and equipment, for example:
      • Digital Underwater Photographer adventure dive bundled with a new camera and accessory sales offer
      • 2.7.12.1-scuba-accessoriesDeep Diver and Wreck Diver adventure dives bundled with a discounted dive trip to a local deep wreck site
      • Drysuit Diver and Ice Diver adventure dives plus a discount on new drysuits
      • Underwater Navigator adventure dive plus a compass and slate accessory set
  • Make sure you have plenty of promotional materials inside and outside your store to advertise your adventure dives. You never know when you’ll spark the interest of divers who are passing by. Don’t forget to make use of the various marketing tools available to help promote Adventure Dives to new and existing customers.

For information on the training requirements for teaching Adventure Dives contact training.emea@padi.com.

Training Insights… Adventures in Diving Part 2: How easy is it to teach the theory?

How easy is it to teach the theory for these adventure dives?

Very! The easiest way to get started is to have your students register for Advanced Open Water Diver Online (PADI’s eLearning option) to get started immediately.

The web-based system will allow them to learn about seven of the most popular Adventure Dives via an easy to use, interactive online program. The program inclddes videos, audio, pictures and text, plus short quizzes to allow them to gauge their progress and review and correct anything they might happen to miss. This lets them move through the program efficiently and at their own pace.

The adventure dives included in the PADI Open Water Diver Online modules are:

  • Deep
  • Underwater Navigation
  • Night Diver
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy
  • Wreck Diver
  • Underwater Naturalist

They will also have access to an online version of the Adventures in Diving manual and can complete sections for other Adventure Dives as directed by you, the PADI Instructor.

The eLearning course will be available for one year from the time of course registration (though they will have permanent access to their online Adventures in Diving manual).

Once completed, you will be notified that the student has finished and they will be given an eRecord which they can print and bring with them to the dive center.

To finish, simply schedule sessions with your students to review their knowledge development before going on to complete their Adventure Dives.

Don’t forget to make use of the various marketing tools available to help promote Adventure Dives to new and existing customers. For information on the training requirements for teaching Adventure Dives contact training.emea@padi.com.

Training Insights… Adventures in Diving Part 1: Why teach Adventure Dives?

Have you always wanted to teach a wider variety of diving activities, rather than just DSDs and PADI Open Water Diver courses? If you have a favourite underwater hobby such as digital underwater photography, fish identification or wreck diving, there’s a long list of scuba adventures you can take part in by teaching this program. Not only does this mean you’ll get to do even more of what you love, but you’ll get to share your passion with your students, too.

Don’t forget that if your student completes three Adventure Dives they can earn the Adventure Diver certification (a subset of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course). Each Adventure Dive may also be credited towards the first dive of the corresponding PADI Specialty Diver Course and vice versa.

Teaching Adventure Dives is therefore not just a way to progress students’ training opportunities, but is also a great opportunity to encourage your students to try new things, build on their existing scuba skills and gain more confidence overall. Your enthusiasm will help them enjoy scuba diving more than ever.

* Do remember to check your PADI Instructor Manual key standards. PADI (Junior) divers may only participate in certain Adventures Dives.

Don’t forget to make use of the various marketing tools available to help promote Adventure Dives to new and existing customers. For information on the training requirements for teaching Adventure Dives contact training.emea@padi.com.

Training Insights… EFR: What is an Emergency First Response Distinctive?

warehouse-injuryIf you have identified a particular need in your local market and have the expertise to write a course to address those needs, you can develop an EFR Distinctive specialty course.

Perhaps you want to teach first aid to people who regularly take part in another activity (such as another sport or hobby, or a specific occupation) and think they need additional focus on some skills. Alternatively, you might have some customers asking you to teach a particular course or skill.

EFR_72010_lWhatever your reason for wanting to create a bespoke EFR course for your customers, simply let us know about your idea and we can help you develop this further. You don’t have to be a medical professional and courses are often based upon EFR core courses supported by additional scenarios or modules that you’ve contributed.

If you’ve not harnessed the potential of EFR then get started today. For information on the training requirements for EFR courses or for advice on writing your own EFR Distinctive specialty course, please contact training.emea@padi.com.

Training Insights… EFR: What are the different Emergency First Response courses?

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If you’ve been considering expanding your dive operation to include Emergency First Response (EFR) courses but are unsure of what courses are available, check out the guide below:

  • booth3541-cmykPrimary Care is a course covering life threatening conditions and focuses on a simple set of priorities (ABCABS) so that emergency providers know what to do and when.
  • Secondary Care is all about non-life threatening conditions. Providers learn how to look after victims until the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrive, and how to monitor and prevent further injury.
  • Primary and Secondary Care is the most common combination and is a prerequisite for PADI Rescue Diver, Divemaster and Emergency First Response Instructor levels.
  • Care for Children is a primary and secondary course focused on infants and children. It can be combined with other courses or run separately.
  • IMG0007-cmykCPR and AED is a short course focused just on CPR and the use of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators). It is an ideal introduction to first aid training.
  • Regional courses are courses that meet specific regional needs, such as workplace first aid requirements or training for child care professionals. Check out the EFR website to see what is available in your area.

If you’ve not harnessed the potential of EFR then get started today. For information on the training requirements for EFR courses, please contact training.emea@padi.com.

Training Insights… EFR: Who else can you offer Emergency First Response courses to?

shutterstock_284644667Ask any of your customers (divers or non-divers) if they would know what to do if one of their friends or family had a medical emergency, and have the confidence to feel prepared. None of us like to think that we couldn’t help.

Emergency First Response (EFR) courses are a great way to get the non-diving friends and family of your existing customers involved in your dive centre, and act as an ice-breaker for introducing them to your dive crew and buddies.

Three Ideas for Broadening your Audience…

  • DSC02513Parents are keen to understand how they can be prepared to help their kids in times of need – why not offer the Care for Children course just for them?
  • In many countries, CPR and First Aid training is being introduced earlier into school curriculums. Try approaching your local school to offer training to your divers’ children, other children and even teachers! The Emergency First Response system has all the tools to keep kids engaged in the training – just check to make sure your schedule is suitable for the age and attention span of a younger audience.
  • shutterstock_228031189Good health may deteriorate as we get older and being prepared for potential emergencies can provide a welcome reassurance. Those who have already retired may find themselves with some extra time on their hands… perfect for completing and maintain their CPR and First Aid training.

If you’ve not harnessed the potential of EFR then get started today. For information on the training requirements for EFR courses, please contact training.emea@padi.com.