Guest article by Joydev Paik
In 2005, I was studying at the Bengali-medium school on Havelock Island, and Barefoot Scuba was organising an ecology-quiz for the local students. The winners were to be presented with the opportunity to go for a free Discover Scuba Dive. I won. That is where my story starts.
My family of farmers hails from a settlement of just five huts and farms in the interior part of Govindanagar village on the island. The house is connected to the nearest road by a 2 km (1.2 miles) dirt path. It can’t be accessed by any motor vehicle. I would walk this same path every day, starting at 5am, followed by a 1.5 km bicycle ride to Barefoot Scuba during my training to become a PADI Professional later in my career.
The first few years after my first dive, I had my mind set on doing more of it, but I had neither the resources nor the time to pursue it further. After completing my schooling, I worked as a construction labourer and helped out at my family’s farms for years trying to save enough money to go diving again. At this time locals were mostly involved in the dive industry as boat staff or other in the form of other labour resources.
Growing up in a family that wasn’t financially secure led me to be socially reserved. All throughout my schooling there was a girl I like but I didn’t have the confidence to approach her.
It took me seven years to save the money I would need for all my training from PADI Open Water Diver to Divemaster. At the age of 27, I did my Open Water Course at the same dive centre that took me for my first dive. To my surprise, the girl I liked since school worked here as a staff member in the office.
I had the luck of having an instructor that spoke my local language. This helped me substantially since I barely spoke English at the time. Not being fluent in English often restricted me from openly interacting with guests and many of the staff that didn’t speak Bengali or Hindi, the two languages I was fluent in.
During my Divemaster course I started improving my communication skills. Seeing my enthusiasm and effort I was encouraged by the senior instructors to start my Instructor Development Course. It seemed like a great idea to me since I could imagine myself bridging the gap between the local youth and diving.
I have now certified and trained 6 more local boys to become divers in Havelock along with many tourists and guests. I am also now in charge of many diving activities at Ocean Dive Centre.
I didn’t speak English fluently but now that doesn’t restrict me from communicating with divers from around the world. I have had the support of the entire staff and my wife – Yes, I asked the girl that I liked since school to marry me last year.
As you can see, becoming a PADI Instructor has completely changed my life – and it can change yours too.
Learn how to become a PADI Instructor here.