Tech I IE
Red Sea, Egypt
One of my favorite places in the world to dive is in the Red Sea. And one of my favorite dive operators is Faisal Khalaf from Red Sea Explorers. Faisal is a very dear friend and when the planets lined up so that he could help me arrange my Tech 1 IE in the Red Sea on his boat the MV Tala......well, let's just say it won't be worthwhile buying lottery tickets for the rest of this year because I have used up all my luck...
This was truly the opportunity of a lifetime. In certifying a GUE instructor, two independent signatures from two different evaluators are required. And at the Tech level, these instructors don't exactly grow on trees... I was very fortunate to be able to arrange to have the two instructor evaluators who had been working with me to come on the MV Tala for 10 days in September to evaluate me as I taught a GUE Tech I class. I was putting all my eggs in one basket in that it would be a "2 signatures or no signatures" kind of trip as it would not really be possible for one evaluator to say "you are good to go" while the other who was also there said "I think you should take up chess". So this may not have been the least riskiest way to go about this but I felt confident I was ready and I was encouraged by my evaluators as well. I was also lucky in that my students were terrific about this. :-) In fact, one of my students was the wife of my good friend and GUE Instructor, Karim Hamza, who was also being evaluated for his Tech I credentials. Karim had been marching with me in lockstep through the Tech I internship process and I guess he felt that he trusted me to teach his wife :-)
The course was long and stress filled for me. I felt that I was on the stage for 24 hours a day and being evaluated all the time. Which actually wasn't surprising considering it was the case...:-) But to counter this was the beautiful waters of the Red Sea, the MV Tala, unlimited sunshine and stunning wrecks to do our experience dives on!
I am happy to report that all ended well and not only did we have 5 more GUE tech I divers at the end of the course, we had two very happy and exhausted GUE Tech I Instructors! :-) I have to say that this was one of the most rewarding days of my life to date and I had to pinch myself several times to make sure it was really happening.
I was also especially grateful that present on the trip was one of my very best friends and mentors, Mark Messersmith who was one of the first people to shake my hand. :-) It really meant the world to me to have him there on that day considering that he also helped mentor me when I was interning as a Fundamentals instructor.
And the first person to shake my hand? Dan MacKay, the GUE instructor who beat me into submission in my own Fundamentals class over 5 years ago...:-) and the first person to give me a Signature awarding me my Tech I instructor certification.
And if that wasn't enough, how about world class explorer Richard Lundgren being the other evaluator and signatory to my certification...the same person who had just two months before discovered one of the most important historical shipwrecks of our generation. The Mars, in the Baltic.
What a privelege to be associated with people of this caliber and been measured and not found wanting. Thank you gentlemen. :-)
By the way, this last photo is of the cowbell that Robert Arak gave me a month or so after to celebrate "team cowbell" passing their T1 and my first T1 class :-)