just wanted to say a big thank you to you and all your team, Angel, Suzy and Jo did an amazing job...no one else could of prepared us like they did...we had fun along the way and lots of studying but now instead of knowing the knowledge I would feel confident in teaching it. It has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and was so glad I did my DM with UDC first as this was the best preparation ever.
sorry you weren’t here to celebrate with us it was a crazy night.
enjoy your time away, your Mexico footage was certainly exciting and looked an amazing experience.
Monday is my last day here before going back to Cyprus, sure I will miss this place and the amazing people who have become friends
Take care see you in the near future.
Once again, Thank you,
(March/April Divemaster and Instructor course 2010)
I didnt want to let too much time elapse before I got a note off to you regarding my experience at UDC as well as some extraneous rumblings I have heard regarding comments made about the methods or bedside manner of one or more of the instructors / course directors in relation to my experience on Utila as well as the experience of others in the group of Divemasters in Training I found myself part of during my time on Utila.
Obviously, with a limited time to complete the certifications; I may have had a bit different perspective on the experience, but overall I wanted to mention a few points of focus (the critical attributes of the course in fact) that I found to be helpful not only in making it a positive experience for myself but also for the other students as well as students or fun divers I may lead in the future.
First, it should be noted that I was fairly clear when I arrived on Utila as well as having an idea of the nature and volume of the course materials that I would need to cover. It helped to have a long dive history and lots of in water experience. But its important to stress that when I decided to do this; I was not buying a vacation.
The experience was intensive, fast, and furious. There was simply a very finite amount of time to cover a great deal of material and so it became clear that there wasnt going to be the opportunity to slough off a bit as if I had, say, until May on the island to complete the certifications. From the moment it started with Maya in the EFR and Rescue modules, on up until I was certified, I found the quality of the instruction and the instructors to be second to none. This is not a Ritz Carlton package with lots of bells and whistles; and if approached with the level of attention and seriousness it requires, its simply absurd to expect to be individually coddled. Rather, when there were things I did not understand; it was simply explained to me until it made sense. Whether somebody interrupted me or not, whether their bedside manner was gentle or abrupt; has absolutely no bearing on the necessity of the task at hand and I was never bothered by it, nor have I ever uttered a word of complaint about any perceived service issues during my stay on site. Rather, I found a very tight ship run by the instructors and Frank. As a whole, the atmosphere around UDC is very much geared towards the education, the fun diving, and beyond; in such a way as to encourage the most consistent and safest and most ecologically sound diving practices known in the industry. A shining example of this is the involvement in the Coral Watch program which I found particularly interesting and informative; another is the higher standard that UDC demands of its students. Every single instructor with no exception; even those who had no involvement in my personal instruction, were extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and above all; consistent. Not one ever told me to ask Frank or my own instructors; not one provided information contradictory to what I was being taught, and not one hesitated in the least to encourage me even when it was clear that I am not perfect and dont know everything. I was never snapped at, well maybe once or twice; but I can be pretty mouthy myself; I was never treated poorly, and never complained of being treated poorly. Frank in particular made himself available at the most ridiculous hours for clarification of stuff I was in immediate need of grasping regarding the aforementioned dreaded subjects of Physics and Math.
And you know what? The most amazing thing happened; at the age of almost 47, I managed to do ok in that group of young lunatics. They included me in independent study; we ate out together, we went diving together, they invited me to their parties and I am quite sure a few will remain lifelong friends and our paths will cross again. Additionally; its shocking how much of the information crammed into my feeble brain is still up there and how I see how very precisely it is practically applied in my knowledge of diving; its equipment and theory and its physics and physiology. My experience at UDC made me an infinitely safer, better qualified, and fun diver no doubt.
Robert Becker 11th Feb 2010
ProDive Travel New York
Hi Andy & Frank, I hope you are both doing well! Andrew and I are looking to work aboard a yacht for a few months to accrue some extra cash before our next move. We are both doing great, but really really miss Utila! Not only the baleadas, pastelitos and salvas, but the diving and people most of all! We were so spoiled and are seriously considering a trip back to Utila in the next few years to see about any rotational instructor openings. I hope things at the shop are going great! Both of you and UDC are in our thoughts frequently. Talk to you soon :)
Sam & Andrew Hansen 9th Feb 2010
Advanced to Instructor course and MSDT internship
Hope to see you in the fall for MSDT,
David Wells 7th Feb 2010
I am writing this email to you for two reasons, first, I didn't get to say a proper good bye before I left Utila and secondly to quickly reflect on my experiences here on Utila with UDC. Unfortunately, on the last night here (tonight) I have been not feeling well and really need to get on the ferry tomorrow morning. I was hoping to meet up with you, Dick, and Helen at least at the Instructor party at Tree-Tanic tonight, but it just isn't going to happen.
When I quit my job back in September to come to Utila to do what I thought then was going to be all the way through my MSDT, I, probably along with most that give up something they have worked on for years, was somewhat skeptical about my choices and what I was doing. In all honesty, when I got to Utila for the first week or two, I very much questioned the choice I had made. It was overwhelming to me to think that I had come to live in this place for three months. Over the course of my stay, Frank, Dick, Helen, Morna, Marvin, Niv, Sam, and you eventually left me asking the question 'what took me so long to get here?'
For the first few weeks I was here, Dick did such an incredible job helping me make the transition to life on Utila. As my stand-in mentor while Frank was on leave, the knowledge that I absorbed from being around Dick was almost overwhelming. I felt that the Divemaster course was tremendously well put together with lectures, scheduling, and staff involvement that made the process seamless. Granted, I have not done a divemaster course anywhere else, but truthfully, I can't imagine it being any more professionally conducted.
Frank took over where Dick left off when he returned from leave. It is hard for me to imagine meeting a more ideal 'whole system' role model than Frank. Simply by observing day to day operations of the shop and how Frank handled them was incredibly informative, but I feel that in my day to day interactions with Frank, I gained more real world knowledge about diving and life than I thought possible.
I was so grateful to have such incredible support and empathy that it really made me feel like I was part of the family. While I have so much gratitude to Frank and Morna for taking a chance on me and putting me to work so that I could gain experience as a divemaster, I must say that I will always wish that I had been able to do my IDC here with my new UDC family.
After (and while) completing my DMT, I tried to work with as many different instructors as possible on course assists. Granted, I have only really worked with instructors here, but I do have some experience with three other instructors: my OW, AOW, and RESCUE instructors, and I must say, the teaching ability, professionalism, and overall knowledge and delivery of diving skills is far superior here than anything I have seen before. Niv, Marvin, and Sam are incredible people and there ability as instructors has influenced me greatly to continue on this path for the future.
I would be doing a disservice if I also didn't mention Josiah to you. While I didn't understand Josiah at first when I was given the opportunity to help out on the Old Tom, he quickly taught me the skills, attitude, and intricate workings of working in a resort type setting. His uncanny ability to connect with customers and his desire to provide the best service possible hopefully rubbed off on me for my future endeavors.
I honestly wish I would have been able to postpone graduate school, because I seriously considered it when I found out about this option over the last week or so. However, risking giving up a tuition scholarship is not something I can gamble with, so, tomorrow, I will go.
Thank you and your staff for everything you have done for me. I will never forget this experience as long as I live and I know that it will provide the most solid foundation with which to continue my diving career. I honestly hope that if the time is right in the future and you are looking for help at UDC you will consider me because I feel honored and privileged to have been a part of the UDC family and hope that perhaps one day in the future I can be again.
I will miss my new family. If you could please pass on this email to Marvin, Morna, Niv, and Sam, I would greatly appreciate them knowing how much of an impact they have made on my life.
Take care of yourself and best of luck in your future.
Justin Martens 30th Nov 2009
Rescue to Divemaster course
I Trust you are well and had a successful dive show. I just thought I would share an email (below) with you that I received following a day I worked with some AI candidates at a local (Leicester) dice centre. This was my first 'freelance' staffing work and delivered a day of knowledge development evaluation, the teaching in confined water lecture and subsequent candidate CW presentations. I just wanted to let you know that the quality of the content and evaluation I was able to successfully provide was directly due to the time spent with you and Ed during the IDC's in January and February.
Thanks again Andy
Trust you had a good evening out !! Just a quickie to say thanks for your sterling help today with the AI candidates, you certainly were in at the deep end. Both Em and I were really impressed with your knowledge and professionalism, it was extremely useful to us to have access to your experience and input. I am sure the students will have benefited immensely from your direction and advice and be better prepared for the IDC as a result. It was great for us to have you with us for the day and that you were clearly able to take up the challenge and work totally independently. Thanks once again, hope you feel you would be prepared to join us again for more punishment, and have a super time in Florida next week.'
Chris Aquatechnique Scuba School
IDC Staff Instructor training
2nd Nov 2009
I just wanted to take a quick opportunity to touch base with you. I was in Utila for about 3 weeks in June, while you were gone. I decided, when I got off the ferry the first day, to go ahead and get my Divemaster. I was pretty busy with some Spanish classes, but with the help of the staff there, I was able to get everything done. I am sure you know this, but your staff is wonderful. As a school administrator I work with a lot of teachers/instructors. The level of professionalism and care provided by your staff is remarkable. I could talk about many of those that I worked with (Dick, Frank, Jessie, Anna, etc.), but in particular Dick and Frank made it possible for me to complete everything in less than 3 weeks while 2 of those weeks my mornings were filed with Spanish Classes.
Jeff Anger USA 22 July 2009 Divemaster course
Hi everybody !!!
As you may have noticed already, I have left Utila on saturday June 27th. I had to go back to Canada and carry on with the numerous adventures that are awaiting me. I just wanted to say thank you very much to Andy, Ed and every staff from UDC as I realize I got a high level of tuition during my IDC and MSDT internship. I am very grateful for all the opportunities you have given me, including working as an AI alongside the wonderful rotational instructors. I had an amazing time during the April 2009 IDC and I will never forget the great team we were, it's been something special... I hope everything is going well for all of you after the 'coup d'etat' in Honduras and that tourists are still coming in everyday. I had and will continue to spread the word of the professionalism and high level of tuition that UDC provides so people can realize how great of a place it is to go pro. Next time I'll be teaching it will be in New-Zealand by the end of the year, I'm so looking forward to it !!! So goodbye everybody, all the best for the present and the future and enjoy every second of your life on this wonderful Earth (and underwater of course !).
Aurelien Jondeau 3rd July 2009
Instructor course with MSDT internship
I wanted to let you know I had a great experience and appreciate the professionalism of your team.
Angel is especially a credit and one of the most incredible instructors/director's I've had the fortune to meet. I had hoped to chat with before leaving, but didn't get the opportunity. Would it be possible to obtain his email address so I can thank him directly.
Thank you again and I wish you continued success.
Harley Milne 25th May 2009
Instructor crossover to PADI
I wanted to say thank you for informing me about Utila Dive Centre and Utila. It was such a great experience and I had so much fun, I accomplished so much more then I can imagine. If you would have told me that I would have become an instructor I would have laughed, even though it was such a challenge and rewarding experience, it was a lot of fun.
Rescue to Instructor course with MSDT internship