We saw familiar smiley faces looking at us and waving hands from the restaurant window at the diving shop, when we moved to Iriomote Island after the coverage at Ishigaki. They knew us as we were involved with Ishigaki and Iriomote branches during the coverage of Oceana Okinawa remote islands.
Yukko and Mihasu who are new female staff members at the diving shop.
Why are you in Iriomote Island? I haven't seen you for 3 days.In this period at the shop, they gather new staff in their first or second year from Ishigaki and Iriomote branches for training. I met with media team at perfect timing, but it was completely coincidental. Since there are few people who are around the same age as me at diving industry or the location for media coverage, it was a good opportunity to have various conversations. I was looking forward to see underwater as I could not dive at Ishigaki, and was also curious about the training contents.
They give numerous instructions not only to the new staff members but also the guide who manages the training. The female president Ms. Sakiko Oshima gave directions to ladies and guides. (After a new staff fixed the boat to the wharf with a rope). 'Do not trust 100% what the new staff member did! Make sure you check with your own eyes!'
And the owner of the shop, Kichibo (Mr. Kiichi Nakazato), teaches ship maneuvering to new male staff members.
'Look, the stern hit the next boat! Why did you do it, are you stupid? It happens because you are a fool, think about it!''
They might sound harsh but are full of love.The person who was on training was focusing on controlling the boat and did not see Kichibo, but Kichibo's facial expression showed expectations for independence of the staff.
It was my first time to go underwater at Iriomote, but the sea around Ishigaki and Iriomote were completely different considering they are only 1 hour distance apart. Of course there are different kinds of creatures, but especially the color of the ocean in Iriomote and coral reefs are beautiful.
2 female staff members from Ishigaki branch was extremely excited screaming 'Iriomote is so exciting! Truly beautiful!' It is training but they chose the job because of their love of the ocean. They were truly impressed by the beauty of the ocean.
Training is carried out in the style of fun diving, separating members between guides and guests. The guide needs to deal with various issues such as sudden surfacing and disengaged tank, while introducing names of the fish.
Various roles such as a guide, a couple, a silly couple will be given by Oshima before they go in. If they are not assigned to be guides, they just enjoy diving as guests, although they might want to observe the training. As I looked into underwater to see how it was like, I found a funny couple.
With these stories aside, I continued working on web magazine and after 30 minutes, I met the new staff team again downstairs while the boat was making safety stop. They were in the middle of simulation training to deal with issues. After dealing with the person who was swimming with the disengaged tank, the weight got off and the body quickly went up! The person who threw the slate with text 'Nanyouhagi (Dory!)' (Paracanthurus hepatus) and went for rescue was the guide Mihasu from Ishigaki branch. I asked her later 'It was tough, wasn't it?' She answered 'Yes, various things happened at the same time. But I learnt a lot and it was fun!' with a big smile.
There were even less fish but we were surrounded by a school of bluefin trevally again.
I went back to the shop and asked the new staff Chikako from Iriomote branch 'Was the training tough?'' She replied 'No, it was really fun as I love going underwater!' with a big smile. The reaction made me think that probably they are allowed to say only 'Iti is fun' at the shop? But probably they are honest about it. When I asked if there were any problems or difficult issues, the answer was just silence with some murmur. 'But I still cannot work as a guide taking a lot of guests, and I would like to be able to take more like senior members.'
I asked about the important aspects of training to a senior staff member who manages the process. Satoshi at Ishigaki branch tells: 'Safety first' this is the most important thing at the shop. It is common that new staff members focus too much on introducing fish and forget to look at customers. They could learn other things themselves, but 'providing a happy guide' is another important aspect besides safety. Instead of writing simply 'Clown fish,' it is better if you add 'beautiful color' or 'cute.'
As I told Chikako, who is a new staff member at Iriomote, she replied 'Yes, I was told the same at Iriomote. I introduce Clownfish as 'Clownfish with up-side-down pants' as they do look like that. I was happy that people laughed quite a lot.'
It was easy to understand just visiting for 1 day that they are committed to provide great services by keeping their brand at both Ishigaki and Iriomote branches through a joint staff training and shared curriculum.
The new staff who started in April aim to be independent by early May at Iriomote branch.
The new staff members took either 1 or 2 guests to go into the sea at the beginning, but the number grew to 5 guests by the time we arrived for coverage.
There are 4 new staff members at Iriomote this year including 20 years old woman, and atmosphere is very festive. It was surprising to see many female guides as we have strong image of the male industry. But they are even more powerful than men and it confirmed that women are strong.
We have great expectations for new staff members at the shop who will gain more skills toward summer.
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