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Bear with me as I meander once again down memory lane. I’ll start with me, but I’ll end with the most important person in our relationship: You.

I want to tell you the story of how I became a motorcycle safety instructor.

When I first arrived in Victoria, I wanted to find meaningful work. You see, I had this brand-spanking-new piece of paper in my hand that had two very important letters on it: M and A.

As long as the potential employer didn’t ask me the topic of my thesis (the representation of gender through cross-dressing in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene), I figured I had a pretty good shot at finding respectable work. After all, I could write, analyze, problem-solve, lead and make people laugh.

Unfortunately, it was a rather sombre era of cutbacks and belt-tightening (little did I know it was a two-decade-long drought), so I settled for writing citrus-sucking bone-dry technical manuals for programmers. Sigh.

Clearly, I had to find meaning on the edges of my life.

I kept on perusing the classifieds, hoping that somewhere, somebody would need someone like me.

Never once though, did I come across that one ad that said, “Wanted. Fabulous woman, great communicator, excellent role-model, passionate about non-traditional things.”

So, as with most good things in life, I had to set out to find it for myself.

What did I love? Well, I just got off the motorbike, having completed my first six-week solo coast-to-coast Canada crossing. I love riding. And my own personal disappointment was that way back when I took the Canada Safety Council course in Ottawa, there were no female instructors. So why not become that instructor that I desired to have back then?

OK, so a major setback was that I hated public speaking. I’d get sweaty palms and bass-booming heart palpitations if I so much as had to say my name at an office meeting. But I figured I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

I leafed through the Yellow Pages (yep, it was that long ago) and found what I was looking for: under the motorcycle section, there in small bold print, was the phone number for the Vancouver Island Safety Council.

I picked up my black rotary dial phone and spoke with a very vibrant Barb Lohrmann, the chief instructor then in charge of instructor candidate training. The rest, as they say, is history. In my near-decade there, I went from being an Instructor Candidate, to becoming a Canada Safety Council-certified Chief, to taking over for Barb.

OK, so enough about me. This is where you come in.

If you want to give back to the riding community, and if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of becoming an instructor, let me give you the background that I didn’t have when I got started. Maybe, just maybe, you too will find your calling here.

There are two stages to go through here in B.C. There’s the ICBC-paperwork phase, and then there’s the get-certified-at-a-school phase.

First, phase one, the ICBC phase.

To begin with, you must meet these ICBCs requirements:

  • no outstanding ICBC debts;
  • relatively clean driving record;
  • three years riding experience;
  • at least 19 years old.

Then, you need to cough up some cash to pay for the following forms:

  • an ICBC medical evaluation form, to be completed by your family doctor;
  • the ICBC Driver Training Instructor’s Licence application form;
  • a criminal record check.

Lastly, you need to attend an ICBC-certified training school.

Enter into phase two.

Here on the Island we have two certifying schools: Saferway and the Vancouver Island Safety Council.

Both the Vancouver Island Safety Council and Saferway offer top-notch motorcycle instructor training programs. Each offers something unique, with the fundamental difference being that Saferway provides a portable instructor certificate at a cost, and the Vancouver Island Safety Council provides training to its employees, for a small refundable deposit.

If you want to teach at the Safety Council, you’ll take one avenue; if you want portability to teach at other schools, you’ll take the other.

For more information on these programs, go to the websites at saferway.com and visafetycouncil.com.

If you are passionate about riding motorcycles and about motorcycle safety, and are looking for meaningful work on the edges of your life, perhaps it’s time that you considered contributing in an extremely meaningful way, in a way that impacts lives and enhances personal enjoyment for both yourself and others.

Become an instructor, have fun, educate the masses and, most importantly, contribute to the enjoyment of living.

If you want to contact Saferway, call Amy Davies at 250-385-8212.

For the Safety Council, you can talk to Bill Laughlin at 250-478-9584.

– Britt Santowski

Britt Santowski is a former chief instructor with the Vancouver Island Safety Council, where she trained instructors and taught riders for almost a decade. Santowski is also a workshop facilitator, speaker, consultant and author.

britt[at]imallowed[dot]com

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One Response to “Teaching is the best way to give back”

  1. on 11 Feb 2011 at 5:16 pmT. PI.

    Response received by email

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    Hi Britt, just returned from a holiday in various parts of Italy and now know why there are literally thousands of scooters and only a very few motorcycles! The reason is that if one drove a motorcycle rather than a scooter, one wouldn’t be able to change gear and talk on the cell phone at the same time and of course not wearing a helmet either. Still enjoying your articles, regards, T. PI.

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