Jenny Jara is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) in the Philippines and a 2017 winner of PADI’s Inspiring Women contest for People + Community. Ethel Tornberg nominated Jenny, and after reading Ethel’s story about Jenny, we had to know more. Read on for the contest-winning entry from Ethel and our interview with Jenny.
Ethel’s Contest Entry:
Jenny walked into the dive centre with a three-month-old son, Hugo, in a baby carrier in search of any job. She juggled being a single parent & a dive centre secretary while working her way up through PADI education until she became an MSDT. Fifteen years and more than 500 certifications later, she still continues to inspire and uplift locals in the community especially young girls & women with her success story. Everyday she shares her passion in diving & marine conservation with her students and divers from all over the world. Baby Hugo? He’s a young man now who is a Junior AOW diver & dreams of being a pilot.
How did you end up working at a dive shop?
I was an Advanced Open Water Diver, and I came to the island of Boracay around the end of 2002 to start a new life. I was a single parent and needed a job to support my little son who was just 7-months-old. I inquired in several bars and restaurants, anywhere that might be able to hire me immediately. In one of the restaurants, I met a woman who told me to inquire at a dive center around a hundred meters away. At the time, I didn’t know she was the owner of the dive center! I gratefully went over and applied for the position as a dive center secretary. A few days later, I was invited to a job interview and hired to start the following day.
While working in the dive center, I went from Advanced Open Water to PADI Divemaster. It took about two years, I finished in 2004 – that was the year my career as a professional diver started. By 2011 I was a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer.
Ethel Tornberg nominated you for the award. How do you know each other?
The woman I mentioned above, the dive center owner who gave me the job, was Ethel Tornberg. I am thankful to her for giving me the job opportunity and for introducing me to diving. Over 15 years of working together at WaterColors Boracay Dive Resort, we’ve had a successful business relationship.
Tell us how you inspire other women to dive…
Unfortunately, there are more men than women who inquire about learning how to dive. I take every opportunity especially with couples to encourage the woman to try it out as well. I think because I’m a woman it provides comfort and encouragement to women to go ahead and try scuba.
Diving is for anyone who wants to change their way of living, relax, meditate, meet friends or simply have fun. One example that comes to mind: I had two students with a 60-year age difference. One was an older lady who doubted she could still be able to learn something new. The other was an 8-year old girl who was very brave and enjoyed diving as if it were playing. Both became Open Water Divers.
What inspires you to strive for ocean protection?
Marine conservation is very important to keep earth’s ecosystem in balance. Endangered species, especially sharks, require special attention. The shark fin has become a delicacy in various Asian countries, making those animals a commodity. But without sharks, the marine ecosystem falls apart. Each of us, divers and non-divers, all humans should be responsible for Mother Earth and the environment we live in.
How do you inspire others in the community to care more about the environment?
I worry about the future. The amount of plastic we produce and use has reached a threatening level for all living things. I try to be an encouraging example of how to care about the environment for my family, friends and others who have yet to be convinced.
Whenever I see someone polluting the environment, I try to educate them about protecting the environment. I regularly participate in beach and underwater cleanups and invite people to see with their own eyes how serious the situation is. Not just the volume of plastic per person that’s produced every day, but also the CO2 emission in the world, especially in Asia.
When or how did you know that you could make the world better through diving?
Diving changed my life and I’ve seen its positive influence on other people. Diving communities take care of underwater life and teach others to take care of each other and our environment. A scuba diving mindset brings people together and gives you an understanding of how to make the world a better one.
Tell us something you learned after becoming a diver or instructor?
As a diver you find out how immense the world is and how small humans are in reality in comparison to the infinity of the ocean. Unfortunately, climate change and global warming are affecting our ocean, and it’s sad to see it and think it won’t get any better. If you go diving at the same dive site every year, you witness changes like coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is an indicator of water temperatures that are too high and when the corals die, so does the marine life it supports.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5-10 years?
I would like to reach another level in diving, either as a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, or by becoming a biologist. But first of all I want to stay happy and healthy together with my loving family.
My PADI is… my instrument to reach as many people as possible and introduce them to a new exciting lifestyle called scuba diving and to reach a vast network of ocean lovers and protectors who are caring for marine life.
My Hope is…that humans live their lives on land with as little impact on the environment as possible.
My Ocean is…precious and beautiful, yet fragile. We must all protect it the best way we can.
On Women’s Dive Day, 15 July 2017, you can celebrate Jenny and other women in diving by taking part in an event, or inviting the special lady in your life to try diving. Follow the fun on social media with the hashtag #PADIWOMEN.