Bonjour Catherine Parent! The French Canadian dance teacher who’s fanatical about diving.
What do you prefer to be called?
Nobody can pronounce my name properly because I’m French Canadian and my name should be pronounced Katerine with the rolling ‘r’, but since nobody can say that, most people just call me Cat.
So Cat, where were you before Jakarta?
I lived in Lebanon and Singapore and I also spent one year in Jakarta previously teaching English.
What do you teach and how long have you been here at Jakarta International School?
I am the dance teacher and this is my fifth school year, so four years in total at JIS.
What kind of dance do you teach?
All sorts! Ballet, modern, contemporary, street jazz (or as the kids like to call it, ‘hip hop’) and even swing dancing.
Do you enjoy your job?
I love it and I love it here at JIS. I mean look around you. What other campus in this city has so much greenery?
It is a great campus. I hear you’re also a diving instructor here?
Yes, I’ve been teaching diving for 6 years and I certify the students and sometimes their parents.
How often do you go on holiday?
Any time we have 3 days or more off, I try to leave Jakarta and get back to nature. Occasionally I do the opposite and fly to Singapore to experience the real city feel.
Where have the best dives been for you so far in Indonesia?
Hmm… I’d say Raja Ampat, Komodo Island and Wakatobi in Sulawesi for reef diving and the Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi for muck diving. This is where you don’t see beautiful coral, but you find weird and wonderful creatures like the mimic octopus.
Where’s next on the agenda?
I’ve got Menjangan Island in North Bali, Ambon and Pulau Weh coming up.
Pulau Weh? Where is this?
It’s a small active volcanic island to the northwest of Sumatra. The fish species variation here is very rich I’m told, so I’m looking forward to this dive.
How do you like to travel?
I prefer travelling alone as you tend to be more open to experiencing the culture this way. I find if I’m eating dinner alone in a restaurant, waiters will chat to me and offer me guides or help. I also like to have two aspects to my trips – the cultural and intense side and the diving side where you don’t have to think. It’s a good combination.
Should travelling be a relaxing experience?
No, travelling isn’t supposed to be relaxing at all. You learn and grow from it, challenging yourself constantly. When you travel you learn what you’re prepared to deal with and what you’re not. It’s very eye-opening.
Do you have any tips for travelling in Indonesia?
Practice patience and know that whatever you may have planned, be prepared to improvise and go with the flow. Unplanned events tend to be more fun anyway. I’d definitely say that learning the language helps because people respect you more and Indonesians are very forgiving if you make a mistake speaking their language. Also, mention your KITAS when you’re booking hotels because you get a better price – a lot of expats still don’t know this!
Thanks Cat! If you want to talk to Catherine about diving or dancing, email her at email@example.com