Being both a doctor of physiology and a diver, June Luhulima’s journey of exploration is never ending. Today she talks about her experience as a participant in the world diving record set at Sail Bunaken 2009, understanding how our bodies work and her recent volunteer work in Padang.
What did you study and what exactly do you do for a living?
I learned physiology; it’s the logic of life, understanding how your body works. I earned my degree from Christian University of Indonesia (UKI). I enjoy learning about how the body works while exercising, diving or being exposed to hot or cold weather. Today, I consult and teach, specifically in relation to diving. I was a consultant for a Kempo martial arts team when it won two National Games’ [PON] competitions. I worked with the trainers to enhance the performance of athletes by giving them accurate calculations for their training programs, workouts and nutrition.
What organizations are you involved in?
I’m a member of the Association of Maritime Doctors [Perdok-LA], an organization that focuses on the condition of people that live and work near the sea, such as fisherman or divers, and also the All-Indonesia Sport Diving Association [Possi], as chairman of its research and development commission. The two associations collaborate to teach the proper way to dive and the dangers, and I’m involved with both organizations.
How long have you been diving?
Since 1976. It’s my hobby and I’ve always been interested in learning what happens to our bodies underwater. I was a dive instructor before I got my degree, that’s why I focused on underwater physiology at school.
Where have you dived, and where is your favorite place?
In the Banda Sea, Manado, Thousand Islands, Kalimantan, Bali, Ambon, Lombok and many other places. The Banda Sea is my favorite because there’s a straight drop off a cliff face and the fish are much more beautiful than any other place I’ve been to.
The world diving record was broken at Sail Bunaken 2009, and you were a part of that. Tell us about it.
We planned it in 2008 and it became an event for everyone, including the Navy, tourists and dive clubs. Our marine territory in Indonesia is vast and we were concerned because that there weren’t as many divers as before. Our mission was to attract a younger generation of divers and have them consider jobs related to the ocean and underwater themes. We had 2,486 divers and zero accidents.
What are the benefits of diving?
Well for me personally, going underwater really helps me to be more creative, clear my head and fuel my imagination. So if you are stressed, I really recommend it. Also, when you’re breathing underwater from a tank, you’re breathing six times more oxygen than on land. It’s good for your skin and it helps you to look younger [laughs].
When and where is the next big diving event?
Sail Banda Sea is coming up in 2010. This time we’re aiming to get instructors involved. However, in nearby Ambon we’re going to have other activities and competitions like underwater photography and underwater orientation, so everyone can join in.
Is there anything that you take from the ocean and adapt to your everyday life?
Yes, the way I dress. The color coordination of my clothes is inspired by the sea. Like the fish in the ocean, if its white and grey with a yellow tail, I try to wear the same colors. For example, I would wear a white blouse, with a black skirt, yellow scarf and a grey belt.
Can you compare the human body and the ocean?
Well, the fact is that the body is a universe in itself. Sometimes, when I teach, I show two different pictures, one taken underwater and one of a human body under the microscope. My students can’t tell the difference.
You just came back from Padang, how was that experience?
I went with friends from the Global Rescue Network two days after the earthquake. I was chosen because they had medicine but no doctors. We were sent to Padang Pariaman, since the bigger cities were already provided for. When we arrived there was no rescue station, no leadership and conditions were bad. The central government was not there to organize and there were no specific instructions. The other rescue teams just went in and out of the area, dropping off food. But what the people really needed was to restore the water supply and construct toilets and a public kitchen. That’s what we did and we stayed with the locals until everything was ready.
Did the money from Jakarta get distributed properly?
There is more than one door. For example, one of the TV stations provided food and medicine with donations from viewers, but I didn’t see anyone coordinating the distribution properly. They just gave everything away as they traveled for good photo opportunities. The government should assign each organization to focus on one area to rebuild schools, mosques and build basic facilities.
How do you feel about living in Jakarta?
I like the rhythm, everything is at a fast pace. But it no longer suits me because I have asthma. Travelling abroad or going out of town is like servicing your car every couple of months, I do it to recharge my batteries whenever I’ve had enough of the city. And when I return, I’m motivated, I have new ideas.
June was talking to Iwan Putuhena
Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe
My Jakarta: June Luhulima, Diver and Doctor
Picture Courtesy of June Luhulima