Born and raised below sea level in the Netherlands, Eline Juliette Feenstra (22), has been selected as the European Rolex Scholar for 2008/2009.
At the moment Eline is majoring in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, and will be awarded her undergraduate degree before the Scholarship starts in April 2008.
In 2005 she conducted her PADI Divemaster course, and in 2006 she became qualified as a TDI Extended Range Technical Diver with almost 200 open water dives under her belt.
After finishing secondary school and during her philosophy studies she travelled independently and extensively throughout India and Nepal. In India she volunteered at a local school and orphanage for unprivileged children. Due to her love of diving and the underwater world, she lived the most part of 2006 in Egypt to enable her to be near the ocean. She speaks three European languages including Dutch (native) English and French.
Eline has a major affection for nature, science and travelling. Her education included a broad variety of subjects, amongst others physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology, economics and politics. Thanks to her travelling she experienced many foreign cultures, languages and different ways of life. Philosophy extends and relates her knowledge of science and life into a broader perspective.
Being fascinated at the age of six by marine life, she created her own little ecosystem in the backyard pond. Maintaining water quality and a small fish population she became aware of how delicate and precious marine life is. On the age of 16 Eline started scuba diving in the Netherlands. Taking her first breaths underwater determined the future that lies ahead of her, a future in which diving will remain an active part of her life and career is no longer in doubt.
Diving relates her to our underwater world. ‘Being underwater relaxes me, and takes away the stress of time and the course of everyday life in our modern society.’ But diving is also a way for me to experience and to gain knowledge about marine life and the environment.’ Eline would like to extend her diving skills through practice, technical dive courses and specialties such as videography, ice diving and cave diving. She hopes that she can contribute and participate in research and expeditions one day with these qualities.
Eline’s main interest is helping to preserve the underwater world through the education of others. Acutely aware of current global environmental problems and passionate about marine conservation, she would like to pursue education and understanding. Her main interest concerns the fishing industry, especially the effect on the well being of whales, sharks and tuna. ‘It stresses me everyday that the well being of the oceans and the life of her inhabitants are at stake; we need to globally interact! The great thing is that there are people fighting everyday to preserve our natural world, but we have come to understand that this will not be enough. We need the whole world to act upon these problems. Though awareness is rising through research, documentaries and public discussions, it is difficult for people around the world to grasp the problems, and solutions. And it is solutions, that we drastically need.’
For Eline the Scholarship will endow her with valuable experience and help her to gain knowledge in great depth to anticipate the well being of the marine ecosystems. The OWUSS is her ticket and ‘masters degree’ to becoming an active and passionate member of the natural world.
Eline is more than grateful and honoured to be chosen as the 2008 European Rolex Scholar. And she hopes to be a valuable ambassador for the beautiful world below the sea.