How I Became a Shark Saver: Jenny Chin

Posted on August 17, 2012
Written by: Jenny Chin
Tags: How I Became a Shark Saver 

jennyChin.jpgWhat is your name? Jenny Chin

Where are you from? Kuala Lumpur, West Malaysia

What’s your favorite shark? The Hammerhead shark

When did you know you wanted to help save sharks? My husband Kirk Lee started a facebook group Save Our Sharks From A Bowl of Soup in March 2010. He taught me about the whole shark fin issue, and since then I've been reading up on the topic.  I was alarmed when I discovered how the disappearance of sharks can destroy the ocean's ecosystem and how that relates to us.

Why did you become involved with Shark Savers? My husband and I, together with a few other friends with the same love for sharks, decided we would continue our work to protect sharks in Malaysia under the umbrella of Shark Savers.

What do you do to make a difference for sharks? Kirk and I are focusing on public awareness and education. Kirk did a PSA involving Malaysian celebrities, which was released on YouTube and later broadcast on our national television channel. I have been more of a support to him until December 2011 when we had an opportunity to do our very first public children's event at a very popular shopping mall.  

Jenny_Chin_at_her_puppet_show_presentation_in_Malaysa.jpgCan you describe the puppet show you created, how you came up with the idea, and the impact it has on the kids?

When we were approached by Voila Pte Ltd, a children's publication company, to do a children's event featuring one of Disney's Finding Nemo characters with a shark conservation theme, we just jumped at the opportunity without even knowing what to do! But I was very excited and started planning.

Back in my hometown, I used to be very actively involved in Children's Church programs, where it's like a full-fledged church service but for children. We would have all kinds of fun things for kids, and puppet shows is one of them. So I started searching for shark education materials for kids on YouTube and I found this: It was spot on! I must give credit to this clip because I was able to write my puppet script based on a few key points from this original clip. 

jennyatSeafood.jpgMy puppet show storyline is about a guest shark puppet that comes on stage to say hello to the kids. But when he appears on stage he starts shouting in pain because there's a hook stuck to his mouth. He goes on to tell the audience that some fishermen were trying catch him for his fins and he overheard the fishermen saying it was for shark fin soup. He then cries and laments on what would happen if he got caught. The script also includes information about how sharks are disappearing from the ocean, and how we should protect sharks by saying no to shark fin soup. 

It's great to see that kids these days still enjoy puppet shows! (I have to thank Sesame Street for this!) The kids' reaction to the shark puppet is funny and endearing. It is such a great educational tool. When I said that in many parts of the oceans of the world there are no more sharks, one girl, about 7 years-old, looked at me wide-eyed and in shock, and mouthed the words "..that's terrible"!

On several occasions I've heard gasps and whispers in the crowd when I said this same line. On another occasion, after the show I allowed a child to play with the puppet, and he then tried to 'bite' his cousin (age 5) with the puppet.  His cousin's reply was "Sharks don't like eating people!" which was part of the script. The best part is that in many of these shows, the children's parents are also there watching and listening, and if they're not, the kids will definitely talk about what they've learned once they go home. Reaching the children will ultimately reach the adults.


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