Friday, March 1, 2013

An environmental service trip

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. The simple motion of going to school early in the morning can become such a vortex of much needed concentration that often I don’t even think about anything other than the continuous stream of homework and tests that pile up. But the perpetual cycle of school does not change the true facts: the environment still needs saving! I hope I’ll be able to post more regularly from now on.

I have a couple of things I want to cover over the next couple of days, so here is the first topic!

Interim Semester – Summit to Sea Service in Bali

Our school, SAS, has a week in February that is dedicated to out of classroom learning. Each high school student selects a trip they feel suits their interests and I chose a service trip to Bali. With our sponsors, Ms. Began and Mr. Crawford and the group Ecofieldtrips, we did a variety of activities that helped give back to the South East Asian community. We toured Eco Bali’s spice and vegetable gardens, filled with bamboo and other verdant plant life. We also walked through the cool caves that once served as irrigation tunnels for the rice paddies. We hiked up Mt. Batur, the most active volcano in Bali in time for the sun rise and experienced the wonders of Ubud’s monkey forest.

Bamboo in Bali 
The heart of the trip, however, lies in the work we did on Nusa Penida Island and on Side-by-Side Organic Farm. Nusa Penida is a relatively uninhabited, small island that captures the bucolic charm that portrays Asia before the industrial boom of the late 1980s. The island is home to a center of the Friends of the National Park Foundation, where we stayed in tents for several days and nights. The foundation focuses on the rehabilitation and reintroduction of the endangered Bali Starling, a beautiful bird endemic to the islands of Bali. We went on early treks along the paved  roads lined by wild vegetation in the pouring rain to spot these birds and learn about traditional Balinese culture. Over two days, we planted approximately 250 palm trees along the roads of Nusa Penida, went snorkeling to see the vibrant and undamaged coral reefs, helped manage the nursery and had a camp bonfire on the beach. It was a phenomenal experience; we grew aware of our plastic and electricity usage and especially appreciated the open, unpolluted skies.

The last two days of the trip were spent at an organic farm called “Side-by-Side.” The farm tries to mitigate the harsh consequences of using pesticides and herbicides, such as the eutrophication of lakes, by using natural fertilizers such as compost; run by an American woman named Pamela Tibbs, Side-by-Side includes local farmers in its quests to making farming a more sustainable practice. The intense manual labor included weeding the plots of land, creating beds for the vegetables, helping with building a green house, and assist in the process of making liquid compost. Although the work was overwhelming at first, with our fingers fatigued from holding the tools so tightly and our faces muddy as dirt mixed with mud in the humid Bali climate, I really enjoyed the gardening. Knowing that our efforts would be put to good use, one which was cognizant of the sometimes harmful impacts of farming on the environment was enthralling. I hope someday I will go back and show my family what we worked on and see how far it has come along; I also now want to encourage people to go for the organic products. While a tomato grown on a farm like Side-by-Side may not be as shiny and plump as that grown on an herbicide, chemical fertilizer, and pesticide using farm, the organically grown tomato is healthier for you and the planet.

Going into the grocery store may seem like a nonchalant, quotidian action but what all of us need to realize is that the purchasing of the locally grown, organic tomato actually supports a wider network of people trying to make a difference in the world.

Think green, no matter where you are!

What to look forward to next:
Global Issues Network and – are you doing the simple actions that matter? 


  1. A side of Bali one never are an inspiration Ramita.

  2. I wish I was there.

    Keep up the good work!!

  3. Y.V.Ramana
    Congrats Ramita for the successful field visit to Bali.
    Your write-up clearly reflects your tastes in preserving our
    mother planet GREEN. Your concise exposition of the visit
    is an indicator of the satisfaction derived.
    Good work. Keep going with your interests.

  4. Great expression Ramita. Go Green!