As a student in Green School High School and having done my fair share of travelling, I can tell you firsthand that our teachers offer us some of the most unique, fun and wacky classes in the world. Whether it be stop-motion animation and graffiti in the art room, feminist film theory for Media, game creation for English, Arabian nights for Drama, plant porno in Science (yes, a little risqué), or curry and colonialism for History—we have it. This semester, I’m taking an Environmental Studies course called Biopiracy. We’ve looked at loss of biodiversity, saving seed species, GMO giants like Monsanto, and even attended a conference featuring environmental activist, anti-globalisation advocate, and author of 20 books, Dr. Vandana Shiva (click here to read my Devil Plays God article).
For our final project, I chose to be in a group with four other students and propagate fruit trees around Green School campus. We each focused on our strengths and worked as a community, with a collective goal of having successfully planted 25 trees in less than two weeks of physical work. Together, we researched fruiting plants indigenous to Bali and chose everything from sugarcane to durian, the incredibly spikey and pungent fruit (so much so that it’s been banned from airports.) We went on a short fieldtrip to Bumiku, a perennial garden beside campus that provides produce for restaurants across the island, and sought out inspiration for our own project. Tummies full of pesticide-free, sunset coloured tomatoes, we sent in the proposal to our EM teacher and got down and dirty in the garden. While two other members in the group grew guava and took cuttings from their friends’ orchards, I started germinating three different species of passion fruit seed at home, along with mangosteen (the Queen of all fruits) and mango.
My Dad has always been quite the botanist, infatuated with all things florae from the young age of six. I grew up as more of a fauna kinda gal’, but Green School has since made my passion for the environment flourish to new extremes. Just three weeks ago, after Dr. Shiva’s talk, I found my outlook on seeds shifting. Rather than naively perceiving seeds as basic gene-carriers that clutter fruit, I could suddenly appreciate them as little bundles of life that signified beginnings and opportunity. Upon cracking open the protective casing of a mango seed, it was impossible not to notice the astonishing resemblance to a human embryo. In my hand, I was holding the start of something very special. Our propagation project required a lot of nurture toward our plants, the whole process similar to caring for young children. We have gone through major trial and error, but so far, our babies are looking happy and healthy.
At multiple points throughout the course, I couldn’t help but contemplate how immensely lucky I was to be attending the most unique and interesting school on the planet (Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, said it for himself.) Nowhere else would high school students be directing a fruit tree propagation project, designing and constructing a perennial garden, building bamboo pods, wrestling in mud pits, meeting the UN Sec General, climbing mountains, trekking through lava fields, or simply love going to school; all the while supported by teachers who are passionate and take immense pleasure in educating students with their own expertise. I mean, who wouldn’t, when you get to work in a bamboo playground on a daily basis?
My parents are continuously expressing their envy toward my education, and with good reason. Across the globe, every student should be propagating their own mango trees, and starting up businesses selling perennial herbs from their garden. Every student deserves a Green education. So often, we perceive the way in which education is carried out to be insignificant. Conventional schooling sucks the creativity out of young souls; it drills into the budding minds of change makers that they must mend themselves in order to fit into our mundane society. Holistic learning celebrates children and teaches them to take a hands on approach, while conscious of the familiar beings and precious environment around them. This is why, if the rest of the world hasn’t caught up with Green Schools by the time I start to age, the only place I will be enrolling my kids is where I am, right now.