Every single aspect of this project impacts its community directly. The minute that we provide them with payment, they send that money all over the community: to build schools, to provide supplies for volunteer lessons, to pay for taxis, food donations, and so much more. With the Green Lion in this village the local economy has gone up by 75 times.
I feel like I could have made a larger impact with this project had I had a larger community of people dedicated to the same goal/project. You see, I was the sole Environmental Educator in this organization for two weeks, as well as the only one with a scientific background. So, in witnessing pesticide spraying, trash burning, inappropriate segregation of waste, I had little say in how the foundations practices were conducted. I say this because when volunteers wanted to provide the students with treats, we could not, because with the implementation of the healthcare program at the Green Lion it would be hypocritical to hand out sweets to students. Do you see my point? The large Healthcare program has a bigger impact on the community than the minuscule Environmental program. This isn’t to put blame on the Green Lion however, this is more of a reflection on Bali’s environmental waste initiatives (minus the use of chemicals on landscaping).
All of these things have been a challenge, however I did not come here to criticize the Green Lion or fix Bali, I came to challenge myself. I wanted to teach so that I could test that skill set and learn how to be more impactful in policy and the Environmental activist community. That I did, I learned that I do not have the independent brainstorming capability to design and develop teaching opportunities to young people. To be fair, I did not speak their language (even though I was able to learn a functional amount of Indonesian) and I do not know their history with Environmental knowledge; it became clear over time that most of the students in my classes had an understanding of most of the things I was trying to teach them, things such as: air pollution, water pollution, plant health, trash burning, and more. This provided challenges on their own because how could I then challenge them to expand their knowledge base? Now I know what you’re thinking: did the Green Lion not provide a curriculum to follow? Well you would be right in asking, because they did. They gave me a book that included dozens of lessons that I could teach them in order for them to get to know their environment better. However, the lessons largely included things like crude oil, and sustainable energy amperage. I struggled to develop workable lessons with those concepts when I did not have a translator with me the entire time. It was not until I finally had a partner on the project that I finally felt like I had some direction that did not feel completely overwhelming, this was after two weeks. Prior to that I had tried watering plants, making fly traps, picking up trash (that barely made an impact), and planting plants. Afterwards, we did environmental bingo, scavenger hunts, relay races, paper recycling, and poster making. I persevered, but it did not feel as effective as it could have been.
Through all of this, I genuinely just wanted to quit. Seeing all of the other programs that were offered, like construction, turtle conservation, English teaching, and even adventure weeks, I just wanted to move on. I am proud of my perseverance; with only missing two days due to travel plans and visa renewal, I got through four weeks of environmental education teaching in Bali, Indonesia to students that barely speak my language. This was my expectation, along with sleeping in a dorm.
I would recommend this program to others, absolutely. The Green Lion is a phenomenal program in Bali, with its only downfall being not properly providing information to Global Nomadic for those that sign up through them. The Green Lion opens up opportunities to meet other solo travelers in Bali, which allows you to have more cost efficient adventures (being that these activities are not funded by the Green Lion, but ourselves) around the island. For instance, there were several instances where on the weekend 3-5 girls, including myself, would rent out villas around indonesia and experience something none of us would do on our own, such as: swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with sea turtles, jumping off of waterfalls, exploring rice fields, going to the beaches in Uluwatu, all of which have commutes upwards of three hours to get there. I’ve seen some unforgettable things with these people and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Ultimately, you just need to jump.