Changemakers Now: Green School Student Voices
It feels like I have been in Benoa Harbor more in the past month than I have in the past few years. The first time I visited the old dock was during the mid-term break to board the Peace Boat and the second time was to visit Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior. Both were incredible & interesting journeys on their own.
We spent six days on the Peace Boat with a small Green School delegation that stood out so awkwardly (at first) among the 1000+ all Japanese people. Six days never went by so fast and we never made so many new friendly friends! Waking up every morning to peek out the window and see absolutely nothing other than blue was such an experience. As an ocean advocate, it was a great way to be reminded again of why I do what I do. All kinds of blue, the sky, the ocean – that was all you could see – no land in sight, I mean… What. A. Feeling.
And that was only the beginning of each day as we cruised (I mean literally cruised, as the boat was huge). From Bali, past Singapore to Malaysia, our days were filled with activities. I’m pretty sure I heard that a normal day on board hosts up to 60 events! Events are run by the Peace Boat organization, but people on board are also encouraged to share their knowledge and teachings. So from Yoga classes, we bounced to ballroom classes, we watched a basketball game and even went to the cinema! One of our students from Green School led a capoeira class and brought together a really cool group of people! It was a lot of fun. On top of it all, we also hosted a discussion session on board sharing the many highlights of Green School: Bye Bye Plastic Bags, Green School’s Bio-Bus, Kul Kul Connection, etc – everyone had so many questions, all were so curious having previously toured the school when the boat was docked for the day in Bali.
Mr. Miyagke was one of the many special people we met during our stay on the peace boat. Alongside all the other interesting programmes on board, the Peace Boat also acts as a platform against nuclear weapons. Having a strong Japanese foundation, the boat advocates for a nuclear-free world. We were able to meet and talk to one of the Hibakusha’s, which is the name given to the atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima. He told us about his experience, being sixteen at the time on his way home in the metro – it was a raw and intimate experience. The average age of a Hibakusha is now 80 years old, so you can imagine the authentic voices and stories of that time are becoming less and less. Mr. Miyagke shared with us how he felt, and he said it was important that the youth continued the fight for a world free of nuclear weapons. He believed in us, but he also knew it wasn’t going to be easy or quick.
We also learned about their Ocean Youth Programme – which was very fascinating. At the end of last year, they selected Youth from small island nations who are on the frontlines of climate and ocean change. The Peace Boat hosted them on board and they cruised from Barcelona to New York, making stops in Lisbon, Bordeaux, London, Edinburgh, and Reykjavk – an intense three weeks! These young changemakers where selected because of their incredible efforts to stand up for the oceans back where they come from. You can watch a teaser to the extremely beautiful mini-documentary about the Ocean Youth Programme journey.
And we even got to sneak in some pool time, trust me, my tan is restored!
Our second visit to Benoa Harbor came shortly after and was a little more serious. We, sadly, didn’t leave the dock towards the ocean. However, the Rainbow Warrior is always a sight. When we went to visit, hundreds of others came to see it as well – students, teachers, people from far and wide. We led a group discussion and a workshop amongst lots of other creative solutions and activists on the island. And although it was in the blaring sun, and although we all know the heat has been serious these past few days – climate change confirmed. It is so important that these gatherings happen, bringing together all these fascinating and inspiring people.
I like the idea of boats being that platform: “Sailing for change”. When you’re on a boat, you literally have nowhere else to be than where you are. I felt that so strongly on the six days out at sea, and it was only six days, imagine how your thinking starts to evolve when you stare out the window for over a month, over a year with the only blue to see! I love it! I love it! I love it!
Side note but an important note:
Unfortunately, on both the “blue” visits, I could see plastic in the ocean, all these weird stuff, footballs, flip-flops, plastic bottles, and bags. How does it even get there? Where does your trash end up?
Author: Melati Wijsen, a Green School Graduate, Changemaker, and Co-Founder of global movement Bye Bye Plastic Bags. Watch Bye Bye Plastics Ted Talk. She has been at Green School since it first opened in 2008.