A week in Bali Barat National Park in a nature camp organized by Biosphere Youth Stewardship program was honestly the best time spent in my life. First of all, the location is amazing - coming from Estonia and studying in Singapore, I had never seen real mountains or monsoon forest before. I arrived to Bali and the nicest driver Ketut drove us to the national park via routes that go up and down in mountains, between lakes and little villages. It was really interesting and beautiful! And of course the base camp in Bali Barat - wild deer and monkeys in the forest, mangroves and ocean seen from the window, wildlife around us - made the experience even more special. For me, the best part were the people. It was a privilege to learn about Balinese culture, food, dance, language and traditions from the local students who quickly became friends. We had local Indonesian food every meal, the girls told and showed me about traditional Balinese dances and I also had an opportunity to learn that by myself. When we felt like eating coconut, one girl invited us to her farm that is nearby and we just climbed a tree and took fresh coconuts! Also, we visited a local market where our friends told us everything about Balinese fruits and food ingredients. It was unique to learn about Balinese religion by praying with the friends every morning and visiting the temple. I had a chance to learn few words in Balinese and Bahasa from the local students. I still often think about the friends I met during the time in Bali Barat, their enthusiasm and creative thinking inspired me a lot!
Yet, as a nature enthusiast, the most memorable and valuable part during this program was education about ecosystems and everything that our teachers Nono, Sierra, Jake or local people taught us. When we wanted to see corals after having a lesson about the importance of corals in world, they took us to snorkel around Menjangan island, when we listened about life inside the Biosphere 2, we had an opportunity to visit Biosphere Foundation boat Mir and meet with two other inspiring people who have been part of Biosphere 2 project. We learned about sustainable farming by helping a local farmer to plant the crops. We gained knowledge about recycling by making a bag out of used plastic with Nono. The opportunity to not just learn theory but actually to be outside and investigate the ecosystems by ourselves was eye opening. We had many different plays and debates about environmental questions where everyone had a chance to have a say.
Altogether, I am very grateful for the Biosphere Foundation by creating an opportunity for local and overseas students to learn about our world and nature and understand how little changes like switching off the lights or using fabric bags help to protect the Earth and animals by coming together and sharing the same experience.