Amy Lee, Class of 2019
EARCOS Global Citizenship and Biosphere Stewardship Camp Scholarship Awards
TCIS senior, Amy Lee, recently was given the East Asia Regional Council of Schools Global Citizenship Award based on recommendations from TCIS faculty to EARCOS. EARCOS further extended an invitation for this short list of award recipients to apply for a special scholarship award, by application. Of almost 100 exceptional students from all over Asia, Amy was chosen to receive this special Bioshere Stewardship Camp Scholarship Award.
Congratulations, Amy Lee!
EARCOS published this personal account of Amy's experience in their Triannual Journal (Fall 2018):
“Birth in Bali” by Amy Lee, TCIS Class of 2019
For years, I had never once been to summer camp. I used to ask my mother if I could attend one, but the answer was always no, and the reasons were always the same: "How are you going to do well at school having played at camp all summer? Can you guarantee it'll be worth the time, money, and energy it'll take?"
But this summer was different. I received the long-awaited permission of my mother and attended my first summer camp from July 1st to July I 0th. This time, not even she could deny that this was a rare opportunity. Through EARCOS, I was connected with an organization called the Biosphere Foundation, which has held an annual stewardship program in Bali for high schoolers since 2012.The program seemed to be quite unlike any other summer program, because the focus was entirely different. from academic summer camps that are all the rage for high schoolers today. Its goal is to educate youth about implementing environmental conservation programs, restoring important ecosystems, and raising awareness about the world around us in need. After coming back from this trip, I can safely say that I learned everything that the program promised to teach and beyond: for the first time in my sheltered life, I learned to be properly human.
The first way I became a human in the original sense was through the raw and authentic relationships that I formed. There were I 0 international students, I I local Balinese students, and 3 very capable and inspiring instructors. Together, we stayed in the West Bali National Park for IO days. In the program's entire history, this year's crop of students was the most diverse. There were students from Brazil, Wales, Italy, the US, Egypt, Indonesia, and South Korea, my home country. Naturally, with the addition of the Balinese local students, we experienced an immense exchange of cultures across many different continents. We all spoke varying levels of English, so it was difficult for us to even greet each other properly in the beginning. Eventually though, after sweating under the Bali sun together and connecting with the rainforest's natural beauty, we could tell jokes and teach each other our own country customs. By breaking down language barriers, we all bonded with strangers on a humane level, stripped of all nationalities and races.
Another way I regained awareness of my human self was through the unavoidable exposure to nature that came with being in the middle of a national park. Our work through the week ranged from simple acts like cleaning up litter washed up on the shores to more rigorous labor like removing the invasive plant species Lantana from the forests. Later, we had the time to enjoy Bali's ocean as we snorkeled along the coastline of Menjangan Island and witnessed diverse marine life permeating in the breathing coral reefs.
On a more serious note, we also discussed environmental concerns such as the detriments of plastic-fueled consumerism, the endangerment of native species, and the difficulties of wildlife preservation due to tourism through structured roleplay. In addition, the fact that we could obtain these learning experiences within the shelter of the lively, lush, and untouched rainforest made the lessons learned all the more heartfelt and important to us personally. We were human again, in the most primal sense, because for once we were living the simple life, without the technological shortcuts that made our daily lives back home grey and mechanical.
In the end, the Biosphere camp experience was exceptional because it allowed us to learn about nature within the distinct cultural setting of Bali and simultaneously be more in touch with our human side. We could use all our senses to feel and understand nature around us, and thus recognize the rigorous manual work that's needed to undo the automated mistakes we commit against our environment. In IO days, I was reintroduced to my identity as a human being, a friend of all cultures, and a lover of the earth. Truly, I hope that others can share the same experience and exhibit the same sort of humanity wherever they may be, in whatever they choose to do, when serving our beloved biosphere.