Sustainable school provides lessons to teachers, too

monik's schoolMonik Hardjowasito’s classroom sometimes includes lizards, scorpions and occasionally snakes. It always includes a few bugs, some dirt and an island breeze.

Hardjowasito ’03 teaches at Green School, a K-8 private school in Bali, Indonesia. The first-year school is making an effort to teach sustainable practices and to live them out.

“It’s pretty extreme,” said Hardjowasito. “It’s about being green to the truest sense possible. It’s to the point where we’re using buckets in the bathroom, and we’re explaining why to the students.”

School buildings and furniture are made of bamboo, which, Hardjowasito explained, is a fast-growing, renewable source and is grown locally. Thatched roofs and no walls allow for natural sunlight and natural cooling.

Much of the food for the students and the staff, who live in yurts—circular bamboo structures with thatched roofs and mosquito netting for walls—is grown on the premises. Power is supplied through solar sources and is vortex—a form of hydro power—generated.

Hardjowasito, who teaches a combined seventh- and eighth-grade class, sometimes finds it difficult to meet the needs of the students. “The challenge is in keeping up with the contemporary educational demands while still upholding sustainable ideals,” she said.

Not to mention the smaller things—like having to yell over the sound of pouring rain, having to chase blowing papers and not being able to use an overhead projector.

Still, she hopes to make a difference. “The vision is a holistic education,” she said. “And a huge part of that is how we affect the environment that we live in. We are integrating sustainable practices into math, into English and into everyday life. I believe that we’re developing their minds critically for sustainable living.”

Hardjowasito feels she is doing the same for herself. “Living and working like this—it’s a huge process,” she said. “Eco-friendly living like this needs to happen more often, though. Even modern-day society is God’s gift; we just need to figure out how we can embrace that with what the planet needs.

“I hope when I leave here I don’t continue where I left off,” she added. “I do want this experience to change me.