Can we change the world?

Expats in a microcosmos

I sat down yesterday and wrote a blog post about expats in Bali in general, and Green School in particular. I will probably never post it. It was my frustration regarding certain expats` ignorance released. I guess it makes you curious about what I wrote, and I can admit that it wasn`t very nice. It was about how some parents at Green School seem to be much less committed to school and the support of their children than I had expected.

When I read through it this morning it made me reflect a little more upon the issues. Both Morten and myself are surprised that so few of the new parents show up on parent`s meetings. Although they are on the greenest school in the world, some of them send their kids around with private drivers and don`t really seem to engage in their kids` lives much. If they do it is often to complain. -And their kiddos adapt their behavior.

Chilling by the pool of Como Uma
Expats` life can be very comfortable

Living in a bubble

Now, that is after all only a small part of the story. It would be unfair of us to post a blog purely about that. We would give you the wrong picture of what Green School and our year on Bali really is. I know that some of the criticism towards the school is about it being this bubble of wealthy expats set in an idyllic compound where labour is cheap.

Now, I`d rather look at it the other way around; The reason why we came was to be faced with the reality of the world. Some people are rich and their behaviour is way too often rather ignorant. Don`t take me wrong, most of them are nice, thoughtful people! However, most people here are poor compared to our standard.

Rice field farmer Bali
A rice farmer on his rice field -have you ever considered how much waste he produces a year, compared to yourselF?

The microcosmos of Bali is the perfect example of the world today. It contains some “richies” who live their comfortable lives, where money solves almost everything, and consume enormous amounts of “stuff” every day. Some are like us; wealthy compared to most of the world`s population. Many are engaged activists that want to make a difference. -And then there`s the majority of people who earn little, eat unhealthy and don`t have access to proper education, healthcare or you name it. It is how we choose to deal with the differences and challenges that will define whether our children learn and benefit from this experience or not.

Street food, Bali
This man makes his living by selling food from a trolley along the streest. So do very many

Facing the real problems in the world

Pollution and waste management are two of the major concerns the society faces in the 21st century. Here we are, right in the middle of it. Both us parents, and the girls, totally realize what that looks like in reality by living here. One of the main waste plants on the island caught fire the other day, and ever since the air quality has been greatly impaired. The locals either shuffle their waste in the rivers or they burn it somewhere. In the dry season that causes air pollution, in the rainy season it means tons of plastic on the beaches. And all year round it means garbage almost everywhere.

Plastic garbage on Seseh beach, Bali
Waste on Seseh beach

Now, truth is though, that these people produce only a micoscopical amount of the waste on earth. It is you and me, and all our more or less wealthy alikes, who need to look ourselves in the eyes and ask what we can do to reduce our consumption. To change from plastic disposables to organic disposables won`t change a thing. We need to change our lifestyles! To live one year in the air quality we breathe in every day here, will maybe shorten our lives with two weeks. For the people who live here their whole life, it will probably kill them.

Expat haven
Are we willing to give up our comfortable, high-consumer lifestyle?

Our kids had heard about other cultures and religions, about pollution and poverty. They were told that access to healthcare, education and gender equality is something they shouldn`t take for granted. That we belong to the richest 10 percent of the world`s population. -And that there are some people in the world with a wealth so unreal we will never be able to get anywhere near their level. They had no clue about what we were talking about. Neither had we. Not until now. -And THAT will change all four of us for the rest of our lives.

Green School, Heart of School
Green School teaches us the lessons Norway never can

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *