environment

Climate Action Capacity Fellowship (2021-2022)

Final Reflection CACF

I am sitting here watching the rain, in humid Jakarta, now cooled by the rain and breeze.

I was brought to climate action work because of a culmination of things. I had watched and read a lot of things as a child that made me realize how grave today’s environmental problem is. In Jakarta, I grew up with smoky air and the sights of trash clogging up rivers or the sides of the street on my way to school. I saw the mountains being carved for mining in my grandmother’s village, like some giant monster wanted to take a large piece of a tumpeng rice, and so turned the mountain’s forests into gaping crumbling soils. Ever since college, my perspective has grown more sophisticated, and now I can say things like, “Indonesia’s palm oil plantation zone expansion is causing a modern-day case of primitive accumulation, causing landless peasants to become proletariats under the control of the ruling class.” Or “As in the case of the capital relocation, this mega-infrastructure project requires methods of access control and the creation of a frontier by powerful groups and could very likely lead to another case of primitive accumulation.”

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The Bongo Man

A while ago, I entered a competition called Genius Olympiad. Thankfully, my essay made it to the final round. However, the trip to New York and back is far too expensive. So instead, I’ve decided to share my essay here. Hope it brings you a little moment of reflection… =)

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I’ve always longed to see the “spirit” of nature. Oftentimes I’ve asked myself, what would it be like to feel the heartbeat of a forest, or to hear flocks of birds take flight across wide open fields? What would it be like to observe, uninhibitedly, monkeys swinging from branch to branch in the thriving Amazon rainforest? What kind of person would I have been had I grown up in a world of dark starry nights instead of artificial city constellations?

Then, in fifth grade, I finally found my own “deep connection” with nature.

It was one of those days where the sun shone and the sky blazed blue, scattered slightly with clouds. The breeze blew, bringing scents of warm soto, cow dung, and burning wood, curiously all mixed into one. Panting, I made the final leap through the air.

“Yes! I win!”

Face crimson with sweat, my friend Alia staggered behind and planted her hands on her knees.

“You… got a… head start,” she rasped.

“I did not.”

Pushing aside a hanging branch, we stepped into the shadows of the forest canopy. Here, it was a whole other world. Here, light danced in strange ways before us, casting its rays upon crawling critters on the forest floor and fallen fruits. Branches rustled and creatures scuttled. The air was vibrant with the smell of the moist soil that pillowed our feet.

Treading lightly, we weaved between slants of sunlight, when a boom suddenly echoed through the air.

Thud. Thud. The sound was constant, reverberating through the foliage. We stood rooted to the spot.

“Do you hear that?” I whispered.

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