Oh, the places we’ll go…

T.I.P.

T.I.P. is a great organization and making it even better, my dad works there. We went there almost every day in Beijing and the days we weren’t there were used by a day off and relaxing, or a day at the Summer Palace pretty much hiking. We enjoyed it very much. We helped the students, we helped my dad, and we helped ourselves, learning about China. Not all the cafeteria food was great, but the biggest highlight of lunch was the fried chicken. I got it every time and ate real lunch at a place called Muslim 1.

They had really good chicken, cucumbers, and rice. After a long day we usually went hunting for candy and had a half movie night…. At least we tried.

~Emma~

Bali's treasures

Our legs already hurt, and we were maybe a third of the way up. The impending hours of hiking ahead weighed on us like no yoke could do. Well, maybe if we actually had a yoke on our back and still had the hours ahead of us… But that’s irrelevant. Stopping for the third time, we looked around us, once again taking in the indescribable beauty of the tropical forest lining the trail. Air so humid you could drink it filled the forest with a dense mist, visible only in the few, bright rays of Sun that sneaked in through the leaves of the green canopy above us. A cool breeze wound trough the maze of trees, blowing sweet refreshment into our faces, dancing with our loose hair. Once our breathing had returned to a level not quite normal, we picked up our feet once more, and willed our legs to continue carrying us up one of the taller mountains of Bali. Looking out over the edge, a small village built on the lake’s shore still slept in the early morning hours. From our height, the lake extended into the far-off horizon, filling the large, centuries-old caldera. Boats docked in the shallow waters teetered from side to side, rocking as if it were a baby cradle. On the other side of us, trees from the tales of Dr. Seuss dripped cold dew from their leaves onto the small plants growing below. Magical, it seemed. For hours we hiked the treacherous traps hidden under the brush of the trail, laughing when we slipped in the still wet mud. Four stops and a few hours later, we arrived at the small, open-air temple crowning the peak of the mountain. Those with nimbler legs had already begun a picnic around the main shrine, with cheeses, crackers, and coconuts taken from the offerings, cracked, and shared amongst the thirsty crowd. The kids of the fourth and fifth grade classes ran around, cheering on those who had not yet reached the top, and sharing a meal with those who had. Truly, they were the craziest and funniest group of kids I had been around in a long time! Our longs uttered an audible groan as we sank into the plush grass and savored the cool wind blowing up from the lake. Once my legs had recovered sufficiently, I stood up to walk around the small shrine. It was beautiful in its simplicity. The old bricks were crumbling under the stress of the elements. I had not been long rested when I was greeted with the dreadful news that it was time to begin our descent. Had I not just climbed this? The truck we had driven up in felt as if it would be around every corner, but each turn presented a tree or hole that some swore they did not remember. By and by, however, we managed to stumble, slide, step, and run our way down the hill to the welcoming sight of the bright orange, bamboo-topped truck. Awaiting my mom and I at the base of the hill was John Hardy, founder of the Green School and organizer of the trip. Did I really hate him at that moment? No, it must have only been the complaints seeping out from the pain in my shaking legs; for the following two weeks, I sat in with the 9th grade class and enjoyed two of the best weeks I had had in a very long time. After two cakes worthy of the extravagant Mad Hatter tea party and a night spent at a hotel with the…… enthralling 9th grade class, friends for life were made and we left Bali with paintings of possibilities in our heads and smiles on our faces.

~Mckenna

Liberty Wreck, Bali

Last week I went on a dive to the U.S.S Liberty shipwreck in Bali. It was so cool because it was my first shipwreck ever to dive and I hadn’t been scuba diving in 9 months so it was so much fun. Also on the dive I saw some amazing things. I saw a 6 foot barracuda and a squid and a black tip shark. It was the first time I saw a shark and a squid and they were awesome. Also I saw a swarm of fish and a eel. The wreck was huge and was amazing because I could actually tell it was a boat. The wreck was a walk in dive so we walked in and started scuba diving and saw these cool fish. On the way back from seeing theship wreck we came across a fully intact airplane. The airplane was awesome because it was fully intact. There was this weird fish but it was so cool. The fish was yellow and looked like a plant. I can’t wait for the fish that await me in Australia.

-Josh

Green School on BBC

In the waning days of the kids’ amazing time at The Green School in Bali, the BBC came by to learn about this incredible place.  When we woke up this morning – now in Hong Kong – we saw this piece on bbc Asia world News!!  We are so honored to be apart of this incredible place and I am amazed at how it has changed the kids and they way they think about this planet and school in general! Take a look….bbc World News at The Green School

Elephant Safari Park - Bali

The Elephant Safari Park in Bali is awesome! We went there this past weekend and it was so much fun! There are so many elephants and most of them come from Sumatra, an island in Indonesia. Nigel and Yanie Mason rescued them and  take care of them. Nigel comes from Australia and Yanie is from Bali, Indonesia. I have a favorite elephant with a pink nose. I don’t know her name but I do know that she is very nice and loves to eat palm tree with lots of green on it. She eats loads of food at a time – 250lbs a day!!!! She loves playing in the water. I know she is the one for me!

~Emma

The School that never gets old!

This blog is about something that sticks out in the world like a piece of bamboo. I said bamboo specifically because it is the school that is green. The school is only bamboo. It is so cool. Also part of the thing that is awesome is that the location that it is called is the kul-kul campus, how to pronounce it and say what the school actually is (cool-cool campus). Isn’t that cool. Even all that stuff is awesome it get more awesome.  In their classroom they have this thing called a bubble. It is a big inflatable classroom. When it gets to hot or is raining or sometime they just break into groups and one group is in the bubble. It is so awesome in there because you feel like you’re in a pie. The most awesome thing is that I don’t like school at all. I don’t like any forms of school except The Green School. There are no walls at all in the whole school. Also they are the only school in the world to have a mud-wrestling pit. So now the most awesome thing is, wait what’s that, I-I-I cant. Oh well just got news that I can’t tell you the most awesome thing. I guess you’ll just have to come and see it.

-Josh-

The Green School

The green school is an all green (organic), school, hence the name. It is all made out of bamboo.  When you step into the wonder world you don’t feel like you are about to go to school you feel like you are in a dream learning something new about the importance in the world of granola heads! The jewelry designers, John and Cynthia, founded this school. J&C sold their company to build this all bamboo school because they were worried about the damage all the pollutants IN the world were doing TO the world. This amazing school has grades k-9th and everybody loves it! The students are all very happy at the Green School with their small classes and nice teachers. The 8th grade class, the one I am in, has 8 kids, Eddy, Carina, Rahul, Shea, Tristan, Alex, Japhy and Teo.  These kids are very nice but, they are not the only ones I hang with! I also hangout with the 7th graders, Ry, Emma, Erin, Zoe, Greta, Remy, Mia and anybody else I forgot, please excuse me. J When it is break time, unlike our school, we hangout at the Warung, restaurant on campus, and the fact that you are in completely different grades goes away, that is until the gong rings and you have to go back to class and they aren’t there! This school is an amazing opportunity for the kids to take a notice to their environment and also take part in the changing of the world in the birth of a new generation. As you may, or may not, know, Bali gets very, very hot and these classrooms are completely open air so you can imagine how difficult it is to sit still and focus while the heat is sweeping you off your feet… You are imagining wrong! With some of the classes, such as green studies, where you are completely outside you need an escape from the blistering heat and that is why they created something called all-natural, latex ‘bubble’. This bubble provides a place for the kids to go if they are feeling hot or their classroom is being used. The bubble is not used everyday, only some days.This ‘bubble’ is not a hard structure, it is a, like I said, all-natural latex canvas that inflates by a fan, powered by a small generator using as little energy as possible. All in all the Green School is a great school and I could go on for hours and hours (without any umm’s Pak Jonathan (; ), about how lovely it is to be there but, if you want to find out, you will have to see for your self………

~ Becca

The City Town

Laos

Can you call Luang Prabang a city? Nestled in the mountains of central Laos, this quiet town is a beautiful medley of colonial French and traditional Lao design settled along the banks of the wide river, Mekong. On one side, the thriving boutique hotels and restaurants line the streets, offering everything from Italian, to Western, to local, Lao-style meals. On the opposite banks, the rice patties and fishing boats of the local farmers line the river, providing a pleasant concoction of rural and urban. The people happily shared in both. Smiles were on their faces as we paid them for our daily collection of Gatorade, or when we left from another meal at our favorite restaurant. Every morning, however, they still line the streets to give Alms to the brightly dressed monks of the temples.Clad in the brightest orange, saffron, and earth colors, the monks, ranging in age from 10 to 100 walked quietly in a single line down the row of tourists and locals alike. Those lining the matt-strewn streets offered steaming sticky rice, coconut milk-boiled rice treats wrapped in fresh banana leaves, money, sweets, and other such items. Each offering was gently placed into the wide opening of the black and gold Alms pots, carried in leather at the Monks’ hip. The serene faces of each of the near one hundred monks silenced our busy minds and calmed our nervous hands. The early wake-up call had left us tired afterwards, though calm.

Alms for the Monk

We treated ourselves to a short nap, then walked a few blocks down to a small organization called Big Brother Mouse. Its primary focus is different from many others, as its main mission is to continuously provide new reading materials to the rural, poor villages. Stopping within the headquarters, we bought some books to donate, send home, and give to the village we would be hiking to the next day. The following afternoon, we ventured into the mountains for a four-hour hike to a village perched on the top of a smaller mountain. . That day in the village, a new house was being put up much in the same style as a barn raising in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. Bearing gifts of workbooks and picture books for the small, local school, we found the owner of the nearly done house who received the books on behalf of the school. We were amazed, as we walked down and finished our hike, at the amount of time required for any one of the villagers to visit a friend in another village or to go into town. After a boat trip down the river, we arrived back to our villa in time to finish packing for the flight to Vietnam the next day. Recounting our days in Luang Prabang, we realized what a fabulous place it had been. Every morning, we woke to a calm, cool town of quaint shops just opening to customers and restaurants still sitting quiet in the light of the newly risen sun.

Children of the Village

By the end of the day, our stomachs happy with their meal and a day of new interests to keep our minds satisfied, we slept soundly in our beds. Next morning, bags packed and in the truck, we headed to the small airport and said final goodbyes. Flights always invoked some emotion, either tears for the place we were leaving, or smiles for the adventure awaiting. That day, it was somewhat hard to decide.

~ Mckenna

Mimi, a friend in Cambodia

Mimi was nice. We met her in Siem Reap, a town in Cambodia. She was the daughter of Stephane and Naomi, the owners of Amatao, the place where we stayed. We always watched a movie together at least once a day. She is about 11 years old and goes to school and tutoring and comes home at 5:00 every day except on her half days. After she came home we would go right to swimming with everyone else because we were super hot. Mimi also has a cat named Amadeus and a even smaller one named Vivaldi. Vivaldi was about, not even, two weeks old. He is orange and has big blue eyes. Even Mckenna is jealous of his eyes. Amadeus was black and all of us wanted to take him!

~ Emma

Peace in the mind of a Vietnam War Vet. (from the Vietnamese side)

Today I went to the Cu Chi  tunnels. When we got there after an hour and 20 minute drive we arrived to meet a guide that had lost sight in one eye and one arm in a tunnel battle against the Americans in 1967. He might of lost one arm and one eye, but when we asked him if he liked the Americans, he said “You can sleep with only friends, but you can’t sleep with enemies”. I was actually surprised to hear that after I watched a video where the vietnamese narrator called the Americans (American army) a crazy batch of devil’s, but it was also a propaganda film. Anyway, about the tunnels themselves, they were about 3 and a half feet tall and about 2 feet wide. Also, it wasn’t an underground system it was an underground city. They had electricity, headquarters, and sleeping quarters, operation quarters, clinic quarters, military bunkers, and  entrances from the river. As I said an underground city. Well that is pretty much all I can say. I loved the Cu Chi Tunnels.

-Josh-