I cannot begin to express the truly life altering nature of this summer of service experience through words alone. Each and every facet of service I was involved in, the cultural education and exposure, and the relationships built between myself and fellow program participants genuinely resulted in significant personal growth and development. Throughout this experience we served in a variety of capacities ranging from construction work building proper waste disposals for local educational institutes, to cleaning and feeding sea turtles residing in the conservation facility. Having lived on a rural, non-touristy island off of the coast of Bali for over a month, I grew to understand the importance of environmental conservation even more so then I had previously. The island of Nusa Penida is negatively impacted by improper disposal of waste by its indigenous residents. The environmental consequences are evident as a result; trash of all sorts, ranging from plastic bottles to clothing, laces the shoreline of the beach and continues throughout the island. Based on coordinator interactions and anecdotal testimonials I discovered that this issue is a result of a lack of education regarding the environmental degradation that can occur when waste is improperly disposed of, and how it can negatively impact biospheres shared by both humans and wildlife. However, over the course of this service experience visible improvements were made and recognized by coordinators which filled me with joy and excitement. While the problem is quite a way away from being resolved, the efforts of local grassroots organizations is instrumental to the continued improvement of circumstances. This experience was more then I could have ever hoped it would be. So many memories and moments come to mind when reflecting upon this adventure, and I am forever grateful to the SHIP Grant, and Rollins as a whole, for affording me such incredible opportunities.
It is incredibly difficult to offer an anecdotal account of a specific event from such an amazing and stimulating experience due to there being a plethora of unforgettable moments. However, what better way to reflect then to acknowledge a moment that both signified the conclusion of such an incredible service experience while simultaneously embodying our primary reasoning for committing ourselves to said service. It is a tradition at Green Lion Bali that on the last day of service, before volunteers begin their trek home, a turtle is reintroduced into the wild. This is done quite early in the morning due to the fact that there is a semi-significant drive and hike involved in order to reach the best possible destination for release. Sea turtles will always return to the beach that they were born on to lay their own eggs, however, many of the sea turtles housed in the conservation center were transported to the hatching facility upon discovery to ensure maximum survival rates. The turtle release was honestly incredible. Witnessing the hard work and dedication of so many individuals to protect such a majestic creature and improve the conditions in which they live was so incredible. It was the physical representation of all the work I had done over the course of my experience, and was a truly astounding conclusion to my journey. So many factors and moving parts are in play regarding environmental sustainability and the protection of this endangered species, but it is amazing to know that although there is so much difficult work to be done, we as individuals can make a difference by devoting our efforts and partnering with organizations who are facilitating continuous progression and developments. I would like to thank the SHIP Grant, and Rollins College as a whole, for affording me the opportunities that I am eternally grateful for.