I first met my Tunas Hijau friends in Perth (West Australia) in 2013. They were in Perth working with Millennium Kids on a River Health project. I was very excited to hear about the work that Tunas Hijau was doing with students in Surabaya and hoped that I could come and see for myself in the future.
That hope came true about 1 ½ years later when I moved to Indonesia for my PhD research on environmental education in senior high schools. I started my research in Jogja and soon included Surabaya as it was clear that Surabaya was doing excellent things in environmental education.
So far I have visited Surabaya four times and each time I learn more and more from the schools I visit with Tunas Hijau. On my first visit here I was amazed by the efforts of the schools in the YEL- YEL Competition. Not only were students creative with costumes, some had made great musical instruments from re-use materials and all had written songs with environmental messages.
I don’t think I will ever forget the performance of SMK 12 – the image of the strong warriors using their culture and pride to protect the environment. These students combined a powerful message with amazing choreography, costuming and song.
On each of my visits I have had the privilege of visiting lots of schools and interviewing many students, teachers and principals about their experiences with environmental education. Some of the most inspiring schools are those that started with a difficult situation and turned their school around – with gardens, forests, waste banks, composting, water conservation, energy conservation, plastic free canteens – the list could go on!!
Thanks to Tunas Hijau, I have also had the opportunity to meet and interview leaders form the Education Department, Environmental Board and Department of Parks and Sanitation as well as one of Tunas Hijau’s sponsors. These interviews have shown me that Surabaya is working together to achieve a much greener and healthier city for its people.
My favourite experiences has been joining in care free day with 1000’s of others and accompanying Tunas Hijau’s Eco Mobile to visit different schools.
I am so pleased to see the progress that Surabaya is making and look forward to seeing it continue. I hope Surabaya can be an inspiration to other cities – in Indonesia and across the world.