Halo, my name is Jeff and a few years ago I founded a non-profit organization, Waves Not Plastic. We use education and youth outreach programs to promote ocean conservation and plastic pollution prevention. I love to surf and my passion for the ocean is a driving force to make a difference and educate future generations.
It is no secret that Indonesia is home to some of the best waves in the world, but unfortunately, it is also struggles with some serious pollution and waste management issues.
I have long dreamed about traveling around the islands of Indonesia in search of perfect waves and the opportunity presented itself. So here I am, getting waves, teaching ocean conservation in the school place and sharing the gift of clean water as a clean water courier with Waves for Water.
Education is so important in protecting our environment.
What’s your plan in Indo?
I arrived in Indo with no real plan. In my opinion, that is the best way to travel. Instead of planning, I set out with a purpose. “I feel that youth education is imperative to making a difference and change how future generations interact with the environment.”
Thanks to an incredible human being and friend, Joel Harper, Waves Not Plastic uses children’s books as educational tools. Our current youth education program is centered on two of his books and the incredible message of Ocean Conservation that they share.
Our plan in Indonesia you ask? To visit schools, donating educational materials. To share, encourage and inspire creativity as we support positive change in the environment!
What materials did you bring?
This trip and its educational impact would not have been possible without Joel Harper. His story and children’s book, “Sea Change” is an incredible educational tool that successfully navigates the language barrier when traveling around the world.
The story follows a young girl as she encounters plastic pollution on the beach and inspires her friends and classmates to clean things up and turn something negative into beautiful art. The story promotes change and encourages kids to think differently, build something great and take care of the environment.
My bags were packed with over forty copies that we donated to schools, libraries, and young families throughout coastal communities. For more information on an incredible author, check out: http://seachangestory.org/
Any remaining space in my bag was stuffed to its breaking point with water filtration systems, miscellaneous necessities for a month on the road and a few pairs of swim trunks that never made it back home. Funny how every crewmember on the boat wore the same size trunks as I….?
How did you choose what schools you would visit?
Things just happened by chance. The first school I visited was in Bali, Indonesia where I found myself when my search for some waves motivated a last minute flight.
One particular school visit came about when a friend I met walking down the street gave me a ride around town on the back of his motorcycle. I shared my journey and the vision of Waves Not Plastic with him and he gave me a ride to a school down the road. It was as simple as that. “This looks like a good place to start.”
Did things unfold as expected?
I never really knew what to expect. At this time in the trip I was traveling around by myself and my Indonesian was limited. I would walk into a school with a backpack filled with books, carrying a camera and take it from there.
I was confident in my purpose and my message carriers such importance that everyone welcomed me with open arms. The more I traveled, the more I would learn more about the culture and things became easier. Every school visit was an adventure and to this day no two school visits have been the same.
At the end of my trip my bags were empty, the message was shared and my heart was full. I try not to spend too much time anticipating about the future and setting expectations. As a result, I am often pleasantly surprised.
What was your favorite experience during your school visits?
One school visit was especially memorable. After reading the story, “Sea Change” to three separate classes of elementary students, I was approached by one of the teachers and asked to assist in teaching her next English class. The moment after class when every student came up to tell me their name and shake my hand brought me incredible joy!
Did I mention how good the surfing in Indonesia is?!