By Michiel van Agt* from the Netherlands
August 4, 2015
The contrast between our first excursion to Jakarta and our second excursion to the tropical forrest of the National Parc Gunung Gede Pangrango couldn’t be any bigger. Today, at the first day of our two-day trip, we went to a village called Sarongge which is located at the foot of the National Parc Gunung Gede Pangrango. Here the Green Initiative Foundation is succcesfully running a reforestation project, in cooperation with the local community that lives around the forest. We spent the night camping in a small basecamp located in the tropical forest, halfway the mountain where we would do some trekking the next day.
In the morning, before our departure to Sarongge, we had a lecture about ecology and sustainable human development from Henk Manschot from the University for Humanistic Studies. Starting from a philosophical viewpoint, Henk Manschot let us think about how humans, the Earth and animals are interconnected. It made me think about the tension of harm-doing between humans and our planet: humans by polluting and by exhausting natural resources to which our planet responds with the climate changes and natural dissasters. This summer school, and especially during the trip to Sarongge, we have an excellent opportunity to think – or even better; experience – new perspectives on how the relation between us as earthlings and the earth can be restored.
With in the back of our mind the image Henk Manschot sketched of the mountain-trekking philosopher Nietzsche, we left for our excursion. After a beautiful ride through the tea gardens of the Puncak pass, we were welcomed in Sarongge with some local food. After receiving an introduction on the history of the reforestation project, we quickly left for the heavy uphill climb to the basecamp. The relief was great when we finally reached the basecamp, which resulted in a lot of laughter and a very cheerful mood in the group. Because of the darkness already falling, the last people who arrived had to make use of their flashlight to find their pathway. The way they were welcomed with a big applause, showed the cohesion of our group, now living a week together.
And of course we ended the day with a delicious dinner around a big campfire, with singing and dancing. The absence of clouds gave us even the opportunity to spot a sky full of stars before we went to bed in our cold tents.
*Michiel van Agt (the Netherlands) is master-student at the University for Humanistic Studies. His main interest is in the subject of philosophy and literature in relation to personal worldviews and social change.