There are few places in the world quite like Indonesia, where exploding urban and rural pop­u­la­tions meet some of Earth’s most diverse coral reefs and rain­forest. A stun­ning arch­i­pelago of over 13,000 islands, it ranks second in the world for bio­di­ver­sity and holds the ninth largest city on the planet. It’s also the place I called home for much of my pre-​​college life.

I took my first steps on Indone­sian ground and spent my days jock­eying with mon­keys for climbing time on the banyan tree in our front yard. I got my first lessons on the envi­ron­ment crouching in my Tevas to watch giant jungle ants pass com­i­cally large objects up an assembly line, or with my face pressed against the screen door while a mon­itor lizard stalked across the grass after some unsus­pecting prey.

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