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.