By Yolanda Thein
It’s almost been 10 years since I graduated from the New International School of Thailand NIST, and received my IB Diploma. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t haven’t nightmares five years down the line about failing math (I passed), but I am certain to say that the intensive years prepared me for life and the entrepreneurial world down the road.
I started my initiative GreenGrovesOrg after reading a quote by Robert Swan that read, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” I knew I wasn’t a scientist proven by the fact that I took higher level IB Art and chose Design Technology as my science. However, I knew that I was passionate about ecology and the loss of biodiversity such as the mass extinction of the coral reefs. This led me to discover nature’s most powerful ecosystem, the mangroves, who have a symbiotic relationship with coral reefs and together they help protect coastal communities and environments from storms and erosion while also enhancing the condition of regenerating wildlife and crustacean which benefit local fishermen in return.
I fostered the network I had cultivated growing up in South East Asia and began building this foundation where we have managed to plant 500 mangroves in the north of Phuket, with the goal to complete a total of 20,000 trees once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Looking back now, all five IB ATL skills acquired were present through all stages of building my foundation.
The operation is built around volunteer work to protect coastal communities from climate change derived natural disasters by regenerating mangrove forests. The service and action aspects of CAS are present through peer-to-peer education on beach clean-ups and introducing a transparent operation by upcycling plastics with external brand partnerships. Through designing media and producing original content for the website and all social channels, I am able to apply my creative talents. When it comes to CAS, it gives you a chance to gain a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment where you have the freedom to choose your focal points and incorporate your hobbies.
I hope that this story can be a source of inspiration for anyone that has thought about starting their own project which can go beyond CAS at school. I have added a link to my website below for more information on mangroves and why nature- based solutions are an important addition to reaching net-zero by 2050 and complying with the Paris Climate Agreement rules.
I also host a weekly Instagram live interview called Planet People where I interview other young change makers of the world, climate activists, and business leaders which get an average of 1000 views. (@yolandathein)