Achintya Nilsen
Class of 2017

 

Her Vision: Support underserved communities in Bali and help lift families out of poverty through education and access to resources.

IndonesianNorwegian model, activist, and former Miss Indonesia 2017 is proving to the world that being an introvert does not equate to a lack of self-confidence. The young changemaker recently wrapped an internship at an impact investment fund, is working to support underserved Balinese communities through work with her family’s NGO, Kerja Bakti, and just co-founded Bali Support, a centralized fundraising platform for aid projects happening around her beloved home island. In all her work, Achintya is fueled by an internal wellspring of self-possession she credits in part to her education at Green School.

 

 

“I think Green School really sets you up to be a person who brings their own uniqueness and authenticity into the world,” Achintya told us when we recently caught up with her over Zoom. “Our teachers taught us that if you’re not doing something you love and are passionate about, you’re denying the world your own special gifts.” 

Achintya started her education in a much different environment. “I came from a school that really emphasized excelling in academics above everything else,” says Achintya, who confessed that there was a lot of bullying at her previous school. “When I came to Green School I was about 10 years old, and remember feeling like I didn’t have to mask my identity or try to be someone I wasn’t. People just accepted each other and all of their unique quirks.”

Inspired by her classmates’ acceptance of others, as well as Brene Brown’s TED talk on the power of vulnerability, eventually inspired Achintya to do her senior capstone project, called a “Greenstone,” on belonging. Growing up with mix-culture parents (a Norwegian father and Balinese mother), she often struggled with the question of ‘where do I fit in?’ early on. As she got older, she learned that we find belonging when we open ourselves up to others. That we can only really connect when we are being authentic. Her Greenstone explored the power of vulnerability to create more authentic connections in the space of family, school, careers and other situations in life.

In addition to her accepting classmates, Achintya is grateful to her teachers for celebrating her strengths and encouraging her passions while at school. Previously not one to talk herself up, Achintya was counseled by Ibu Nicola to take pride in her creative writing skills and share more of it with the world. Her writing has since become a source of self-confidence as well as a way to manage her mental health. She’s learned to take refuge in journaling and creative writing whenever she feels anxious or down about the world. 

At most schools, this might have become the moment when teachers advise their student to pursue a writing career. But at Green School, there is no pressure to graduate with a definite picture of what you want to be or where you want to go. Instead, Achintya graduated with a clarity and confidence in who she is.

 

 

“For me the big idea Green School leaves you with is that nothing is set in stone in terms of your aspirations,” says Achintya. “They teach that it’s totally ok if you don’t have everything figured out as soon as you graduate, instead you’re taught to continue the life-long journey of self-discovery through learning that begins at Green School. It’s one of the reasons my dad chose to put us into the school, because he wanted us to understand this, to be ok with uncertainty and move forward despite it.”

 

 

“During Tya’s time at Green School and since graduating I’ve seen her grow into an eco and social warrior, concerned about sustainability and humanity,” says her dad. “I think into the future the need for that mindset and skills are going to be in high demand.” 

So, which of Achintya’s many interests is she pursuing today? Well, we mentioned the non-profit work. Really, the main throughline is finding ways to make a positive impact in her local community, knowing that it will have a ripple effect outward. For instance, she explains to us how helping a Balinese family out of poverty, in addition to the obvious benefits, has a secondary benefit to the environment. “I notice that when families are impoverished they don’t have the time or wherewithal to think about what impact they’re having on the environment. When families are helped out of poverty, they then have more freedom to turn their attention to the planet.”

 

 

When Achintya is not working on her local-to-global impact, she spends her time reading. Her favorite topics to read and study are film and psychology, and she’s been known to practice what she’s learned by psycho-analyzing her friends…with or without their permission. Joking aside, she loves the way psychology brings more self-awareness and can inspire steps toward positive change. Because, as she tells us, “everyday is about being a better version of yourself.”