Class of 2019
Her Vision: Inspire youth in Japan and around the world to take action on climate change.
When Shiina first enrolled in high school at Green School Bali in 2016, she barely spoke any English. Having previously attended a standard public school in her hometown of Yokohama, Japan, up until that point, moving to the jungles of Bali and sitting in classrooms with students from all over the world was, needless to say, a culture shock. Yet, within three years, Shiina learned to speak English fluently, had launched her own sustainable cosmetics business, participated in the COP24 and COP25 climate conferences, and, most importantly, developed lifelong friendships that she still cherishes today. Her story speaks to Green School’s ability to nurture in students not just their full potential, but their passions to address real-world problems. Passions that, when nurtured, lead to life-long action.
Shiina meeting Greta Thunberg at COP24 in Poland
“Unlike most schools, Green School doesn’t force students to do anything,” Shiina told us when we caught up recently about her learning journey. “I learned to say yes to anything, because whenever I said yes to something I would meet people and I would learn something that would benefit my life. Green School has such an amazing community of students, teachers and parents who come from all types of backgrounds and we all learn from each other.”
As a result of Green School’s student-led approach and focus on experiential learning, Shiina was able to take such memorable classes as DJing (and performing at a local Bali restaurant) and chocolate-making. She was also able to start experimenting Green School Bali’s Zero Waste Maker Space, the iHub, making more sustainable and non-toxic lip gloss – something she was motivated to do for her sister who has sensitive skin.
“From day one at Green School, Shiina did not sit back and let things come to her. She started as a student with zero English and left as a student that commanded the stage for her Greenstone, a Greenstone that brings revelations to Japanese society on sustainability,” says her former teacher Pak Kyle king. “Shiina worked fastidiously for years researching and developing truly sustainable cosmetics, but what she will forever take with her from Green School is a spirited mindset to affect positive change.”
Shiina experimenting with creating her own cosmetics at Green School’s iHub
“I love that Green School lets you ask questions, and choose what classes and areas of study are most interesting to you,” Shiina told us. “For instance, when I wanted to experiment with making my own lip gloss and lipstick, the school provided me with the time and tools and teacher support to pursue this project. I was making cosmetics before I could even speak English!”
Through her cosmetics project, Shiina earned her science credit. Taking traditional science courses in English was difficult for Shiina, as so many science words were unfamiliar to her and often only used in the context of a science class. By Grade 11, Shiina was already selling her products at the local Farmers Market. For her senior year Greenstone project, Shiina presented to our community about the power of consumer choices to incentivize a shift in the status quo, to create a better and more sustainable world.
Upon graduating from Green School, Shiina enrolled at Keio University in September 2019. She soon realized that there was a lack of awareness among her University peers regarding the urgency to address climate change. In addition, after years of learning paired with taking action at Green School, she wasn’t content to sit in a classroom when so much action was needed at a very pivotal moment for the planet.
Because of this, Shiina made the bold choice to take a break from University and travel her country speaking to Japanese youth about the importance of taking action in the face of climate change. She has since presented to thousands of students on this topic.
“When I went to the COP conferences and met with other people my age who are taking action in the fight against climate change, it was so inspiring,” Shiina tells us. “I wanted to pass that feeling of inspiration on to other young people in my country. I know when I give a presentation to one hundred people that not all one hundred of them will be inspired, but if one or two are and decide to take action, then it’s a good presentation which I learned through Greenstone presentation.”
Shiina’s dream is to cultivate a community of inspired climate activists, change makers and future green leaders across Japan and, eventually, around the world. As a first step, she will soon launch an online portal where young people can connect and share ideas and inspiration.
When Shiina is not working on her community-building, she can be found catching up with her closest friends from Green School, watching movies together online from multiple countries (she admits to sometimes waking up at 1am just to watch a movie and catch-up with her friends).