Merlin Melicang, 22, is a hungry man- not for food, but for knowledge. To him, learning never ends at The Learning Farm (TLF) and he wants to learn from everyone, from the staff to his juniors in the basic farming course.
Hailing from Halmahera, Merlin had spent nine months at TLF, completing his basic farming course, and is now in the advanced course. He now has the opportunity to teach and guide his new batch of juniors in the basic course, since in TLF, students in the advanced course, instead of instructors, teach the basic students.
Now a mentor to the new students, Merlin doesn't feel superior to them and remains humble. "We all come here for the same thing; to learn. I also learn from them," he said.
Despite having already spent seven months with his batch mates, he finds something new to learn from them every time, and wants to continue to interact with and learn from them. "But it goes the other way around also, they would want to learn from me too," Merlin said for them.
Since coming to TLF, he has developed more patience and discipline, especially in waking up early as the students at the farm have to start their day at 5am. "Hopefully I can continue this when I go back," he said. Most importantly, he has also cut down on his smoking habits. To discourage students from smoking, it is prohibited in many parts of the farm.
TLF gathers youth from all over Indonesia, and Merlin likes interacting with people from the places he has never been to. He enjoys the strong camaraderie formed with his batch mates, who are of similar ages as him, and have come here with the same purpose.
Organic farming is little known back in his village, and Merlin wants to be the first person to practice organic farming there after he graduates from TLF. "I want to expand what I have learnt and not let it go to waste," he said.