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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SOI Office

Gatineau, Quebec Canada

Scroll down to view photographs and journal entries!

Expedition Update - 8:00pm EST

The Miami group is in the air! They will enjoy a restful overnight flight and arrive in sunny Buenos Aires tomorrow morning. The Toronto group will soon join them in the air. Both groups will reunite in the morning and spend the day touring Buenos Aires before their group flight to Ushuaia.

We are signing off for the evening and leave you with a letter from the Expedition Leader, Geoff Green:

December 27, 2011

Hello from 35,000 feet somewhere above North America en route to Miami, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and ultimately Antarctica! 

Our Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011 has officially begun! Over the next 24 hours, 89 students and staff from 15 countries will converge in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world and our pre-Antarctic staging ground, before making the final push to the bottom of the world. From Nunavik to New Zealand, and India to Indiana, we have an extraordinary group of excited students at the beginning of an experience that will very likely help to shape their future.

The past few months have been a whirlwind. Putting on an expedition like this requires a tremendous amount of collaboration, partnerships, logistics, great people, good karma, funding and much more. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to making this extraordinary journey possible. We are so grateful for your belief in the Students on Ice mission and your generous and critical support.

This is the 12th annual SOI Antarctic Youth Expedition. Since 2000, we have taken over 1,800 students from 50 countries to both Polar Regions. The impacts and outcomes of these expeditions have been truly inspiring, life-changing and long-lasting. I am confident that this expedition will be another great success, and this group of students will return in a few weeks educated, inspired and motivated with new perspectives, ideas, tools and ambition for their future and the future of this planet we share.

In fact, the reason for Students on Ice may have never been more relevant and important than now. Our communities and the planet need more young leaders that understand and deeply care about the health of our global ecosystem. - Young leaders that are connected to the natural world and understand the roles, responsibilities and opportunities that lay ahead of them.

Antarctica is an amazing place and going there is like going to another planet. It is a symbol of peace, understanding and conservation: three things we could definitely use more of.

The next two weeks for these students will be packed with discovery, adventure and challenge.  We look forward to sharing it all with you each day via this website. So enjoy the journey and may you too be inspired and challenged along the way.

In the expedition spirit,

Geoff Green

Founder and Expedition Leader,

Students on Ice

Geoff Green, Students on Ice Founder, Executive Director and Expedition Leader
Copyright © Garry Donaldson, Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Expedition Update - 6:30pm EST

The Toronto group has landed in Miami and checking in to their connecting flight to Buenos Aires. Their flight is American Airlines 909, scheduled to depart at 8:30pm.

The Miami group is checked-in and waiting for their departure on LAN Airlines flight 4M4521 for Buenos Aires, scheduled to depart at 7:45pm.

We will post our final update this evening once both flights are en route... stay tuned!

Students getting to know each other in Lester B. Pearson International Airport
Copyright © Mike Beedell, Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Expedition Update - 3:00pm EST

We have been busy at the SOI office tracking flights and keeping in contact with the gateway city Meet and Greet teams.

The Toronto group has just boarded their flight and are taking off momentarily! They are on schedule to arrive in Miami this evening at 6:30pm. Their connecting flight from Miami to Buenos Aires is on schedule to depart at 8:30pm.

The Miami group is assembling - everyone is excited and in great spirits. Students are spending time getting to know each other and the staff informally and through group activities. Their evening departure to Buenos Aires is on schedule to depart at 7:45pm.

The Buenos Aires staff are enjoying beautiful sunny skies and the sights around town. They will be greeting student arrivals this evening and tomorrow morning.

Please enjoy a few journal updates received today which we have posted below!

In the expedition spirit,

The SOI office team

Students and staff in Miami excited for the upcoming adventure!

Copyright © Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Students and staff getting to know each other in Miami
Copyright © Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Amanda, Juliana and Briana listening to an introduction
Copyright © Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Passing the time and getting acquainted!
Copyright © Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Morgan is excited for the journey ahead!
Copyright © Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Team Rhode Island is all smiles during a get-to-know-you activity
Copyright © Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Expedition Update #1 - 8:30am EST

Good Morning! It is quiet here at the SOI office, which is a good sign! The Meet and Greet teams in Toronto, Miami and Buenos Aires are reviewing the flight schedules and preparing for the travel day. Our charter flights are on schedule and so far there have been no issues with students independent flights. Safe travels to all as you make your way to the gateway cities!

Below we have posted a few journal entries from students in Toronto. Their excitement is palpable!

More updates will follow later today.

In the expedition spirit,

The SOI office team

Drew Gibbons, Student

Brisbane, Australia

Hello again!

Still hasn't quite hit me yet that we're leaving today! It seems so weird to comprehend…

- “Hey Drew, what are you doing today?...”

- “Oh not much, you know... going to the bottom of the world!!!”

- “Oh”

Yesterday we met up with some students from Vancouver and a few other places. It turns out everyone from Ottawa arrived at the same time by every mode of transport: car, train and plane… even a U-Haul cube van! We could have got a party bus and come together, ha ha! It was exciting to meet them and listen to why they are here, what they’re most excited about, etc. We sat down and had a meal together and chatted about the trip and what to expect. Talking about it just made me even more excited than what I already was.

After the meal I went to my room to get a little bit of alone time to think about the adventure I'm about to take off on and get some rest. Not much rest happened. I was up until 4:00am, much to my disgust, but my body was not ready to sleep! Apparently, the people from Vancouver also had trouble sleeping. They had good reason because of the time delay. However the TV accompanied me and I got to watch an Australian movie which was nice. Made me feel a little closer to home.

As apart of the expedition, we all got Canada Goose Sweaters that are very warm and very stylish. We all look pretty darn good when we wear them together. I’m going to sign off now and go socialize or something. There are plenty of new names to learn! Ha ha –  

Over and out.

Kelly Chen, Student

Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

Greetings from Toronto!

The realization that I’m truly bound for Antarctica is just setting in now. We (Me, Alisha and Selin) landed in Toronto last night at around 10:00pm, and Alisha and I went to bed past midnight. We both had difficulty sleeping – out of jet lag or too much excitement, I don’t know which, but we didn’t fall asleep until 4:00am. Nonetheless, I woke up today with a lot of energy and anticipation for what is yet to come!

Later today we’re flying to Miami, then to Buenos Aires. We’re to spend a few hours exploring Buenos Aires, which I’m very excited about – I’m also looking forward to the warmth of Argentina, and to immerse myself in an entirely new and foreign culture and language. It’s a bit surreal to think that in a few hours, I’ll be in the Southern hemisphere in 20-30 degree Celsius heat! Awesome!

Of course, Antarctica (the best part) is yet to come. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I’ve heard the Drake Passage can be brutal. However, I love boats and am looking forward to sailing through tough territory, even if it necessitates bringing out the Gravol... On a more serious note, I’m really excited to meet all the educators on the trip and to also see first-hand how much the ice Antarctic cap has melted. Of course, I can’t forget the wildlife – I can’t wait to see penguins and seals and whales! Finally, I’ve heard that stargazing is stellar in the Southern hemisphere due to a lack of light pollution, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Finally, I’d just like to thank all those who have made this journey possible for me. Without all of your support and insight, there is no way this trip would have been viable for me. Thanks again!

Jamessie Cumberbatch, Student
Inukjuak, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada

Hi, my name is Jamessie Cumberbatch from Inukjuak, Quebec. I am one of the lucky people to be participating with SOI in the expedition to Antarctica! I am very excited to be on this trip, and to meet so many new people. I started to travel from home on the 23rd of December to Kuujjuaq, and had a great Christmas there. People in Kuujjuaq invited to me to their X-mas dinner. I first heard about this trip few years back and I was very interested. Then, my teacher Jason Annahatak told me that I could have a chance tojoin this year’s expedition. I was lucky to receive a scholarship supported by Makivik Corporation. I am very greatful to Makivik and Students on Ice to be here with the team. I am looking forward to learning new things about the Arctic and Antarctic environments and meeting people from around the world.

Shaziana Kaderali, Student

St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

So Day 1 for all of us who met in Toronto has ended. For me, it started in St. John’s getting the last of my packing done before heading out to the airport to start my long awaited journey to the Antarctic. So, I got to the airport, checked in, said my goodbyes, boarded my plane and my journey began. For me, it was my first time flying alone, not knowing anyone at all. I was nervous as I got off the flight, as to where I might meet the SOI Staff member. I went to the Baggage Claim to collect my bag and headed out the door, hoping to find someone. As I walked out, right in front was Lacia, there to pick me up and take me to the hotel for supper and to meet the others who had already arrived. After supper, Garry (another Staff member), brought me to get my Students on Ice, Canada Goose jacket; an amazing jacket. Then, I went to my room to get comfortable, await the arrival of my roommate for the night and get ready for bed. By the time we went to sleep, it was just after midnight and we had to wake up at around 7:00 in order to meet for breakfast at 8:00 and checkout at 9:00.

This morning, Day 2 started as we woke up at 7:00am and had breakfast with our new sure-to-be-long-time friends. Afterwards, some had to go get their coats, so I went to the room to make sure I had everything before checking out and meeting in a room to get to know more people. Soon, we will be going to the airport to check in, eat lunch, and continue our journey onwards, stopping in Miami, Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, before boarding the expedition ship for the Antarctic.

I cannot wait for the rest of our days to unfold. It still hasn’t quite hit me yet that this is really happening, but I’m sure it will once the cold does.

So far, everyone is really great, as I’m sure everyone will be.

Pamela Stevenson, Student

Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada

Hello, my name is Pamela Stevenson, born and raised in Kuujjuaq, Quebec. I’m very excited right now since we are in Toronto starting our journey to Antarctica. I’ve been waiting to have the opportunity to go on this expedition for a couple of years since my sister introduced me to Students on Ice. She joined a Students on Ice expedition to the Arctic.

It’s been nice to meet other students and some of the staff that are traveling with us. So far I have had a good meal and a lot of rest. I am ready to learn and explore what lies ahead. We will soon be on our way to the airport to go to Miami. We are about to start some get-to-know-you activities. I hope everything goes well.

Justine Wild, Student

Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

I'm very tired. It has been a long two days, and my body is still on Pacific time. I barely got enough sleep last night, hopefully I can sleep on the flights! The trip is becoming more and more of a reality as everyone is arriving. I'm meeting lots of new people, and none of us have quite grasped the fact that we are going to the Antarctic in the next few days. I'm really excited for the whole trip to start!

Mark Mroz, Student

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


I just arrived in Toronto and was rushed straight to the group’s hotel. The group is really nice and really open to everyone. I was scared when I first walked in, but I soon learned people were working quietly away writing about their first impressions. I am starting to get really excited to see what the rest of the day has planned for us after this morning’s excitements. The plan is for us to fly to Miami where we will meet with the members from the United States and fly on to Buenos Ares, Argentina. I hope we get to Ushuaia soon, or I will be sick from all of the excitement. I hope to see the amazing landscapes of the Antarctic and the incredible animals and plants that survive in such a harsh environment. I am excited to meet all of the scientists, artists and educators, and I want to learn what the scientists are eager to share. I cannot wait to finally get on the ship and set sail for Antarctica!

Selin Jessa, Student

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada


Vancouver disappeared really quickly yesterday under cloud cover and the sky turned to purple dusk while we were somewhere over the Prairies. We flew in over the Toronto city lights, spread out underneath us like a web of electrical connections. Alisha, Kelly and I regrouped at the gate, claimed our bags and met Lacia who was waiting for us with a Students on Ice sign. Then it was off to the hotel where we met Tim from Students on Ice and grabbed a bite to eat before heading off to bed. That quiet near-midnight conversation with Tim, Lacia and the girls over the dinner table was the best part of the night – a hint of what’s to come over the next two weeks. At first we started off talking about where we come from – A, K and I from BC, Lacia from the East Coast but living in Yukon for now, and Tim’s lived all over, but is now in Ottawa – and what’s to come on this adventure. Then somehow the conversation turned to what we might want to do as we get older, and those personality-type tests some people take in planning classes or other classes in high school. Across the table we agreed we didn’t find them particularly valuable in terms of pointing you in a specific direction, but the conversations they sparked were interesting. (How do people with different planning processes work together towards an end goal? What does it actually mean to be introverted or extroverted and how do you create an environment where both can thrive?) This was the first of what I'm sure will be many more perfect moments.

This morning we were outfitted with super nice Canada Goose jackets (thank you Canada Goose!) printed with the SOI logo and recent slogan: “Protect the Poles – Protect the Planet.” We're spending a short time blogging and then Tim has planned some educational activities before our small group of about 15 heads off to the airport to meet even more people and we leave Toronto behind. I am so, so excited that our adventure is finally starting, and that we’re on our way even if we still have a long journey ahead of us before the actual journey starts!

Michael Petagumskum, Student

Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada

Hi, my name is Michael and I am from Kuujjuaq, Quebec. I’m excited to be  participating in this journey! It is the morning of December 27. Yesterday we left from Kuujjuaq and flew to Montreal. It was about a 2 hour flight. Then we connected for a flight to Toronto. Later this morning we are going to start checking out of our hotel and then go to the airport to leave for Miami, Florida. This will be my first time in the United States. I’m having fun and enjoying meeting a few good strangers. I think we will become friends. People are nice. Nothing much more to write – we are about to start some educational group activities.

Maggie Campbell, Student

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

My name is Maggie and I am so excited to be participating in the Students on Ice 2011/12 Antarctic Youth Expedition!!! It’s the morning we arrive to Argentina, at about 9:20am. I arrived to a Holiday Inn in Toronto last night and met with some of the team for dinner. They are all really nice and interesting people that I look forward to sharing the journey with. We are all very excited for the expedition and didn’t get much sleep last night. Even though I only slept 5 hours last night, I am bursting with energy. Today we had breakfast at 8:00am and then went to a conference room to meet, get to know each other better and learn about the next few days before we set sail. I am looking forward to seeing penguins, of course! I am also very interested in seeing icebergs and glaciers, as I have never seen either before. I am coming from Ottawa, where it is dark most of the time in winter; so I am very interested to see what it is like to have the sun out all the time. I can’t wait to get on the ship, even though I am kind of afraid of being on a ship for so long. It will be a great adventure!

Alexandra Leroux, Student

Chelsea, Quebec, Canada


I arrived to Toronto last night and the fact that I’m going to the Antarctic still hasn’t quite kicked in. I think it’ll probably kick in once I get closer, maybe in Ushuaia. I still can’t believe that I was offered this amazing opportunity! Very few people in the world get to go to this amazing place. I’m looking forward to meeting students from all around the world and experiencing the amazing scenery. I wonder if I will be able to observe the effects of modern climate change? This would be very interesting to see. The one thing I’m looking forward to seeing the most is probably Deception Island. The place is a natural hot tub within a volcanic caldera. I bet it will be a lot of fun! I would have to go in the cold water first, that’s going to be the hard part. The one thing I’m not looking forward to is the flight from Miami to Buenos Aires, it’s going to be long, I don’t handle long flights very well.


My Mom went on last year’s Antarctic youth expedition and had an amazing time. She told me I should think about applying to go this year, but I never thought I’d actually be able to make it happen. When she left last December I asked her jokingly to bring me home a penguin. This year all of my friends have asked me for a penguin too! I don’t think I’ll be able to bring them one. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures of the sunsets, sunrises, penguins, seals, ice bergs and possibly whales. This is going to be an amazing adventure and I’m glad that I’m going to be experiencing it such a great group.


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All Rights Reserved

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