Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Kangerlussuaq to Ottawa
Arctic 2014 has reached the end of the journey and what an incredible journey it has been! Last night the team enjoyed a huge celebration of the expedition and of all the amazing and unforgettable experiences.
The expedition vessel arrives early this morning in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland where students and staff depart and enjoy an ice cap tour for several hours before boarding the flight for Ottawa.
Once back in Ottawa, students will enjoy some downtime with fellow expeditioners and reflect on their journey. It's an early start Thursday morning as the team leaves for a welcome home celebration at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Update from Expedition Leader Geoff Green:
We arrived to sunny Kangerlussuaq this morning and disembarked our ship the Sea Adventurer for the final time of this expedition. And what an expedition it has been. We have had the most amazing past 12 days. In my 20 years of polar expeditions, this one will easily rank at the very top of the list. It all started with a very special group of youth and an exceptional team of educators. The good karma of this group was off the charts, and might have had something to do with the most beautiful weather we had every single day. We explored new areas, encountered whales, polar bears, muskox and more. We met some incredible people. We connected to nature in ways that will last for lifetimes. It was an emotional journey. There were tears shed almost every day as youth and staff shared, mentored and opened up about life. There were non-stop smiles, laughter, caring, and moments of sheer awe and wonder. I've never been with a group that gave more standing ovations to each other!! Mother Nature outdid herself and we were lost at times in her beauty, and humbled constantly. Glaciers, mountains, ocean, icebergs, flowers…
Greenland Ice Cap - Photo (c) Martin Lipman
Student Journals - July 23, 2014
So this is it.
Everything really ends today.
Today we officially left the ship and in a sense, ended our expedition. We might have went out with a bang from our Variations of Talent show and visiting the Polar Cap in Greenland but it felt like this was it. All the long, jam-packed days seemed to amount to nothing. Despite the life lessons and the knowledge provided, all I can really remember was all the friends I've made and the way they've effected and changed my life. I feel like all I have had to say is either written down in my previous blogs or kept close to my heart to share with those close to me.
This trip has been amazing and although I am sad to be writing my very last blog, I am excited to take everything I've learned and share it with those around me. Because of all the inspirational youth that I am constantly exposed to, I feel confident to start a club or make another one of my clubs better.
There is not much to say but maybe just a few highlights from the past few days (or at least yesterday). So here is the points:
- We went to a fjord yesterday and it was extremely muddy. During our reflection time there, I was walking around and found someone stuck in the mud. I tried to help and I did ... but then I got stuck. So much for helping.
- Second, I was chosen by my school board representatives, Vicky and Mary-Ellen (shout out to Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board), to do an interview for the Brampton Guardian and the Mississauga News. (Which means I'll be in the newspaper by the end of the week)
- A glacier was calving and it was amazing to watch.
- Patricia and I (plus some guy that my family won't know), performed a song (Stay by Rihanna) and we did so good that my ego is bursting.
So this is it. My last blog. Everything I've felt or seen has been in this blog or in my heart. I hope that my blogs have been inspirational or at least good enough for those around me.
North York, Ontario
Today was the BEST! Students on Ice are now officially students on ICE - we hiked around and on top of the Greenland Ice Cap!
However, today was bittersweet because it was our last day on the Sea Adventurer and in Greenland. We left the crew too early in the morning and drove off in our zodiacs for the last time and docked at the end of the world's largest fiord. We boarded "sand busses" (yes, even above the Arctic circle!) and began a scenic and crazy bumpy ride to the ice cap!
Once we arrived and after a short hike, wow! I was inspired by the massive scale of the landscape yet concerned at the many streams forming in the ice cap because of the rising temperatures. Truly a special moment for all to feel on top of the world.
Then we waved a sad goodbye to Kangerlussuaq and our Greenlandic expeditioners and flew to where all the action started: Ottawa! And that is where we are now, writing these blog posts while adjusting to the two hour time zone shift.
A big day tomorrow eating breakfast at the US Embassy (what what!) and celebrating our entire expedition's success at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Most importantly, I would like to thank my sponsors; Schad Foundation, Polar Protectors and the Sadeghi family for helping me to have an experience of a lifetime.
Sadly, tomorrow this amazing expedition will come to an end. In the past two weeks I have made tons of new friends, learnt a great deal about plants, wildlife , native culture, music, the environment and everything in between. I had the opportunity to connect with nature while visiting national parks, climbing mountains and exploring fjords. The experiences I have had helped me learn a lot about myself and the impact have on the world around me. This trip was an eye opening experience and although I am sad to be leaving, I am happy to have been a part of the Students On Ice family.
Postville, Newfoundland & Labrador
This morning was my last wake up on the Sea Adventurer. Today was the final day of our Arctic Expedition. It is so hard to believe that this time has come already; it feels like just yesterday we were jumping off of the zodiacs and onto the ship for the very first time! Time certainly flew by.
After eating breakfast, we cleared out of our rooms and prepared ourselves for departure. Before leaving most of us filled each others 'Warm and Fuzzy' envelopes, which is a great way to make someone's day since in the envelopes you were to write a small compliment directed to a certain person. This awesome idea was thought of by Claire!
Then, announcements were made and it was time to go. Brianna and I went to say our goodbyes to the friendly staff members of the Sea Adventurer before leaving. Those people brightened my trip with their happiness each and every day. It was a sad moment while we drove away from our expedition ship for the very last time.
We came to the docking area in Kangerlussuaq and then boarded the buses that we spent the next few hours on. First, we were taken to the Polar Ice Cap. It was very cool to be completely surrounded by thick ice. At 11:45am, Students On Ice began the drive to the airport. While waiting to get checked in, I picked up the last few Greenlandic gifts for my family.
Soon, we were up in the air and on our way back to where it all started. It was a long, 4-hour flight. But, since I was very tired, I practically slept through it all and before I knew it we were landing in Ottawa.
Back at the Carlton University we all checked into our rooms and settled in before heading over to the pizza party. During this event, Geoff spoke to us about the schedule for tomorrow and it all sounds very pleasing. We will wake up, bring our luggage downstairs, have breakfast at the Carlton Cafeteria once again, then set off to the Museum Of Nature. At the Museum Of Nature there will be some type of gathering to welcome us students and staff back. To my understanding, there are many exciting events to take place and I am really looking forward to it...
Tomorrow will be bittersweet, because I know we will will have fun but it will also be the time for me to go. It will be the official end of my incredible Students On Ice journey. I guess all good things do come to an end. But on the bright side; I am forever thankful to have been apart of this memorable adventure. <3
Coming back to Ottawa feels surreal. Less than seven hours ago, we were on a tundra bus ride from Kangerlussuaq to the Greenland ice sheet. Every glacier we passed by was enormous and supplied enough meltwater to feed the fast-flowing river along the road. When we finally got to the ice sheet, everyone walked around to explore, snap photos, and enjoy what would be our last adventure in Greenland. Some students even played frisbee there while others had a taste of some Greenlandic ice.
Since this is my last blog post, I'd like to share some thoughts I've had about this expedition. The two weeks I spent in Ottawa and aboard the Sea Adventurer have been amazing. I never expected to learn so much about how to appreciate nature, to become fascinated with cultures I had little knowledge of, or to hear the life stories of a former US naval officer, a singer-songwriter, and a CEO of a company stationed in Manhattan. The expedition constantly immersed us in nature and so I've gotten to truly experience the serenity and power of the places we visited. I guess the really special thing about Students on Ice is that it forced us to connect with people and our environment in a way that is difficult--if not almost impossible--to do in a large urban setting. Hearing throat singing, playing Inuit games, and participating in discussions about the social issues that northern communities faced allowed me to gain a better understanding of how northern Canadians live and what their culture is like. Throughout the journey, I realized the things that mattered, the things that didn't, and what I needed to do once I got home to change myself, my family, and my community for the better. Before we left Ottawa, Justin said we would grow to become a family. I didn't quite believe him then, but I believe him now. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this year's Arctic expedition team, and I'll definitely stay in touch with as many of my new "family members" as I can.
Signing off for the last time,
East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Today was the last full day of the expedition.
Going into this trip everyone told me that this will forever change my life, but I thought "What could possibly happen in two weeks that will change the person that has taken me 17 years to become?" To my surprise they were right. It happened slowly, each step occurring without me realizing. Each workshop, zodiac ride or even meal time conversation taught me nuggets of information ranging from the formation of minerals to the similarities between life in the arctic to life in Rhode Island, USA. Slowly I felt myself connecting the dots, making links between science, culture, politics and the arts.
Throughout this trip I learned about the necessity of interdisciplinary teamwork. I learned how scientists need, traditional knowledge to form a baseline, politicians to create funding and reporters to spread awareness about their research. I have always been focused on my goal to become an engineer and found little reason to look at subjects not required to reach this goal but Students on Ice has opened my eyes. This is one example of many of how I have developed and evolved as an individual while on this trip.
Thank you Beatrice Snyder Foundation for sponsoring me and allowing me to participate on this life changing expedition!
Thank you Students on Ice for creating this opportunity for individuals across the world to have this experience.
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Wow! I cannot believe that the two week expedition has come to a conclusion!
The time is around midnight Greenland time so I will write a small reflection.
A few weeks ago, I didn't know what to expect. I felt that I would be less prepared, and therefore less qualified to take part in the expedition than the rest of the team. However, by being part of a such a dynamic and creative group of people, I soon realized that it's the diversity that makes it such an unforgettable experience. I cannot thank the educators, youths, and scientists who made this experience so surreal and one-of-a-kind. I can definitely say that I have become a more educated and passionate individual. I will definitely implement the educational and scientific knowledge I learned on this expedition in whatever field I choose to pursue.
To conclude, I want to say that if you are a youth who is interested in participating in this program, do it. It's truly an unforgettable experience that will have an everlasting impact for you as well as allow you to immerse in activites that will help you to take part in a myriad of activities.
I wish the best for all the SOI staff and students, and I can't wait to see what the future will bring for these amazing individuals.Bon voyage everyone and see you at the reunion!
Guess who's back in Ottawa, Canada? Students on Ice!
Truthfully, it's been a while since I last posted a journal update. And for that, I sincerely apologize. We've returned recently and I am still adjusting to the contrast from being on the swaying and quiet ship to the flat and loud city of Ottawa. It feels good to be back but I already miss the Sea Adventurer with its delicious dining, kind servers and employees, comfortable beds, and more.
Today has been an exhausting day. We woke up bright and early to get ready to leave the ship. The waiters were incredibly nice and said warm goodbyes to the students, including myself. We even took selfies. The staff made me feel more comfortable, particularly those of the same background as me. They helped me reconnect with my language, Tagalog, share stories about what my hometown is like now, and others. I was thankful. I will miss them dearly and their hard work.
Also, we landed in Kangerlussaq, Greenland. May I say, the ride was crazy bumpy. The road to the ice cap was a little unsteady with its constant ups and downs due to uneven ground, the narrow bridges we crossed, and the steep cliffs. Yet, it was pretty awesome. We actually became our title, Students on Ice. We got a chance to step on the ice cap and take several pictures. To see it up close was simply brilliant. The idea to appreciate nature heightened due to the sight.
Our plane ride back to Canada lasted four hours. I watched Captain America 2 once more and listened to music. The food was awesome-lasagna. I like any pasta with tomato sauce, really.
Moreover, this expedition was eye-opening. I am amazed by the landscape and sights I saw. I'm grateful to have gotten such a unique opportunity. The amount of people I've met from plenty of countries was extraordinary. I learned from individuals ranging from China, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, etc. I hope to keep in touch with them regardless of the distance. I gained more knowledge about the Inuit culture and the country I live in as well as the environmental issues of the North.
Students on Ice Expedition 2014 made me realize the significance of nature. As part of the youth, it's vital for us to not stay tuned on our computers and phones. We need to take the time to look around and reflect on what's around us. It's a sort of healing time in this constantly changing world.
I'll miss many things about the expedition (let's hope I'm not getting the post-expedition blues too early). The staff, the friends I made, the sights I saw, and a whole lot more. This blog can't describe the amazing experience I had. I will surely remember it forever.
Thank you for the great memories!
P.S. Mum & dad, and sister, I videotaped this really cool glacier calving and falling into the water. Also, I'll see you all soon!
SERGIO RAEZ VILLANUEVA
This is my last blog of this expedition!
First of all, I must quickly mention that I was not able to share something yesterday since it was a very long and busy day. We were able to get up close to a glacier at Fjord of Eternity. It was rather impressive to be up close to a glacier that touched the water and be able to hearmany loud "cracks" as it shifted around in its interior. We were lucky enough to see a gigantic piece break off and fall into the water and create a beautiful and mesmerizing sight while a big wave shook the zodiacs.
Later on, we landed on a very peaceful landscape and we took some time to be alone and appreciate the greatness of it all, absorbed in the silence that is almost able to speak to the heart as we allow it to speak. At night, we went to bed at 1:00am! But it was very well worth it because many of us perfomed many songs and other talents that are always awesome to hear and see because, truthfully,we can hide them pretty well. I actually sang asong with my friend Emmanuel; it was "Fix You," by Coldplay, and I think that we managed to captivate the crowd. Overall, it was a fantastic night!
Now today is pretty much the last time that I will have the opportunity to type this. I feel that so many things have already happened today that it almost feels surreal. First, we left the Sea Adventurer with all of our things and visited the ice cap in Greenland. We managed to walk on it as it extended well beyond my vision,and it truly humbled me to think that it is thanks to these glaciers that life on Earth can be so balanced.
Afterwards, we were on the plane to go back to Ottawa, and only after a few hours, here I am sitting typying away in the same building where this adventure started. It almost feels as if everything was a dream. I definitely missed the warmer weather though! Before I know it, after all the ceremonies that await tomorrow, I will be home, wondering if everything that occurred were truly real. And yet, it fills me both with joy and melancholy, to think that I will be back soon enough but at the same time to think that I will be gone form all the spectacular people, both students and staff, that I have met. Either way, the memories are always to keep and treasure, and as long as I can recall those chilly but heartwarming moments in the North, then I will always, as they say here, live in the expedition, because this is just the beginning.
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
As you may have noticed, the blogs of late have been sparse, which has simply occurred because of the jam-packed schedules and the incredible days we have had, which unfortunately I have not been capable in describing in these blogs.
In short, today we experienced a very bumpy bus ride to visit the ice cap of Greenland and have lunch there. Along the way, we saw caribou, an arctic hare, and another group even caught a glimpse of a muskox up close.
The saddest part was the early goodbyes to the Greenlanders who stayed behind and did not follow us back to Ottawa, which included two students and an educator. We ended the day with briefings and dinner, which is where I learned that I was randomly chosen to join a group of American students and staff to a breakfast at the American Embassy in Ottawa! I`m pretty excited for this, and after this event, we will be headed to the Museum of Nature one final time where we will be met by a large crowd and begin the festivities that mark the end of such an incredible expedition.
To anyone who is in the position to apply for such a trip or is considering it, whether it be the Arctic or Antarctic, but especially for the Arctic, I would definitely recommend it!
San Francisco, California
Today kind of sucked. I WANTED TO STAY IN GREENLAND FOREVER! The beginning of the day was good because we were still in Greenland and we were out in the water surrounded by amazing cliffs. It was a bitter sweet morning, saying goodbye to the Sea Adventure and all its crew, who I had got to know over the trip.
After we rode ashore on our last zodiac ride, we got on these quite strange looking buses to go to the Greenlandic Ice Cap. On the way we had some great times laughing and singing along to music on the dusty rode. Once at the glacier we hiked through the bumpy terrain of ice. It was absolutely beautiful! I even put my feet in the glacier water, it was so cold my feet felt like they were on fire and were going to fall right off. During the trip I accomplished one main thing i wanted to do on the expedition, see animals. We ended up seeing a baby Arctic Hare, Reindeer, Caribou, and a muskox, it was absolutely fantastic!
The visit went by way too fast, and soon we were back on the bus to the Kangerlussuaq Airport. Just waiting in the airport to check in bags and board the plane was TERRIBLE! I hated thinking about the fact that we were leaving and we would probably never see anything like what we had seen on students on ice.
Every thing we have learned and everything we have seen has been so inspiring and worth all of the preparation. Everything here has definitely helped me grow as a person and inspired me to try and make change. I know everything I am saying is a cliche but it's how I feel and this experience has taught me that it's important the share your feeling and it's good to be yourself! (sorry for all the cheesieness). I wish everyone here the best of luck in the future and that all of their goals or reached in some way. SOI I LOVE YOU! I WILL MISS YOU FOREVER, GREENLAND!
Till next time Greenland! I will come back for you!