Today was our final day of the 2018 Arctic Expedition. Despite the endless bounty of knowledge, enthusiasm, conversation topics, opportunities for learning and incredible locations that have characterized this voyage, all great journeys must eventually come to an end. Many participants will tell you that reaching the final day brings with it a complex set of emotions. Some students might be ready to go home while also still feeling a deep sense of belonging on the ship. Others will be transitioning into life post-expedition by thinking about their future and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Some people are energized from the nonstop stimulus of SOI programming. And some are just tired and need alone time.
No matter what students are feeling, there’s no denying that the experience is transformational. Personal growth extends far beyond the days on the ship too, with participants often needing weeks, months and years to fully process their learning this summer.
Day 16 was not only a day of emotional transitioning, but also a day of transitioning between sea, sky, and land. SOI expeditions are always book-ended by air travel. Just like ship navigation, flight schedules can change at the mercy of the elements. This year, inclement weather delayed our 2 planes leaving from Kangerlussuaq, Kalallit Nunaat (Greenland). Because of the risk of missing connecting flights and pick-ups, we were forced to cancel the post-expedition welcome back event at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Despite this change of plans, the travel itself was smooth. Staff and students left us throughout the day, with some of our participants leaving in Iqaluit, some at the Ottawa airport, and some at Carleton University. By Tuesday evening, most participants, excluding a small group of students that had flights the day after, had said their goodbyes.
That’s a wrap! Saying goodbye is never easy, especially after two weeks of intense immersive learning. The good thing is that there are many opportunities for participants to reconnect, whether that means seeing each other in their communities, volunteering in likeminded organizations, or through SOI Alumni Program activities. With such a motivated, skilled, and diverse group of students and educators this year, we’re so excited to see the positive social and environmental change that they inspire.
Finally, we’d like to thank to all the students, staff, partners, communities, and landscapes that played a part in the journey. Keep an eye out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more photo and video of the voyage as we revisit some of our favourite moments in the coming weeks.