Arctic Expedition 2013

Follow the journey : July 23 - August 7

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Daily Journey Updates

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Expedition Update

Today was the first day of the Arctic 2013 Expedition! We are so excited to welcome our 85 students from around the world, and 49 educators from diverse fields. We start off with 3 days of learning and team-building in Ottawa.

Office team members Kathleen, Olivia, Rebecca, and Mary Ellen getting ready to greet our awesome participants for the 2013 Arctic Expedition.


The students are here! Checking in at Carleton University for 3 days of team building and learning.


Hi everyone! On the way to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.


Learning and fun at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.




Getting to know each other at Carleton campus!



Expedition Leader Geoff Green welcomes the team to our first Expedition Briefing for Arctic 2013! 


We have another big day tomorrow, with workshops on the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition; visits to Parliament and the Canadian Museum of Nature; and our first Arctic Hour panel discussion, on the History of the Arctic!


Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!


CTV Ottawa did a feature about the Expedition.  Check it out!


Student Journals - July 14, 2013



Salut les crevettes au soleil! ca vaut la peine de vous appeler les crevettes puisque moi-meme je pourrais potentiellement me considerer comme une crevette en ce moment; a ottawa IL FAIT CHAUD! On est arrive a l universite Carleton ou on passera nos 3 prochains soirs. En fait, pour le moment on a perdu ma valise. Personne ne sait ou elle est et pourquoi elle n etait pas avec les autres. Montreal ou Quebec, quoiqu il en soit... Sinon tout va bien :) Je sais pas trop quoi vous ecrire a part qu a cause de cela, nous sommes arrivees en retard et on a pas pu aller a la plage et visiter le musee de la civilisation. Ciao a demain! Je suis vraiment contente detre ici en ce moment ;) 



Hey y'all! Was a great trip coming to Ottawa although the heat became sweltering. But everyone was so welcoming and friendly it would be hard to be glum. Although somehow, I don't feel to have realized the true extent of my upcoming adventure. I expect there may be only two possible outcomes as far as how the trip may affect my outlook: either make me more cynical or make me more optimistic. Either way, the group of people assembled here is quite extraordinary--and you had thought I was an overachiever! Along with making friends I'm also definitely brushing up on my French. 



Hey everyone!!

So far, the day has been quite busy; I went for an hour-long roller ski this morning and a swim before leaving to catch the train. When I got on the train, I was not sitting beside the other Leacross scholarship recipients. I sat beside another girl with whom I talked until she got off at the station before me, at which point I ventured into the other cars to search for the two other students going on the expedition. I had not been too excited during the hours preceding the train ride, but as soon as I connected with Rosie and Aimee, I started looking forward to the expedition even more. We had a great time on the train and were picked up by Olivia and Roger, after joining Karolanne and Raphaelle. There were staff who gave us our name tags and showed us to our rooms, all in the Carleton Residence. Finally, we picked out our Students on Ice Canada Goose vests which are awesome!! I got the last blue one. We were also given toques and a t-shirt. I am really looking forward to meeting everyone else on the expedition!!




Grosse premiere journee aujourd'hui!! Je suis partie a 8h ce matin en train et je suis arrivee a 3h a Ottawa ou tout le monde de Students on Ice nous attendaient avec un gros sourire. J'ai hate de rencontrer tous les autres etudiants et de finalement partir pour le Nord le 17 juillet! Malgre l'excitation, je commence a ressentir la fatigue du voyage et de ma petite nuit. Je vous redonne des nouvelles un peut plus tard.



How To Pack
By: Jessie Sitnick

These days, leading up to our expedition, are a lesson in how to pack. How to pack for a journey into the unknown. For many of us that means an unknown landscape, for all of us it means an unknown space inside ourselves and with each other. A space we will make by going there. Here in Ottawa, we're learning how to go to this place called the Arctic together.

We are right now a swirl of faces and name badges. We are from everywhere - Memphis, Iqaluit, Pond Inlet, Portugal Cove, Nelson, Oakville, Shanghai. Each of us has had to sit in a room and think about what to bring with us, and what to leave at home. I asked a group of students today, what did you bring and why? Warm clothes - because, well, it will be cold. My iPod - it has photos of my family. Ambition - because I'll need to work hard. What did we leave? My colleague shared that he could not bring pictures of his kids along, it's too hard to look at them. Photos of my kids are glued on the inside of my journal. Some relish the idea of unplugging, of leaving their gadgets behind. Some, I can see, are quietly terrified of it.

Today we had an amazing lecture by David Gray on the Canadian Arctic Expeditions that took place between 1913 and 1918. We find, in the landscape today, the evidence of what was brought. A broken teacup, a silver spoon, a pair of snow goggles carved from ivory. And those who did not plan well, those who did not adapt - those expeditions failed. Because it is about what you bring and what you leave, but perhaps it is also - or even more - about what you find. And what you do with what you find. "I want to take what is essential and find what is essential in the process" I wrote in my journal last night. Today, our director of education said something similar. He quoted Tennyson: I am a part of all that I have met, yet all experience is an arch where through gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and forever when I move.

The space we will be creating together on this journey is a temporary space, a temporary space layered over an ancient and changing one. We will need to find what is essential there and hold on to it. And we need to leave enough room in our bags to bring that home.



What an amazing first day. We toured the museum of civilization and it was absolutely incredible. There was an area that was fixed almost like a small community and I actually felt like I went back in time and was literally IN the community. I learned a little about voudouism which was quite interesting because my ancestors were said to be shamans that were part of a clan called the "crow clan" so it was neat to learn about another culture and way of life. Ottawa is treating me pretty well other than my wicked sunburn. I could get used of no mosquitos or bulldogs swarming me every time I leave the house, but I'm not really enjoying the humidity. It's almost unbearable. I'm pretty homesick for my dogs, friends, my mom and my boyfriend, but the fact that I'm privileged enough to be going on this expedition kind of eases the sick feeling in my stomach. I'll definitely be posting every day for those of you following me from home so I hope you enjoy virtually joining me on this expedition. Don't worry I'll rep Inuvik as best as I can and make sure everyone knows where it is by the end of the expedition. Hope you all enjoy reading my posts! Miss everyone and home like crazy, ESPECIALLY TREVOR :) love you guys and don't forget about me while I'm away lol just kidding. Make sure you keep following us and check out the photos. You can post on Facebook and tag me IF you want ( hint hint ) See you guys in about 2 weeks!



Day One: Plane ride introduction!
Dear Journal,
Wow! Time really does fly. I still remember the first time I ever heard about Students on Ice was around this time last year..

Last summer I was attending a summer camp called Shad Valley where I met some amazing friends including Emma, Margaret and Michelle. We were all sitting on the floor at UNB when Emma suddenly brought up how jealous she was if her friend. Curious, we asked her what her friend was doing. What could be more fun than spending a full summer with a bunch of nerds at Shad Valley? (although, jokes aside, it was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am hoping Students on Ice will be the same!) After our questions, Emma finally went on to tell us about what her friend was up to.

As Emma spoke vivid images of extraordinary Arctic species raced across my mind. The thought of having the chance to visit such a remote and fragile part of the world is just amazing. Emma's friend was participating in an expedition called Students on Ice, a two week trip to Arctic. Sure I learned about the various vegetative species and animals in Geography 3202 and Envirothon, it just is not the same as seeing, feeling and smelling it in person. I want to view the environment with a greater respect, I want to be passionate about saving it, I just wanted to see it! Watching Ale Gore's movie was moving, but it just did not give me the spark that I needed to create a true impact and difference in my community. I knew I needed to go to the Arctic.

When I returned home from New Brunswick the first thing I did apart from showering and eating was look at the Students on Ice website. In absolute awe, I read all of the information, the outstanding biographies, and watched the breath-taking videos.

Months later, I travelled to Saskatchewan for the Canadian Student Leadership Conference. To my amazement, the man whose biography I had read and admired stood in front of me... Geoff Green. Geoff was right there!! The man on the internet. You can only imagine how excited I was. Geoff was there to inspire young leaders to join his expedition during the summer of July 2013. Together, his words of enthusiasm couples with his previous expedition photos sealed the deal... I was going to go to the Arctic and I would do anything in my power to make my dream a reality!

Only moments after watching Geoff's presentation, I ran up to meet him in person, and tell him that I was going to apply for his innovative, once in a life time program! Not only was he encouraging, later he brought one of my hand made duct tape wallets at the trade market, to support Newfoundland's Janeway. While purchasing a wallet, I remember how impressed he was with my selling and creating of wallets, and he told me that I need to apply for his program!

Immediately after receiving the e-mail from Cara-Leigh of the application, I began working on my essays. For hours and hours I wrote the essays, edited them, finalized them and re-read them over and over again - just to make sure there were no mistakes to be seen. I wanted this opportunity more than anything, and so I tweeked my application to perfection.

Then, for what seemed to be forever, I patiently waited on the day we were supposed to hear back from the SOI staff. I waited patiently, calling the office to check on when I would found out if I made the cut! Yes, indeed, I was the annoying anxious five year old child all over again. Yet I was left further on the edge of my seat when the SOI team told the applicants that we would not know whether or not we had made it onto the expedition until a week after. Though that seemed to be years, the e-mail was worth every second of waiting, and every hour of applying... Not only was I notified that I was invited to become a part of the SOI 2013 team, but I was also told I was a top finalist for a scholarship, and that they just had to wait to her back from the sponsor to reconfirm. Well, happy was not even the word to explain the emotions that I felt while reading that e-mail. I must have forwarded it to all of my teachers, and called just about everyone of my family and friends.

Then, all of a sudden, I received the most disappointing news ever. I had lost the funding for the scholarship and I was going to have to fundraise all of the money... I immediately started to make sponsoring sheets to which I handed out to various sponsors.

Things started out slow, I will admit that. Things only really started to pick up after my interview with CBC ratio. All of a sudden, sponsors began to pile up like crazy. A part from having amazing sponsors including Altronics, The National Shoe, McHugh's Bar, State of the Art framing, The Animal Health Care Clinic, Cabot Pest Control and Ford, I had amazing discounts on clothing from The National Shoe, who donated an amazing pair of hiking shoes, Arthur James and Sports Check. Before I knew it, community members began to donate money and Scotia Recycling opened up an account for me so that community members could donate their recyclables. Before no time, the $10,000.00 was fundraised. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Now, I am anxiously sitting on the airplane leaving for Ottawa! I can't wait to meet everyone and I can't thank everyone who helped me enough!

Talk to you later!
Maike van Niekerk :)



Day One: First day of SOI
Dear Journal,
Back again for the second time today, and I am already ready to tell you a bunch of new news! When I arrived from the plane I was met by a cheerful man named Mike. He was standing with a large SOI sign, wearing a huge smile. He began to speak to me about his amazing experience with SOI, and told me some advice for the trip, such as wearing a patch that would prevent motion sickness.

I then was introduced to the "taxi driver" named Kieran. Kieran spoke to me about his true occupation that involved discovering new fossils, and how to Arctic was full of amazing fossils, and still has extraordinary species, of course, including the polar bear.

Before I knew it, I had arrived at the Carleton residence was finally able to meet Shirley, the woman who had been e-mailing me for the past few months. She has encouraged me so much throughout my entire fundraising, which I am extremely grateful for. She handed me my room key, room 209, and I was brought up to my room within the residence. I took a quick shower to clean myself off from the extremely warm weather...

After cleaning up, I returned downstairs to join Clare in sorting out our "swag". Claire and I sorted through the super cool Canada Goose Jackets, I would have never thought that they would have donated so much amazing gear, so I was beyond excited! I also received a Canada Goose hat, as well as, a SOI shirt. I felt thankful for everything that was donated to the SOI team.

When I returned to the residence building, I was surprised and delighted when Shirley asked me if I wanted to be interviewed by CTV news, because of my fundraising story! Of course I said yes to this, I thought it was a great honour.

Before the interview, however, a few of us managed to get down to Moonie beach! Immediately I had the chance to meet some amazing individuals including a fellow Newfoundland mentor, Tiffany, who was representing the Marine institute, a man named David Henry who is a marine educator and conservationist, a guy named Edmund from San Francisco, and a girl named Lucie from Switzerland! Oh! And of course a super cool science teacher from northern Alberta named Rose Lapointe. It was an extremely hot day, and despite the water being a slightly brown colour, all of us felt the need to go for a little dip in the water.

It was only at the beach for around an hour or so before I had to return for my interview. Along with myself, a guy from Rhode Island named Spencer Darveau, who won a scholarship to come to the Arctic, was getting interviewed. The interview went over really well, we were asked questions that I had always been thinking to myself about... Why do I want to be here? What do I want to learn?

After getting some lunch we began to make our way to the bus that ook us to The Canadian Museum of Civilization. There, Lucie, Tiffany, and myself had an amazing time. A part from learning and seeing some amazing things in "First Peoples Hall", as well as the "Special Exhibitions" gallery, perhaps the most fun to be found was in the "Canadian Children's Museum"! There, us three girls really began to bond as we took pictures dressed up, in an astonishing theatre, pretending to drive a disco bus, and had our "passport" stamped at all the different stations. It was great!

When we returned from the museum, we had a quick supper, and then were given an introductory presentation by the amazing found of SOI, Geoff Green. He told us we were travelling to Western Greenland and then to Eastern Arctic, were we would be having some encounters with Arctic wildlife (hopefully polar bears!!), workshops, zodiac cruises, hikes, hands-on research activities, as well as, visiting Northern communities, to attend events and learn about the native people's culture. He spoke about some rules and regulations, and then discussed that flexibility is key and so is good karma!

I feel absolutely honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to meet all of these incredible youth and inspiring mentors, and I just cannot wait to get on the Sea Adventurer and share these amazing discoveries and self realizations with them!

Once again, I would like to thank CBC ratio, Sports Check, Arthur James, The National Shoe, Altronicds, State of the Art framing, McHugh's Bar, The Animal Health Care Centre, Ford, Cabot Pest Control, and Scotia Recycling, you guys are amazing! And to all of the community members that helped me achieve me dream!

Talk to you soon,
Maike van Niekerk:)



Since arriving in Ottawa, it has been quite enjoyable exchanging stories and facts about my home town with others from all the different countries. It has been great to meet with Tor and Marius who live in Norway where things are much different, such as Parliament, but have many things in common like sports and the love for being outdoors in the snow.  



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