I think it is clear that all of us, although in different degrees, came back transformed and inspired from this expedition. Whether it was the powerful testimony of singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards or the humpback whale we saw on a zodiac excursion, this trip allowed us to (as cliché as it sounds) have an experience of a lifetime.
Initially when I was preparing for the expedition, I felt nervous about what to expect and didn’t feel qualified to be part of an expedition as grandiose as this one. Back then I didn’t know what incredible staff and students I would befriend on the 2014 SOI Arctic Expedition.
It was amazing to become surrounded by like-minded and goal-oriented peers for the first time. Many of these students individually were so alive and excited for the present & future. They weren’t afraid to speak about topics that mattered to them, and I felt a great surge of energy and inspiration from solely talking to them. There were many insights I gained from getting to know some of the students: I learned a range of topics from Jamaican rap to systems engineering, I heard the tragic realities of a student living in one of the Northern towns, and I spoke my first words in Inuktitut. All of these students offered something incredible and encouraged me to do the same. I was lucky to have connected with several individuals, and a few who became close friends of mine.
The SOI and cruise staff’s support was also amazing. Never would I have believed that there is more to business than money, and that Arctic hares are one of the most intriguing animals living on the planet. Each SOI staff was unique in their own ways, and helped ignite passion and the thirst for learning in many of the students for the first time in a while. The ship’s staff was always willing to help the SOI team in any way possible, whether that was greeting us with smiles in the morning, or staying up into the late hours of the evening trying to fix the water pipe.
At the conclusion of the expedition, I came back home feeling revitalized. The expedition renewed my mind’s curiosity for knowledge, as well as allowed me to form friendships that will last a lifetime. Although I felt a disconnection from my hometown for the first couple of days, I began to really feel the appreciation for the opportunity that the Leacross Foundation and Students on Ice has given me.
It is without a doubt that I’ll keep in touch with many of the students and staff that were part of the expedition, and encourage them as they pursue their interests. Personally, although transitioning from high school to university will be difficult, I feel lucky to have a new team of students & staff that will guide me through the next chapter of my life.
The 2014 Arctic Expedition explored the Torngat Mountains National Park and the western coast of Greenland July 9-24.
To learn more and retrace the journey through photos, videos and student journals visit studentsonice.com/arctic2014