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SOI Alumni Returning for 2016 Arctic Expedition

Once you’ve felt the thrill of a zodiac ride, the serenity of staring out onto a pristine landscape, and the incomparable closeness of a newly acquainted, diverse group of individuals…it is difficult to resist dreaming about embarking on a second adventure with Students on Ice.

This year, six SOI alumni have made this dream a reality. Hannah Sha’afi (2014 Antarctic), Jasveen Brar (2014 Antarctic), Rackley Wren (2014 Antarctic), Robert Adragna (2014 Antarctic), Brielle Tobin (2014 Antarctic), and Cameron Byers (2010 Arctic) will be participating in the 2016 Arctic expedition. We caught up with a few of them to see where their minds are at as the departure date quickly approaches.

Pictures of all returning alumni on their first SOI expeditions. Top from left: Hannah, Jasveen, Rackley Bottom from left: Robert, Brielle, Cameron

All returning alumni on their first SOI expeditions
Top from left: Hannah, Jasveen, Rackley
Bottom from left: Robert, Brielle, Cameron

1) Why did you decide to participate in another expedition with SOI?

“I absolutely loved the students and leaders that I travelled with on my first expedition. I always wanted to go to the Arctic as well so this seemed like the perfect trip.”
-Hannah

“Since [my 2014 Antarctic expedition] I have always been thinking about the poles, I actually ended up changing my degree at university so that I could take a minor in Sustainability so that I could learn more about climate change and sustainability. So when I found out that SOI was doing another expedition, I knew I had to apply, because whats better than the ‘greatest classroom on earth’?”
-Jasveen

“I was inspired by the experience, but also the passion and drive of all the amazing students.”
-Cameron

“The transcendent majesty of the Antarctic filled me with an awe and wonder which continues to influence both my personal philosophy about the meaning of our existence and my motivation to work towards creating positive, sustainable change in the world. I wish to return with SOI to the Arctic in order to continue this process of understanding and growth.”
-Robert

2) What are you most looking forward to about the 2016 Arctic expedition?

“Being able to see some of the leaders again as well as seeing polar bears. The leaders were fantastic and I can’t wait to see them again.”
-Hannah

“I am really looking forward to reuniting with my friends from my previous expedition, as well as meeting everyone who will be part of this expedition. Above all, I am very excited to learn more about the culture and the environment in the Arctic!”
-Jasveen

“Just the chance to actually be there as a student, taking part and understanding everything to the full.”
-Cameron

“I am very excited to visit Aboriginal villages on Baffin Island and to become immersed in Inuit culture. It will be interesting to experience a completely different way of life and to better understand the human dimension of it’s current rapid change. The Arctic as a homeland and the Arctic as Earth’s greatest wilderness are two equally fascinating perspectives that I can’t wait to explore on the expedition.”
-Robert

3) How will your past experience with SOI impact your journey this time around?

“I believe that I will be much more comfortable with the travelling and the experience since I know how it works. I also believe that I will be able to make better friends this time around.”
-Hannah

“As an SOI alumni I feel that I am better prepared for this expedition, I know what to expect and how the workshops and activities are planned out. I also know that although there is a schedule, plans may change because anything can happen in the poles! I’ll also be packing much more efficiently and packing extra memory cards haha as you can never take too many pictures!”
-Jasveen

“This time I really know whats going on. I hope to be able to help other students during our time, before, and when we’re up in the Arctic. I’ll also have a different outlook on the Arctic itself, after spending the past 6 years learning about the challenges the region faces. And also the possible solutions to those issues.”
-Cameron

“The Arctic and Antarctic exist in very different geographical locations and have very different ecological, historical and cultural conditions. However, in many ways, the two poles are really one in the same. Both are frozen landscapes at the ends of the Earth…both have similar histories of exploration and “conquest” by Western powers…most importantly, both are currently under great threat due to the destructive power of climate change.”
-Robert

4) What do you hope to get out of this year’s expedition?

“More memories that will stick with me forever as well as pictures that will capture remarkable sights.”
-Hannah

“I’m really interested in learning more about the culture and the environment in the Arctic. I have recently been selected as one of 360 people from around the world to work on an action plan [for the 17 Sustainable Developlent Goals] this summer at the United Nations…and I will be working on Goal 13: Climate Action…I want to bring more awareness to the need to protect the poles, and I hope to achieve that through this summit.”
-Jasveen

“I hope to take back with me some fantastic memory’s, friends and also yet more inspiration from this summer’s expedition. SOI has meant so much to me since I was up there last, and I hope (and know) that this year will be just as incredible.”
-Cameron

“I wish to leave the realm of 66 degrees North as an ambassador of polar sustainability – ready to share the Arctic’s wonder and the necessity of its preservation with the entire world.”
-Robert

Follow the journey on studentsonice.com, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram! #SOIArctic2016

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