Aurora Eide: reflecting on the Arctic Circle Assembly

Blog post written by Arctic 2018 alum, Aurora Eide.

Aurora grabs a picture in front of the SOI flag hung up in the delegation’s accommodations.

It’s been over two weeks now since I returned from Iceland. Two weeks since I took part in the Students on Ice delegation. Two weeks since the Arctic Circle conference. Two weeks since this incredible experience where I learned more than I can put into words and forged friendships for a lifetime. How can time pass this fast? At the same time, how can it feel so long ago?

Five days with the delegation felt like five weeks. Every day was filled with an intensive program, interactions, conversations and experiences that moved me in unexpected ways. The journey left my heart and my mind bursting with emotions, new knowledge and inspiration. Once again Students on Ice has turned my life upside down and reminded me of what is important to me, of what kind of person I want to be in this world. I am still processing the experience, very much like I am still processing the Arctic Expedition I went on this summer. One of the SOI delegates from an earlier expedition told me that it was only now, years later, that she was starting to realize the true impact SOI had had on her life. And I think that will be the same for me. I am still so overwhelmed by these experiences it will take me years to truly process them. But right now, in this moment, I am just filled with an enormous gratitude. I am so grateful for SOI and everything they have given me. This has shaped and changed my life in indescribable ways, and I will never take these opportunities for granted.

L: Aurora tells the story of the Hallgrimskirkja Church to the rest of the delegation team. R: The delegations ‘Tree of Knowledge’ created during the debrief at the end of the conference.

The delegation was an intense experience, and it was the most alive I’ve felt since being on the expedition this summer. It was a wonderful opportunity to not only reconnect with the SOI organization and friends from my expedition, but also to connect to a wider alumni network and befriend alumni from expeditions going all the way back to 2009. On the ship this summer every staff member always told us “SOI is family”, and by the end of the trip I truly felt like us 200 onboard had become one big family. But being a part of this alumni delegation I realize the true impact of those words. The entire network consists of more than 2000 alumni around the world – and we are all family. I have never made friends faster than what I did on this delegation. After five days I felt like I had known these people all my life. We spent all our time together, and while I learned incredibly much at the conference, I feel like the greatest learning experiences came from just talking and being together with the 10 other delegation members. And I only wish we could have had more time to get to know each other.

The conference itself was a surreal, inspirational and wonderfully intense experience. With plenary sessions, breakout sessions, panels, speeches and networking, the days were filled from early morning till late in the evening. I went to several talks on topics I was interested in as well as topics I knew nothing about, my goal to learn as much as possible. Some inspirational moments included Iceland’s prime minister talking about climate change, as well as the president of the Norwegian Sámi Parliament talking about Indigenous issues. I also felt incredibly honored to be asked to speak at Students on Ice’s own reception at the conference. To me it felt so good to be able to share my stories and experiences from the Arctic Expedition to a larger audience, and thus being able to give back to an organization who has already given me so much.

Aurora presenting at the SOI Reception as part of the Arctic Circle Assembly program.

This delegation has been a unique journey beyond my wildest imagination. I feel so grateful to have had this opportunity to reconnect to SOI only months after the actual expedition. I feel so supported by the alumni network, and I feel so inspired to take what I have learned into my life. I want to inspire others and work for change in my local communities. In our “what’s next” workshop with the delegation I brainstormed some ideas that I intend to go forward with. I wish to hold presentations in my local schools when I go home for Christmas. I wish to write an article to a newspaper about my experience with Students on Ice. And I want to create an art piece inspired by the Arctic. And from there, where does life go next? Who knows! All I know is that opportunities and new inspiration will be waiting around the corner, just like this delegation came into my life out of nowhere.

If you’re an SOI alum reading this I highly encourage you to apply to future Alumni delegation opportunities (I’ve heard there will be plenty!).

And if you have only just heard about SOI and you’re curious about what it is… Apply! What more can I say. It changes your life. It opens your eyes to the world. It certainly did for me.

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This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.