CAC Post-Retreat Blog: Soomin Han

A reflection on the retreat, first impressions, and anticipation.

            There are few rare moments in life that impact you as much as Students On Ice expedition does, connecting youth to their communities, themselves, nature, and culture; the 5 day retreat with the Climate Action Cohort did just that. We are a group of young, passionate, and determined youth from all across the country with one common goal: engage youth and our communities to take climate action. Under the guidance of Students On Ice and Youth Climate Lab, we will be implementing climate action projects addressing the different intersectional factors of climate change all across Canada.

            What I had really gained from the 5 days with the Climate Action Cohort is a supportive family that understands, encourage, and are passionate about taking action and creating positive change in our communities. There are countless number of things that I have learned but these are the truly important things that have stood out, resonated, or I was reminded of:

  1. We cannot be the expert of EVERYTHING! Many times when attempting to learn or make change, it is easy to be overwhelmed and intimidated by the vast information and research out there. We are however, the experts of our own experiences, thoughts, and what we know! Each person is an expert of a unique background and approach when it comes to addressing an issue, and it is only through cooperation that we fill each others’ voids.
  2. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. There are many incredible initiatives in place that you could become a part of and add to. You do not always need a groundbreaking initiative to make change!
  3. We MUST diversify the narratives presented when having conversations about climate change. There also has to be an acknowledgement of which stories are not ours to tell. Storytelling is a powerful tool, and spaces need to be created to allow stories to be told through personal experience to maximize its effects.

            I had written in my journal during the retreat, “do not fear that you are incapable of making a change or that your actions do not matter, you are more than able to ignite a spark that will create ripple effects”. Doubt is something that had always had its place in the back of my head. Doubt holds me back from being confident in my skills and experiences and it often makes me feel like I may not know enough to try to create change. With doubt, it sometimes feels daunting to try to address such a complex issue such as climate change. For many years, the doubt that I had within myself reinforced the idea that I had to be an expert of all issues, have a groundbreaking epiphany, and change the world. That is definitely not true. I have no idea how I did not fully realize this before, but ‘adding onto the wheel’ is as equally powerful as ‘creating a new wheel from scratch’. This concept shattered my previous mindset. The doubt that I had within myself reinforced the idea that I had to be an expert of all issues, have a groundbreaking epiphany, and change the world. I have come to realize that since I cannot be an expert of all things, I need the expertise of others to fill the voids. It is not always necessary to create a brand new project to make change. There are many preexisting hardworking individuals and organizations working to implement climate action, and I can bring my expertise and enhance their works through cooperation. It is through cooperation and support that influential and groundbreaking changes happen.

            Youth have the power to create, demand, and mobilize change and it is through strong and supportive relationships such as this cohort that catalyze change. Leaving the retreat, I felt empowered by the support that I received, the connections, the solidarity created through respect for different experiences and perspectives, and all around good vibes.

            I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by the ever so inspiring Climate Action Cohort members and staff, and am beyond excited to see what the cohort creates, the impacts that will be made, and what we will achieve together. Stay tuned!!

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