Students on Ice: Arctic Dream Journey
July 17 – I am sitting on a plane to Greenland between an ornithologist and an ice hydrologist. Stephane Dion is sitting two rows ahead of me. Just a few seats behind, I hear Rosalie – one of the students WWF is sponsoring on this trip – laughing.
This is her first trip out of the country. We walked through the Ottawa airport together, avoiding the escalators (she’s still not sure about them), as Rosalie held tight to her first-ever passport.
“It’s interesting,” she said to me, “what some of the others are hoping to see. Whales, bears, ice bergs.”
She’s thinking back to a few nights ago, in the over-air-conditioned lecture room on the Carleton campus, when each student stood, introduced themselves along with their vision of this journey. They conjured images of polar bear and narwhal, incredible landscapes of ice. “It’s my dream to see a whale,” one student said. And I smiled quietly, because that is my dream too.
But Rosalie projects an entirely different colour, a different light onto the imagined days ahead. She wants to see Resolute, a community she lived in long ago before moving to Arctic Bay. She wants to see familiar faces, how things have changed. And she wants to see life in the other communities we are visiting.
How much will it be like home? How different? It is, for me, humbling to see this journey through her eyes. A critical reminder that this place, all of these places that lie ahead of us, are a home. A space filled with memories and stories and a history I am only just beginning to really learn.
Greenland ice formation (C)Sara Falconer/ WWF-Canada
As we fly over the Greenland icefields, and the ice expert at my side explains the nature of the bright turquoise lakes of meltwater that appear like jewels in the landscape, I can hardly imagine this is real.
“I keep wondering if I’m really awake,” Rosalie said to me this morning. I know exactly what she means.
To follow the 2013 Arctic Expedition, visit the Students on Ice site.