Westisle Composite High School Grade 11 student Emma Lee Lyon will be spending 15 days on an Arctic adventure this summer.
The Alberton resident will be joining young people from around the world to participate in Students on Ice 2019 Arctic expedition.
Students on Ice (SOI) is a Canadian charitable organization that leads educational expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic for international high school and university students, with a mandate ‘to provide youth, educators and scientists from around the world with learning and teaching opportunities in the Polar Regions, with the goal of fostering new understanding of and respect for the global environment’.
Ms Lyon learned about SOI this past summer after attending a SHED program at the University of British Colombia.
“They did a whole presentation on it and I thought it looked interesting,” she said. “I really liked the idea of having hands-on learning about the climate change that is happening up there and being able to actually see what’s going on.”
Ms Lyon applied to SOI in the fall, going through a lengthy application process.
Chosen from hundreds of applicants across the world, Ms Lyon was then selected as a top 20 finalist by the Leacross Foundation to receive a full scholarship to attend the program. After completing personal essays and statements of experience and leadership, she made it to the final five candidates and was successful in receiving the full tuition scholarship of $14,000.
Ms Lyon said when she got the phone call telling her she had been accepted to the program, she admits she had to let the news sink in at first.
“I was super surprised,” she said. “I was sitting with my mom and dad and I was just smiling. I didn’t know what to say. I was just so excited.”
Ms Lyon leaves for Ottawa July 22 for orientation and then on July 25 she will be boarding a charter flight bound for Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. After a few days in Greenland, the ship Ocean Endeavour will take Ms Lyon and the others across the Davis Strait to Baffin Island. The next several days will see the students visiting various areas and communities across Nunavut ending in Resolute Bay.
The expedition is more than just sightseeing though, as the participants will be involved in workshops, visiting local northern communities, interacting with local elders and more.
“It’s going to be very centered around climate change and the Inuit culture,” explained Ms Lyon. “It’s going to be very educational as well as visiting all the sites.”
Although she’s not sure yet what her future plans are after graduation next year, Ms Lyon does have an interest in the topic of climate change.
“There are going to be so many scientists that are going to be on the boat with us and they know actually what is going on in the Arctic, how climate change is affecting the Arctic,” she said. “It will be really interesting to have that knowledge and not from reading it online, but actually having someone talking to you about it.”
Ms Lyon feels very lucky to be able to experience this once in lifetime opportunity.
“It’s crazy to think from being such a small place that you can have the opportunities that are out there because around here you don’t really think about that,” she said. “A lot of people don’t even think about the opportunities that are there for you to take. I feel really proud to be able to represent my community.”