Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday July 15 - SOI Arctic 2013 - Day 3

Well, it’s been a very busy couple of days for me here in Ottawa! Friday, I (obviously) arrived safe and sound in Ottawa. As mentioned in my last post, I was supposed to immediately pick up two students arriving from northern Canadian communities (through Edmonton), but as is very common with flights from some of these communities, there were delays and they wouldn’t be getting in until Saturday. So Friday was spent with some much-needed getting organized and low-key activities to build up energy for the days to come.

Saturday rolled around, and in came some of the students. Throughout the day, we slowly picked up three students here, two here, four here… until we finally ended up with 10 students. Nine of them were from northern towns – and one from Switzerland. Ah, SOI diversity was beginning to shine in all its glory! Our early Swiss student – Lucie – appeared to suffer from little jet lag despite arriving at what I would imagine would be near a normal (teenager) bedtime back home.

For us, the adventure was getting started to the Parliament Buildings, for their amazing evening light show Mosaika. I had seen this show last year, and this year didn’t disappoint as well. A sea of humanity covered the grounds of our nation’s seat of government, and through it all, I managed to meet up with a student from my 2011 trip, Gordon from Iqaluit. Gordon and I had a great talk – he’s preparing to start his career by joining Canada’s armed forces this fall, and I couldn’t be prouder of his decision and for even such a short period of time, having had a chance to get to know this amazing and dedicated young man, and I wish him all the best for his future. He even took a few moments to greet the small group of SOI2013 students and pass on some good advice for them as they begin their big adventure.

Then came Sunday, in all its student arrival glory. My assignment – a simple one. Go to the Ottawa airport and stay there all day, greeting students getting off the planes, finding their luggage, and sweeping them out to an eagerly-waiting shuttle driver outside the terminal for transport to Carleton University. Seems simple. I arrived at 7:30am, and right away our first students of the day trickled in. Luggage. Shuttle. Back inside. Another flight. Luggage. Shuttle. Inside. International arrivals. Students. Shuttle. To domestic. Students. Luggage. Shuttle. Domestic again. Students… oh crap, an international flight is getting in. Students get luggage while I’m off to international. Students. Gather other students. Oh crap, luggage for one student didn’t make it. Shuttle. Back inside, more international – yes Mr. Customs, this student is with me and will be leaving Canada at some point (let’s leave out the part about going to Greenland and then BACK to Canada for simplicity’s sake), whatdoyoumeanthatMontrealflightisarrivingearly!..shuttle…luggage….domestic…international…luggage….shuttle…domestic…three domestic flights and one international, no shuttles, luggage delayed…. Ahhhhhh!!!

And I volunteered for that. Willingly. And I would do it again and again and again. Because I get to see all these excited and energetic students first and be the first smiling person they see as they begin one of the most memorable experiences of their young lives. If any SOI staff are reading this – never, ever, take me off of doing this important task. Never.

And then everyone was here. Well, almost everyone. A few missed flights. Some lost luggage. But the team… the SOI family… was home.

And that brings me to today. It was a day of getting to know one another – some introductory education sessions. Some breakout icebreaking activities. Food. Trips to Parliament Hill – this time in the day time with guided tours. And on cabinet shuffle day, too. There was a buzz in the air… or it may have been the sound of taxpayers’ money getting flushed down the drain in the Senate chamber…

Then we were off to the Canadian Museum of Nature’s collection facility (and head office for Students On Ice) in Gatineau, Quebec. This is my third or fourth visit to this facility, and as a museum nerd, it’s a bit like museum porn. The students were fascinated by dinosaur fossils, plant samples, DNA testing and whale skeletons – I was fascinated by the storage system.

Here’s a picture from the fossil collection storage – rows and rows of knowledge.

And then back home to Carleton for supper, more education programs and evening activities. Another typical whirlwind of an SOI day complete.

So I sit here in my dorm room, yawning away. It’s time for sleep – tomorrow we are off to two activities I’ve never done before – a visit to the estate of Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. Then (of course) a hike. Picnic lunch. And in the afternoon – a zip-line ropes course. I never done one before so this could be… interesting…

If I have time to update tomorrow, I will. But it’s an early night, as we have a 4:30am wake-up call on Wednesday for our flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and our home for the following 10 days – the Sea Adventurer!


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like quite the operation, Mike. Glad to hear all the students made it safe and sound. Look forward to reading more as the adventure continues.