Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday July 11, 2013 - SOI Arctic Expedition 2013 - T minus 1 day

So this time around, I promised I’d talk a bit more about what I know about the students on this year’s Arctic Expedition. Anyone who has heard me talk about SOI (which is anyone who will listen), knows that it’s the students that make this whole experience what it is. They are the most diverse, engaging and passionate group of young men and women I have ever had the privilege to come across – and I haven’t even met this year’s bunch!

Their diversity makes each expedition unique and special. In my first four years, the interactions were different – from being Uncle Mike one year, to the DangerKatz in another – if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that no two years will be the same.

Ok, some straight up numbers. Over 80 per cent of the students on SOI expeditions are sponsored, whether it be Prince Albert of Monaco, to various Inuit and First Nations community organizations, to great causes like the Leacross Foundation – just to name a few.

Forty per cent of the students are from Northern communities. This year, there are students representing Pond Inlet, Grise Fiord, Gjoa Haven, Kuujuaq and many others. They are joined by other students from most provinces in Canada… but Manitoba, sadly, is not. My first two expeditions had a Manitoba student in each, but the next two did not. This year, as far as I can tell, also does not have one. This, to me, is a serious gap for us, as we are most definitely a polar province. But for a Manitoban student to go, some organization or company will need to step up and hopefully sponsor one – any takers?

And of course, we’ve got students from across the world as well. The U.S. is well-represented, with students from Washington DC, New York City, Houston, Rhode Island and Tennessee. The Tennessee students are usually the ultimate “fish out of water” expeditioners – often completely unprepared for the experience ahead of them, but completely ready to embrace every minute of it.

Internationally, we’ve got students coming from Switzerland, Norway, Greenland, and Monaco, along with other countries probably – it’s just not clear from their bios. These 80 students and about 40 staff will make up our little family for the next two weeks.

Friday is coming up pretty fast – the bags are ALMOST packed (everything fits!) and I think I’m ready to go. My flight arrives in Ottawa at 1:12pm – and the first two students arrive at 1:49pm! No rest for the wicked – it’s GO time!

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