Chloe Arnold on Coral and Ice Exchange

When I was introduced to the Coral & Ice Exchange program developed by Island Research & Education Initiative (iREi) and Students On Ice (SOI), I was drawn in by its goal which was to educate youth about climate change. As an islander, I first learned about climate change through my school, where it taught me that climate change would impact the people living on small islands like mine. So when the opportunity presented itself -- a trip to the north to learn about climate change -- I had to take it. And believe me, the Arctic expedition was an eye opener.
Before the expedition, I thought the impacts of climate change were only affecting my islands. I only knew climate change in the perspective of an islander. When I went on my expedition to the north, I began to see climate change from different perspectives. I learned that this is a shared issue. In the North, people suffer tragic loss every year because of global warming. The melting ice in the North is causing huge environmental, cultural, and social changes. Sea level rise threatens low lying islands in the Pacific. All over the world, natural disasters occur. I thought I could not do anything to help and that I could only sit by and watch these problems happen. The expedition told me otherwise. The trip taught me that no matter how young I was, I could still join hands to help prevent climate change. The Arctic expedition offered much more.
The expedition offered a chance to see what an island girl like me could only see in pictures. On every daily excursion on land, I was amazed by the beautiful landscape, the ice caps, glaciers, sea ice and the living organisms. The islands I visited were filled with so much history about the Inuit and past whalers and explorers. I got to learn about the history of the Inuit on one of their historical sites. I could only imagine what they had gone through during the winter and how much hardship they had to endure. The trip to the north introduced me to the fascinating Inuit culture. A culture that was so similar to mine. Who knew places so distant could share so much in common? For me, learning about their culture was one of the best highlights of the trip.
The Arctic expedition was indeed an experience of a lifetime. For a while, I could not believe that I was actually in the north. Because of this expedition, I now know what I want to become in life. This was so much more than a trip to the North Pole. I was taught to get out of my comfort zone and experience new extraordinary things. I learned and experience so much in less than three weeks. I met so many wonderful people from all across the globe. We created friendships that are sure to last and help us in the future. By the end of the trip, we all had one ambition which was to protect the planet.