MAJURO — A unique climate change student program sent three north Pacific high school students to the Canadian arctic and Greenland, with a return exchange by Inuit students planned for early in 2018.
The first “Coral and Ice Exchange” climate tour took two students from the Federated States of Micronesia and one from Palau to connect with students from the arctic region to see first hand impacts of climate change on indigenous populations.
The climate exchange was organized by Island Research and Education Initiative or iREi, a Pohnpei-based group focusing on research and educational projects across the Western Pacific, and the Canadian organization Students on Ice.
Dr. Danko Taborosi, who directs iREi, said the aim is to conduct this exchange annually and next year, they hope to include a Marshall Islands student in the exchange program.
“We have just returned from the Arctic (Taborosi and the three students) and are now focused on making a return visit possible by Inuit students from Canada and Greenland to the Micronesian region this coming spring,” he said. “We will also work to make this Coral and Ice Exchange an ongoing, annual event.”
“I saw with my own eyes the melting ice that causes our home islands to erode away,” said Karen Ehmes, a senior from Pohnpei attending Xavier High School in Chuuk State of the FSM. “Being in a small boat in front of a glacier and witnessing icebergs calve from it and fall into the ocean was both really amazing and heartbreaking. The melting of their home is the sinking of my home.”
The Coral and Ice Exchange developed from a personal visit Taborosi made to the Arctic last year when he connected with the Canadian organization Students on Ice.
“They have been organizing educational cruises in the Arctic for 20 years, and half of their participants are typically indigenous students from the Arctic and the rest are mostly students from other parts of Canada but also elsewhere in the world,” he said. “iREi has worked with SOI to create what we are calling a Coral and Ice Exchange — a program designed to connect students from Pacific islands with indigenous students from the Arctic region. This is because those two places are among the most affected by climate change anywhere in the world.”
Taborosi said students learning from each other “helps with adaptations and resilience, and coordinating and acting together makes efforts more effective and indigenous voices amplified on the global scale.”
“Before the expedition, I thought the impacts of climate change were only affecting my islands,” said high school senior Chloe Arnold, who is from Chuuk and attends Xavier High School. “I only knew climate change in the perspective of an islander. When I went on my expedition to the north, I learned that this is a shared issue.”
The climate exchange program has two components: taking Pacific island students to the Arctic region to participate in the Students on Ice educational expeditions, and also bringing Inuit students to the Pacific to participate in custom-made educational and adventure experiences that iREi is creating for them.
The recent visit to the Arctic and Greenland involved students Karen Ehmes of Pohnpei, Chloe Arnold of Chuuk and Dylan Tellei of Palau
“In the future, we hope to continue with three students each year, one Palauan, one FSM, one Marshallese,” said Taborosi.
Source: Google News : http://www.mvariety.com/regional-news/99131-island-students-get-taste-of-arctic-climate-change