Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day #3 on the Tundra with Kathryn, our Arctic Explorer!


WHAT A DAY! Today in Churchill was a very busy, educational, and inspiring day. I woke up lying on the small, foam mat I had slept on the previous night and to the smell of bacon. We were soon dressed, fed and out the door to a beautiful morning in Churchill. Our first stop was a little confusing. We were taken to a small cabin on the coast of the arctic ocean. There, we met two elders with native heritage, who had been trappers their whole life. We listened to their stories of hunting and living out in the tundra, as they passed around several of their prized furs. I was very confused why we, "the people out to save animals", were listening to stories of trapping animals(many of which were kind of gruesome). But as they told us more about their life out in the wilderness, she spoke of being one with nature. About taking only what is needed and loving the earth so she will love you back. I learned that people generally think that people who trap animals, hate animals and nature. But these people were probably the most eco-friendly people who loved animals. They used everything from the land, used dog sleds instead of cars, and only took what they needed. I spoke with one of the elders and asked her what she thought our generation was missing, and she responded: "You are not experiencing the earth. You don't just look outside and witness your surroundings anymore. You go by it too fast." This made me understand why we were there and allowed me to apply it to today's society. I think many of us (including me) are always rushing, trying to do something or go somewhere, or we are bored and just sit around watching you tube or playing video games. What we are missing is something I think is very vital to helping our environment; enjoying the world around us. In other words, once in awhile, remember to stop and smell the roses. We all felt it was a very enjoyable and inspiring experience. Then we went to the Polar Bear Holding Facility, in Churchill. There we learned about how they handle all the polar bears that wander into Churchill, contain them, and the different things they use to scare them off. Apparently in Churchill, Halloween is a very big deal. Because all the kids are out in the dark running around in costumes, they are running a big risk of encountering a polar bear or being mistaken for one! So the patrolmen, send helicopters, trucks, and patrol teams out, to be on the look out for polar bears. They even have a bear hot line! It was very cool. After, we saw parts of Churchill (which wasn't much because its so small), went to an Eskimo museum, discussed our group action plan for helping our communities when we return, bonded as we played at the park in town, and many other things before going back to our PBI houses.

Interesting facts of the day:

Permafrost is the frozen layer of ground in the tundra, that stays frozen almost all year round. Because water is unable to soak into this frozen ground, it creates many ponds (and sometimes lakes) all throughout the tundra. At each of these ponds, there is a small eco-system, where big and small animals like to live. But, due to climate change, the permafrost is melting in certain areas, putting the tundra's eco-system at risk.
After a very long and tiring day, we all got together for a great dinner. But when we stepped outside, we saw the NORTHERN LIGHTS! My friend and I sprinted back inside to tell everyone but, in our excitement, we ran into the wrong house!(opps) After sprinting into the correct house, we yelled throughout the house what we had seen. For the next 45 minutes, we all had the most unbelievable and indescribable time! The northern lights don't just sit in the sky, they make waves and dance around the stars! They start off light green and turn into a florescent yellow-green-blue color!( sorry my picture isn't a very good image of it) It is truly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed. We all went absolutely crazy at this magnificent sight! People we yelling and gasping at the moving light and we all got this incredible rush of joy! The whole time was spent hugging each other, gazing at the sky, and remarking that this was what people needed to experience. It was like a big "kom-bi-ya" moment! It was an experience like no other. It made me feel so lucky to be a part of this and to live this with such passionate and wonderful people. With all that we are learning, seeing, and feeling, we have no doubt that we can make a change in our world and educate the people around us. It is such an amazing feeling up here!

-Kathryn Ravey

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