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Gemma Lloyd: I’ve just come out of Cape Farewell’s Youth Expedition Conference which took place at the RSA today and was organised by Creative Partnerships.

Twelve students were selected to board Noorderlicht, the vessel bound for Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic which became the crew’s temporary home between 14 – 23 September 2007.

Embarking from London, the chosen 15-16 year olds came from schools across the UK, Germany and Canada with the objective to explore climate change and see the very real effects for themselves.  During their trip they responded to the issues from a scientific and artistic point of view, but perhaps paramount to this was the invaluable experience of sharing perspectives from their own cultures and feeding back their discoveries to a much wider audience via online broadcasts.

To assist with the communication and legacy of the project on dry land each school had a ground team who brought the project alive to those who weren’t on the trip – fuelled with pride and purposefulness these students made contact with the media and got the whole school on board in a philosophical sense.

I was totally blown away by the fascinating stories, observations and accounts from such a talented, articulate and positive group of young people.  There was a privileged insight into the perspective from the Inuit community courtesy of Doriana and her teacher who call the Arctic their home.  While Western eyes look at the Polar bear with wonder and spectacle, the Inuit community find their increasingly everyday presence alarming - Polar Bears are solitary animals but have been forced to come into villages to scavenge for food when the ice breaks up and doesn’t return when it should do.

After lunch Josef and Jethro played an acoustic and enchanting rendition of a score that they had written on the boat and we had the opportunity to see Franzi’s innovative short film which ingenuously told the tale of plankton from a fluorescent narrative!

I urge you to look at the site and read these amazing accounts; it was an inspiring and incredibly optimistic day.  Creative Partnerships are now working on a tool kit which will be distributed to schools next year to ensure the outcomes and experiences reach a much wider audience.


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