Summer 2017 Highlights

September 25, 2017

Rita Mae Keller at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Rita Mae Keller, Class of 2019

Attending the Junior Statesman Program at Princeton University was a great privilege, despite the sleepless nights because of presentations, debates, essays, and tests that came one after the other.  Some of the privileges were excursions we made away from Princeton’s beautiful campus.  We visited the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, as well as the United Nations Headquarters and National September 11 Museum in New York City.

It was a blessing to be a part of JSA as I was able to study at a world class university, and visit places I never dreamed I’d ever go. Being surrounded by fellow high school students and college professors from all over the world not only gave me the chance to learn about the world we live in, but it  also gave me the chance to learn about the way modern society developed.   I saw many historical landmarks that tell the stories from points of view other than my own. Being at JSA with students from outside of Micronesia created an intellectually stimulating, diverse, and enjoyable community.  I will be forever grateful for the friendship, experiences, and knowledge I gained at Princeton last summer.

 

Kedul Andreas at Princeton University.

Kedul Andreas, Class of 2019

Even though I received a full scholarship to attend the Junior Statesman Summer School Program at Princeton University, the notion that I’d be leaving Micronesia for the summer had me a bit upset.  I was afraid I would not have enough time to enjoy my summer vacation.  My attitude changed when I arrived on Princeton’s campus.  JSA instead turned out to be the highlight of my summer “vacation.”

The forty-page readings, presentations, research papers, debates, and many other things challenged us a great deal.  Admittedly, the workload sometimes felt overwhelming.  Because of the people that were there with me, though, I completed all my assignments and turned them in on time.  I learned a great deal last summer, and I enjoyed the challenge.

The experience at Princeton gave me a taste of what college life could be like, and because of that experience, I feel like I am a little more prepared for what college might have in store.  Even though I wasn’t sure I had made right the decision to go, the hardest part of the program was leaving.  Princeton had become my home. I will never forget the challenges and fun times which made it one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

 

 

Chloe Arnold aboard the exploratory vessel “Ocean Endeavor.”

Chloe Arnold, Class of 2018

The Students on Ice expedition to the Arctic was a dream come true for me.  It taught me to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things.

I was given the chance to learn more about the impacts of climate change.  I knew about the effects of climate change on the Pacific, but I was not aware of how it also affects life in the Arctic.  Being concerned with climate change, this expedition gave me the opportunity to learn about it firsthand.  I hope that the experience will inspire others to help prevent further damage to our planet.

Every day on the expedition was a new day of learning.  We did not just stay at sea; we also went on land excursions. I witnessed an announcement of a new marine conservation area, and joined several Isuma (Inuit) workshops.  These workshops included art, writing, and handicrafts. There were also workshops on the history of the people in the Arctic, as well as the flora and fauna there. I was able to learn about how difficult the colonial period was for the Inuit people. Families were separated because of disease and poor treatment by Europeans, and yet they held onto their culture.  The science workshops taught us about the living organisms in the North Pole.  I was able to see the animals that live there, and I learned about the migration of new species into the Arctic ocean.

This program was astonishing. The many different opportunities it offered truly shaped all of the participants and helped us think about our goals for the future. I met so many wonderful students from all over the world. We were all from different countries and yet we had a great deal in common. I gained a great deal of knowledge on climate change and the life and history of the Arctic. This was indeed an experience of a lifetime.

 

Karen Ehems holding a piece of ice in the Arctic.

 

Karen Neva Ehmens, Class of 2018

Imagine three Micronesian teenage students walking on ice and swimming in the Arctic.  Perhaps it seems impossible but it is possible!  In fact, I was one of three islanders to do so over the summer.

Students on Ice is a program that recruits students from all over the world to participate in an expedition in the Arctic and in Antarctica.  This summer, I was selected to participate, with two other Micronesians, in an expedition in the Arctic. The Arctic expedition consists of going up to Resolute Bay in northern Canada by plane, then boarding the expedition ship “Ocean Endeavour,” and exploring the Canadian Arctic and Greenland.

This trip was powerful and life-changing.  I learned a great deal of information about Inuit life, climate change, and even my own mental health and wellness.  This learning experience helped me see the world with a better perspective and to be less judgmental.  There are many people in this world who see things differently than I might.

I also learned about science and biology, reconciliation, Inuit history, and cultures of other countries.  Just by sitting with someone at the dining room table or another part of the ship, I learned so much.  As one of the girls I met said, “Staying on this ship is like staying with a bunch of encyclopedias. When I don’t know something, I just look to my right and someone is going to know at least a little about it.”

This trip was the best experience of my life and I recommend anyone else who has a similar opportunity to take advantage of it.  It’s worth it.

 

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