CORNER BROOK — Terri Woods-Boone just returned from a trip of a lifetime to the Arctic and, now that she has seen a real walrus, she knows what she wants to do next.
The 15-year-old from Corner Brook spent the first two weeks of August participating in the Students on Ice program, exploring Baffin Island in the Canadian north and the coastline of Greenland across the Davis Strait.
"I'd like to get a job here (in Corner Brook) and go on the Antarctic trip now," said Woods-Boone. "Then I could do a presentation comparing the Arctic to the Antarctic."
Students on Ice does have an Antarctic program and some of the young people who just did the Arctic program with Woods-Boone have been there.
"They said it's really different in the Antarctic," she said. "I really want to see penguins now."
Woods-Boone will be preparing a slideshow presentation of what she did see for the Dunfield Park Community Centre in the coming weeks. The centre nominated her for a scholarship through the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation which allowed her to apply to the Students on Ice program.
Her presentation, including video footage, will be a showcase of amazing images of breathtaking scenery, awesome wildlife and aboriginal culture. She'll likely show off the plush walrus she bought, along with other souvenirs and memories from the experience.
During the expedition, the 80 or so youth from around he world saw walruses, bowhead whales, polar bears and loads of other interesting sights. They also learned about climate change and the geography of the Arctic during daily educational sessions both onshore and aboard the Akademik Ioffe, the polar expedition ship that took them on the journey.
"We learned a lot about the climate and how we should stop polluting the air so much because it is melting the ice and the glaciers," she said.
Ironically, it was excessive sea ice that delayed the group in Iqaluit an extra two days while they waited for the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Des Groseilliers to come help them reach the Akademik Ioffe.
That meant a couple of stops on the original itinerary had to be cut out in order to make up the lost time.
Still, Woods-Boone had a blast getting to know her new friends and getting acquainted with Arctic cultural traditions like Greenlandic mask dancing, an entertaining ritual used to educate children about coping with fear.
The people they encountered along the way were quite friendly, although no amount of mask dancing was going to convince Woods-Boone to try all of the local delicacies offered to her.
"In one of the places we went, all the kids were there waiting to meet us on the deck as soon as we arrived," she said. "They had this party planned and they wanted me to try whale, but I didn't."
She did try breast meat from some Arctic bird she couldn't remember the name of.
Some of the group, though not Woods-Boone, even participated in a swim in the Arctic Ocean.
"Some of them only got out as far as their ankles because it was so cold, but some of them actually went swimming," she said.
For one of the final workshops she took in, Woods-Boone chose to participate in one that focused on the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation. They discussed the creation of a website that would offer up ideas about how to make schools in the Arctic region better.
All of the youth took part in the trip for their own personal reasons. One girl read a poem about a troubled youth and, after she had finished, revealed that she was the subject of the poem.
After hearing the poem, Woods-Boone now wants to create a website aimed at helping young people in similar situations.
"I am going to contact her and see if I can use her poem as the main message on the website," she said.
For a daily account, including photos and videos, of the Students on Ice expedition, check out the website www.studentsonice.com.