So late last night or early this morning, depending how you look at it, I got really sick. Needless to say my stomach hasn't been doing well today. I feel fine, but my stomach doesn't.
I've tried to push through though. After a very light breakfast of toast and water we had an orientation for the day. Just before lunch there was a Polar Bear sighting. The first one on the first full day. The exciting thing was that it was eating a seal on a piece of ice. You know when the staff gets excited it's really something exciting. One of the crew members came out to the deck with a sign that read, "Lunch is Ready" -- he had to hold up a sign because we must be really quiet on the deck when there are bears so that we don't scare it away. We were able to watch it for a while before it went into the water in the opposite direction. That's when the seagulls swooped in.
Just when we thought we could go into lunch we started turning because one of the crew members on the deck had spotted walruses. I will tell you they looked like blobs in the distance, but one stuck its head up and we could see the tusks clearly (in my binoculars). The most unfortunate thing of this experience was my lack of a powerful camera lens. I could only get some small pictures, but you can clearly see, so hopefully it will be okay. On the upside, I do have 20 megapixel camera so hopefully that will make up for lack of lens.
Since I hadn't been feeling the best, well feeling queazy, I went to lay down for about 30 minutes after lunch. Then just before my alarm went off Lucho, the Expedition Leader came on the announcement to tell us that we were in a cove with the big glaciers. I got up and went outside and it was beautiful. It's difficult to describe the beauty and serenity of the ice here.
This was about the time they called for a hiking excursion, we had the option of a long or medium. After vacillating for a little bit I decided to test myself on the medium hike. It was a good choice. We did and saw pretty much the same things as the long hike with less strain. Walking on the tundra is a really fun experience. The ground is spongy and bouncy. It is a lot of fun. I stayed out there until the last zodiac came.
I had several great conversations with some of the guests. They are so interesting. Tonight for dinner I ate with sisters from Singapore. They were great dinner companions and we had an interesting conversation about education and life in Singapore.
Just before dessert there was another polar bear sighting. This time is was a momma bear with her cub and the cub was cute and playful. I will say my pictures weren't the best. I decided to get a video because the cub was running and playing. They came close to the boat then turned and walked away. Off in the distance we could see seals with our binoculars. They looked like blobs though.
I went back and had a very light rhubarb dessert (the only reason I ate any dessert was because I was feeling a little better and it looked really good) then decided to head up to the Bridge to type this daily recap. Now we are getting ready to go through big chunks of ice. It may be a little loud for a while, but the 2nd mate on duty is working on avoiding them. We've only hit one so far, so that's impressive.
I had a great conversation with Keith Larson a Climatologists professor in Sweden. He gave me some great curriculum project ideas. We talked about how the Earth's climate goes through warming and cooling cycles. Looking at the trend we should technically be going through a cooling cycle with the climate, but we're not. The climate is shifting into a warming trend. He said that although humans are only causing a small percentage of climate change, but it's enough to cause a big difference. Apparently there is more carbon frozen in the ice and as the ice melts even more carbon is let out into the atmosphere causing even more change. The human factor, although small is like a small diversion off a path, it starts out small but eventually leaves a huge gap.
Short video of the momma bear and her cub as they came up to the ship during a hunting expedition. It was so fun to watch the cub play behind mom, but would also follow her silent commands. Video by Merinda Davis
Equality and Balance
Meet the NorthThe Lindblad Expedition Naturalists were amazing. They inspired me in so many ways by who they are and what they taught me. Jennifer Kingsley and my mentor Eric Guth who are young inspiring explorers. They are working on a project called, "Meet the North" #MeettheNorth @MeettheNorth MeettheNorth.org.
Talking with Jenny, she gave me the idea for the Model Arctic Council project that my students will be participating in. Eric taught me about the ice, the stories the ice tells. I could go on, but I will make another post specifically about all of the amazing naturalists. The take-away should be that you need to follow @meetthenorth. Where are the people?Prior the the expedition I was in Oslo and had the opportunity to go to the Nobel Peace Museum. It was such an inspiration that while on the Explorer ship visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, I often thought back to that experience. I struggled with trying to find the 'right' focus, since I am so passionate about equality. As a social scientist, my interest lay with the people and the human impact on the environment. Then I remembered that equality is more than just the people, it is also the environment. Current climate change arguments have brought to mind the inspiration I gained from the arctic environment. Nowhere in the world is that argument about climate change more prevalent than in the arctic region. The egocentrism of people is such that they feel it is either all human caused or all natural, when really it is the environment's natural reaction to human action. It is not one or the other, but rather the interaction of both. I think this is a lesson, not just about how we understand and treat the environment, but also how we treat other people. There needs to be a balance and an understanding of the consequences of our actions. A balanced curriculumThis is why I feel that I need to have a balance in my curriculum. The first semester is focused on teaching geography literacy skills with an emphasis on the environment. My goal is to facilitate opportunities for my students to become environmental stewards. Second semester is focused on the historical literacy skills with an emphasis on human rights. My goal is to empower my students to be positively involved in their local and global communities.
Mt. Fuji from the train
I know I haven't posted in a few days, but I've been tired. Anyway, here's a brief recap: my Kyoto experience was different than I thought it would be. I went to all of the sites I had planned, I just didn't end up seeing what I had planned, if that makes any sense. Anyway here are some pics. And today was just meetings, a reception at the Deputy Ambassador Generals house, and then out with some of the Japanese teachers :)
Last day in Nara, Japan
So the last day in Nara...so sad. I love Nara. I will definitely take the spirit of Nara in my heart. This is a beautiful, historical and amazing city. I really enjoyed visiting all of the schools and meeting so many wonderful people. I will truly never forget the time I spent here and the feeling of this place. Today we visited 2 junior high schools. The first was in the mountains with only 40 students, but what a beautiful campus. This is where I was able to get a lesson in playing the Koto, a traditional Japanese string instrument. It might shock Dallin, but I think I could learn how to play it. It was so much fun and easier than I thought. Then we received traditional Japanese manor lessons: almost an hour on the proper way to bow both standing and kneeling. Then we were served tea the proper way by students, they even have a little pick to cut the desert. We enjoyed lunch with the students, though it was the same school lunch as yesterday it was very delicious. During lung there was a radio broadcast presented by the students. It was so funny, they were playing American pop music. I think it was safe to say we were all a little surprised that they played KESHA during lunch, though I guess with the language barriers it's not as big of a deal. Then we went to another junior high, probably the school that was closer to the type of schools most of us are used to (high populations of low income and high risk students) they were starting to implement a system of group learning rather than lecture style, which is how I teach but apparently it's really hard for Japanese teachers to learn how to do. Pretty much all of the students were young and single, they usually stay late and Saturdays. It was really interesting dynamic at this school, it seems so familiar to me. I got a lot out of it. Then we went to the 100 yen store followed by conveyer belt sushi and karaoke. All in all a great day. I will truly miss Nara I have made some amazing friends and had a once in a lifetime experience. Tomorrow it's on to Kyoto. <side note: everything in Japan is so cute even the elevator warning signs and the construction workers> oh and the ice cream sundae contained corn flakes...
Japan - Day 5 -
I seriously think they hand picked a good friend for me when they chose my home stay family. Mai is so awesome. I wish we lived closer together so we could hang out more. After spending some one in downtown Osaka last night, we were able to sleep in a little for our eventful day. We started off with a nice walk through her neighborhood before catching the train downtown Nara. We went to the rooftop of the city offices (which is usually closed to the public except for today) where we had an amazing view of Nara followed by brunch at the street vendors out front. We went to the 1st half of a Noh performance then we went to her student's musical. Both really well put together shows, too bad neither permitted photos. Then we wandered through the shops, saw some pagodas and temples. We snacked at a cafe and then met back at the hotel. I went to dinner with some of the program members and we visited an arcade ( I don't known hat they are called here, but the upper floors were like gambling halls) ...lots of food, new friend, many lasting memories.