Dear Friends, Family, and other Learners-
If you are reading this, you are perhaps aware that I have nebulous plans to spend the next 12 months in the Arctic. Thanks for your interest!
I'm a fella'. A Watson Fella'. You can read more at the Watson Fellowship website, but as I understand it, the point of the fellowship is to provide young people deemed to have some sort of potential for creating future good (as in, every young person!), an opportunity to be challenged in a foreign setting unknown to them. The carrot each fellow chases that allows them to challenge themselves is their "project." You can read about this year's fellows here.
Unfortunately, not all young people in the world are eligible- they have to be a graduating senior from one of these schools.
I've described my project a little in the "About Me" section below. It ain't set in stone, so I'll keep you updated on my latest thoughts. I'm not allowed to return to the US for 12 months, but all I know is the first leg of my journey.
Tomorrow (Wed. June 29) around dinner time I'll board a flight for a 2 day journey to my home for the next 3 +/- 3 months, Uummannaq, (or, if you prefer wikipedia) a town of 1500 on a small island off of the West coast of Greenland, 590 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle (an imaginary line that encircles the Earth at 66° 33′ 44″ N, demarcating the southernmost locations that have 24hr of light or 24hr of dark at some point during the year).
Thanks to technology, I've been able to skype a bunch with a man named Ole Jorgen Hammeken and his wife Ann Andreasson, who co-coordinate the Uummannaq Polar Institute, where I hope to stay. Ann also runs the Children's Home in Uummannaq, a shelter for battered kids. Even though I'm probably not much older than some of the residents, I hope to help out at the home as much as I can. Most Greenlandic people (56,000 on an island the size of Mexico), have partial indigenous ancestry. That is, their forebears lived in the area before colonizers or others arrived. I'll go into more detail later, but for now, all I will say is that the interactions between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples worldwide have been highly unequal. I'll leave you to guess which side got the better end of the bargain (HINT: in the US, the answer is NOT the Native Americans).
I'm excited to:*
-have 24 hours of sunlight!
-meet the Queen of Denmark (approx. July 13)
-travel in a boat up the west coast of Greenland to Qaanaaq, one of the northernmost settled areas in the world (approx. July 20-Aug. 5)
-learn about Arctic fisheries and marine mammal harvesting
-feed sled dogs
I'm concerned about:*
-feeling cold for an entire year
-being in a place with no agriculture, meaning fresh vegetables or fruit must be flown in
-not having a place to sleep for a long layover in Ilulissat on Thursday night
-connecting with people, especially kids at the Children's Home, with minimal Kalaallisut (Greenlandic language) skills
-separating from my loved/hated American soil and people
-maintaining focus as well as scope for 365 days
-maintaining a positive outlook while spending an entire year in a region that is one of the front lines of climate change, where numerous social ills also exist
*All plans subject to drastic changes, all excitements are concerns, and all concerns are excitements.
Also, I'm somewhat of two minds about a blog. Half of me wants to disconnect as much as possible from all technology and all that is America, but many of you have asked for a blog, which I interpret as a willingness to learn. So, the other half of me wants to capitalize on that and to share my opinions and experiences of travel in a changing world. Please know: as you are the main reason I am creating this blog, I hope to hear your thoughts, approval, disapproval, etc. Otherwise I am liable to cease posting (which I reserve full right to do anyway, if I need to appease my first half).
About this blog
Eaten Earth will be a location for occasional photos, thoughts about the state of the world, and updates on my roaming through Arctic regions.
The title: I feel as though our species is consuming the Earth. As a way of thinking about how to change that, I'll focus on one of the strongest, most culturally important, and most malleable ways we interact with our planet- the actual eating of its bounty. How people eat, what it means for them, and what it means for the Earth, will be an undercurrent to my entire travels. - Alex