When Emma told me about the Peace Boat Youth Ambassador program during my internship at YOUTHTOPIA HQ, my first question was, “Where can I apply?”
Fast forward to May 24th and I’m on my way to London to join 11 other youth ambassadors and our program leader, Emilie McGlone. We were selected to be the Peace Boat Youth Ambassadors for the UN Ocean Decade from over 300 applicants to join the inaugural Arctic Voyage. From May 24th-June 14th, we had the incredible opportunity to travel to the UK, Norway and Iceland to conduct field research, meet with ocean NGOs and organizations, and participate and present workshops.
I was lucky to join a group of incredibly talented and interesting youth from Panama, Japan, Hawaii, Cook Islands, Argentina, Palau, St. Lucia, Poland and the US. We all had different ocean focuses, which made for interesting discussions and workshops.
Every day was filled with workshops, hands-on learning, public speaking, and lots of laughter. I could easily overwhelm you with all of our activities, but here are some of my favorites:
- Learning about foraging and sustainably harvesting seaweed in Tromso, Norway
- Seeing puffins, humpback whales, minke whales, harbor porpoises and white beaked dolphins in Akureyri, Iceland
- Hearing from the head of Google Arts and Culture about their “A Coral Chorus” AI fish sound identifying program
- Visiting Svalbard, The Arctic’s northernmost inhabited region in the world where the sun never sets in summer
- Speaking with Asmund Asdal from the Svalbard Seed Vault
- Conducting water testing with EarthEcho International at every port
- Attending workshops and events aboard the Peace Boat
- Learning from the other youth about the ocean-related work that they do in their home countries
- Learning about organizations dedicated to ending whaling in Iceland
- Sailing through the fjords of Norway
As you can tell, there were so many highlights! Not only did we get to learn from so many ocean experts and organizations, including SOA, Arctic Economic Council, Beach Token, Last Whaling Station, UOcean and many others, but we also gave our own workshops! I was so excited to present, that I gave two workshops. One on the role of art in ocean advocacy and change, and the second on the wonderful YOUTHTOPIA! We also delivered three presentations to audiences of 50-100 people about our ocean-related work.
While there were so many incredible moments, what I will remember the most are the friendships that I made with 11 other incredible and inspiring youth ocean advocates. It was so exciting to spend practically 24/7 with people who share common values and are fighting for similar goals in their communities. Although our resources, needs and approaches may differ, we were able to engage openly and thoughtfully in serious conversations and challenged each other’s ways of thinking. Even though most of what we talked about for 3 weeks was quite intense, our group still made time for lots of laughter and joy, which I believe is necessary for having a sustainable career in the climate and ocean space.
Thanks YOUTHTOPIA for sharing this opportunity with me, it truly was the adventure of a lifetime!