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Taking the CAE to China

posted March 17, 2014

I am now half way through my 2-week visit in China. I was invited by the Canada Consulate in Shanghai to bring the story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, and the Canadian Arctic in general, to the people of China; four cities, two weeks. In Shanghai, I spoke to 400 students at the Shanghai Community International School, staff at the Polar Research Institute of China*, students and researchers at the Tongji University’s Polar Research Center, and the Shanghai International Literary Festival. (* This is the group that operates China’s icebreaker that was in the Antarctic news this winter.)

In Wuhan, west of Shanghai, we had a good exchange with the researchers at the Polar Center of Wuhan University. The Chinese are very interested in exchange programs, the Northwest Passage, and global warming. I also spoke to a great group of enthusiastic students there and we had lots of fun with questions about everything from mating habits of Arctic hares to Canadian coins with animals on them!

At each venue I have been showing our new 10-minute video, “Fading Footsteps,” about our 2013 expedition to Banks Island, and one of three presentations on the Arctic; The Arctic Year (about wildlife through the seasons), Across the Arctic (northern communities and people), and CAE 2013 (more about our expedition goals and achievements).

The next two stops are Chengdu (Panda bear country) and then Beijing. It has been amazing so far. Some culture shock in comparing Sachs Harbour’s population of 130 people, to the many millions who live in these immense Chinese cities. And the air pollution seems an insurmountable problem. But, the people have been very welcoming, greatly interested in Canada’s Arctic, and grateful for the opportunity for learning. So I am really pleased to be part of all this….