Far away from their homes in Peru and Ghana, Girl Scout Miryam Justo and Girl Guide Yvette Sena Blankson spent a week on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, travelling to the edge of the Arctic sea ice in support of the Save the Arctic campaign. Here is their story:
1. Why did you wish to volunteer for this expedition?
Miryam: To have the chance of being part of something big that could have a real positive impact in the lives of others while visiting one of the most impressive places on Earth, the Arctic!
Sena: Because of climate change and the ongoing World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) campaign against fossil fuels.
2. Best and worst moment from your time on the ship?
Sena: My best moment was when I saw the first polar bear. There really was no worst moment.
Miryam: Best: Impossible to pick one. The ice edge, glaciers, polar bears, 24 hour light, ocean, fresh air, sailing ... and the Arctic Sunrise! Helping out the crew on simple "households", one-on-one conversations with other guests, Greenpeace staff and volunteers and crew members. And, of course, the fact we were in the Arctic! Worst: Seeing all the trash on shore, realising that the ice is disappearing and that this unique and amazing place is changing for worse.
3. How did you feel when you saw the polar bears eating a seal?
Sena: I felt for the seal ... I got a little emotional.
4. Did the midnight sun affect you?
Miryam: It was so weird during the first few days! I couldn't sleep the first night; my brain got a little bit confused. But I kind of like it now... the light means each day is longer and holds more fun.
5. Now that you've been to the Arctic and experienced it first-hand, how do you feel about the scientific prediction that the North Pole could be ice free in 10 to 20 years?
Miryam: I feel truly sad. We need to stop damaging the environment.
6. Why should the Arctic region matter for young people?
Sena: It matters to us because we are the ones going to be alive in coming decades – the results of the loss of sea ice will affect us more since we are young and will experience its impact.
Miryam: The Arctic matters to all! And for young people in particular they will be most affected by climate change and the degradation of the Arctic region.
7. As a Girl Guide, what do you hope that your time on board will contribute towards the struggle to protect the Arctic?
Sena: I hope that my taking part in the filming of a documentary and representing over 10 million Girl Guide members across the world will help in the campaign.
Miryam: I’ve taken part of a video documentary that will be used by WAGGGS for inspiring other young women around the world to dream big and take action and to promote the partnership with Greenpeace.
8. Did you get cold?
Sena and Miryam: Actually it was warmer than expected, and there’s something to be said for a chilly summer ... and of course we had few layers!
9. What’s it like to walk around on an ice floe?
10. How will you use this experience when you return home?
Sena: I am hoping to raise the awareness of climate change with the help of the Ghana Girl Guide Association.
Miryam: I'll spread the word on the Save the Arctic campaign and promote awareness among my family, friends, colleagues, etc. I'll write a report that will be distributed by WAGGGS and I am still thinking on the best way to take action. I still need all the learning from this trip to sink in ...
11. What would you like to say to people reading this?
Sena: We want to encourage you to get involved with the environment and the world in which you live in. You can make a change in the environment for the better.
Miryam: Dream big! Everyone can do a small part in protecting the environment.
12. If you could go on the ship again, and take it wherever you wanted, where would you go?
Sena: The Arctic.
Miryam: Antarctica, Arctic, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, the Baltic sea ... EVERYWHERE.