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UW First U.S. Institution to Host a University of the Arctic student ambassador

Arctic Student Ambassadors 2015
an Lee (center) with Arctic Student Ambassadors from all around the world (02/15).

March 30, 2015

Originally posted: March 2015

In January this year Ian Lee, Earth and Space Sciences, had the opportunity to travel to frigid Tromsø, Norway to participate in the Arctic Frontiers conference held at the University of Tromsø as the U.S. representative for the inaugural group of University of the Arctic (UArctic) Student Ambassadors, comprised of students from various countries including Russia, Canada, Finland, China, Norway and Japan.

The UArctic Student Ambassadors program aims to raise awareness of the High North and its associated issues through the student ambassadors in their respective home regions. The students hail from a wide spectrum of disciplines and backgrounds, such as Caitlyn Baikie (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada) and Alexander Terentjev (Syktyvkar State University, Russia) who represent the indigenous groups of Inuk and Komi respectively. In addition, many of the student ambassadors have had a history of heavy involvement in the Arctic, whether it may be in the field of science, international relations or arts.

During the program, various specialized workshops were held for the student ambassadors such as social media training as well as discussion groups, where the student ambassadors shared Arctic issues from their home region and collectively brainstormed on possible solutions based on commonalities among these issues. Apart from workshops, the student ambassadors also got to personally meet and have discussions with various notable individuals, all who have a keen interest in the Arctic, including Prince Albert II of Monaco and US Special Representative for the Arctic, Admiral Robert J. Papp.

Among one of the highlight of the program for Ian was having the golden opportunity to have a personal meeting with Singapore’s Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Sam Tan. Coming from Singapore himself, it was an opportune meeting up in the High North that has potential for future collaborations back in Singapore to further promote Arctic awareness, a rarity in equator-bound Singapore.

With the conclusion of the UArctic Student Ambassadors program, the students returned to their home region but not without a plan: This being a three-year endeavor, maintaining momentum is crucial to the program’s success so student ambassadors will continue to remain in close contact through various mediums as well as work closely together to promote the Arctic not only in their respective regions, but globally as well. The ambassadors are then set to once again convene in Umeå, Sweden in the middle of this year to share their progress and further develop their ideas.

In Tromsø, Ian also had the opportunity to meet Mike Brown, an alum of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and the 2013 Task Force on Arctic Securities who is currently a Fulbright Scholar at University of Lapland, Finland.

Being based at the University of Washington, Seattle, one of America’s forefront universities in Arctic sciences and policy, Ian is in a great position to further promote the austere beauty of the Arctic. Lykke til!

UArctic Student Ambassadors with Prince Albert in Pictures:

Ian Lee’s participation in the University of the Arctic Youth Ambassador program was made possible by the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, and UW’s Future of Ice.