Monday, December 26, 2011

I am going to the SOUTH POLE!

Hey, my name is Jonathan Ferrer.  I am a Youth Justice organizer and core leader at UPROSE. My time at UPROSE I have been able to learn about the different environmental burdens that impact my community of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  I have also been given the chance to do something about it.  Over the past two years I have conducted air and water testing, urban forestry, community mapping, and held educational workshops/forums. I've co-organized and facilitated stakeholder meetings in my community to prioritize environmental community concerns and issues. In May, I testified in front of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), where I spoke about the many environmental burdens in Sunset Park and the need to address climate change.  This past summer, I helped organize the 2nd NYC Climate Justice Youth Summit,  where over 300 NYC young people of color came out to learn how to address climate change in their communities.

Being a part of UPROSE Youth Justice and being committed to address climate change in my neighborhood, I was nominated by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to join the Students On Ice expedition to the South Pole this winter. On this expedition I hope to gain more knowledge about climate change, that I can bring back to my community. Sunset Park is faced with many issues from air pollution to a potential storm surge that would cover half of our community. Antarctica represents to me the ability to leave my neighborhood to educate myself then come back and share what I have learned first hand.  When I come back from Antarctica, I would like to use my experience to inspire people to step up and contribute to the multiple things being done to combat climate change. 

I leave for Miami, Fl. tomorrow morning, then head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, then down to Ushaia, Argentina where we get on our ship to head down to Antarctica (I will be traveling from Dec. 27, 2011 to Dec. 30, 2011 until I get on the ship)! I will be blogging through out my trip to the South Pole. STAY TUNED !

Friday, January 14, 2011

Antarctica Expedition 2010-2011

Sorry for the delay. I came back a little sick from all the traveling. For starters the trip was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I've met great students and staff from around the world. Our international group included people from Palestine, Israel, India, Japan, Canada, US and a few others. Hearing everyone accents and learning about their culture made us even closer on our journey to Antarctica. We became one big family and look forward to a reunion.

My journey began December 27. Due to the blizzard our plane was delayed three hours. Those three hours was filled with introducing ourselves, making friends, games of UNO and exploring JFK airport. Amongst those three hours we bonded and I knew right away the trip was going to be great. Before we knew it, we were on the plane to Santiago, Chile. After about 8 hours the plane made a stop in Lima, Peru to get fueled and leave/pick up passengers. Two hours later we arrived to Chile. We all had lunch in Chile airport and we were off to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

We stood in Buenos Aires for about three days and met up with other students and staff traveling from other places. Our time in Buenos Aires was filled with prep ups for the trip to Antarctica, activities to get to know each other and a tour of Buenos Aires. On the tour we got a taste of Argentinean culture and people. We saw important buildings and statues that are great tourist attraction. OH, and the best of all, its summer there this time of year. I guess you can say we spoiled ourselves with the hot weather before hitting the Arctic.

After three days in Buenos Aires, we were on a plane to Ushuaia, Argentina. There we went on the ship and sailed the seas to Antarctica. We spent two days on the Drake Passage and some people enjoyed those days being sea sick. I wasn't badly sick going through it so i was HAPPY about that. On New Years we finally hit the perimeters of Antarctica. We celebrated New Years on the ship with songs and skits from students and staff. We had a blast!

After New Years we reached land and began exploring for a week. We had zodiac cruises seeing glaciers and penguins up close and personal. We hiked up mountains, glaciers and ice caps. I never hiked in my life and what great way to start in Antarctica! Our hikes ranged to about two hours and there were times when I thought I wasn't going to make it. My feet were sliding back and I saw penguins on the side of me climbing like nothing. They were cute and funny to see. If a penguin could do it so can I! I got to the top and my breathe was taken away. It was not because of steep hike and me ready to pass out, it was because of the view. The pictures that I saw for screen savors were right in front of me. It was serial. We took time for ourselves to soak it all in. I was completely at ease and had no tension. I let go of all the negativity that happen in the past and I felt like a new person. At that moment I realized this wasn't only journey to learn about Antarctica, it is a self journey as well. On this journey I connected with nature and reconnected with myself. Back in reality everyone is caught up with work, school, kids, etc and sometimes lose yourself in the process. Being in Antarctica gave me time to learn more about myself and the world. This was truly a memorable experience.

In Antarctica we visited a series of islands where we learned about glaciers and wildlife. We saw Gentoo penguins, Chinstrap penguins, elephant seals, leopard seals and many types of sea birds. We hiked many glaciers and enjoyed sliding down them, especially the steep ones. We visited Science Stations and saw how they lived and did work for long periods of time. Oh and yes there is a store/gift shop in Antarctica. In Port Lockroy, people on expeditions send post cards, buy gifts, and rest a bit. It was nice to see other people and talk about their experiences living there. We also joined the Arctic swim team. In Deception Island there is an active volcano and when you dig deep enough you'll get got water. So the staff dug us an hot tub and after dunking our bodies in the ocean we ran in it. It was an exhilarating experience. When we were not exploring what was around us, we tended workshops on the ship about climate change, glaciology, sea birds, explorers and Antarctica. The workshops were a great way to learn and become an active group of students advocating for a change. Then before we knew it it was time to sail back to Ushuaia and end our journey. Our last day in Antarctica we celebrated Polar Night. We discussed our individual feelings about our expedition, told stories, skits, made songs about Antarctica, and said our goodbyes to the extraordinary continent.

Again I had an AMAZING time. I am so grateful to take part in the expedition. I met extraordinary people and made friendships for life. I thank Students on Ice for an experience of a life time and I thank UPROSE for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to tellings my stories and making a change.

Protect the Poles. Protect the Planet.
Arctic Celi

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bring On the Arctic!!

Sorry blizzard,

I have an expedition to attend to. :D

Tomorrow I leave for my Expedition to Antarctica. I look outside my window and it seems that mother nature is giving me a taste of COLD and SNOWY weather. Well, I think I'm ready for some action. Bring on the snow, penguins, Arctic searches and everything else. I'm ready to explore it all!

If all goes well, destination 1 Santiago, Chile..

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Words of Advice for Celeste :)

Dear Celeste,

I hear you are going to be making a trip down to Antarctica. I'm very fortunate to say that I was one of the few people who also had the honor of saying I have been there. It has been awhile since I was last there but I can remember it like it was yesterday :) So here it goes:

1. Takes lots and lots of pictures, it's proof you were there.
2. Don't lose your passport afterwords because the stamps are really cool.
3. Speak to as many people who you can since there will be people there from all over the world. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
4. Bring something from home just in case you get homesick.
5. Make sure you have a Mp3 player for bed time when you are rocking back and forth and the sun is still shining.
6. Take lots of notes. There are going to be plenty of cool presentations and you are going to want to share them with us. Make sure to blog when you can to keep us updated! Even if it's short.
7. HAVE FUN!!!!!! You're going to Antarctica!!!!!

Safe travels,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bye Bye Skyscrapers. Hello GLACIERS!

Now that finals are over, the expedition is right around the corner. I am excited and anxious for what is in store. When I was younger I had a fascination with polar bears and studies of the Arctic. Now all the things I have read is going to be in arms reach. This is a dream come true! I look forward to learning about the highlights of the Arctic and sharing it with all of you. I will keep you posted on my hiking journey in Buenos Aires to shuttling through glaciers in Antarctica.

I have been involved with UPROSE for a year and half. Through out that time I learned the responsibilities I have as a young Latina in my community. It is the youth's duty to speak out and be informed of the assets and burdens that is within the community. UPROSE taught me communication and leadership skills in order to do so. I have helped organize youth summits, spoke at the MTA student metro cards public hearing, attended a Free Minds, Free People youth summit in Houston, Texas to facilitate a workshop on Environmental Justice, as well as trained up coming youth. This has been a great learning experience and I will continue grow as a youth leader and college student.

Signing out.. Arctic Celi

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today, we the UPROSE Youth Organizers created a blog and told a story about the maps we created.  We added a few markers to our maps and we created a key for our map.  Check it out, click here.  In the future we plan to expand on our maps by adding pictures and videos.  We also plan on using our maps to organize for Fair Share .  If you would like to contribute to our maps have a look at our profile on HabitatMap.