An Epic Trek from Africa to the Arctic

Co-Facilitator, Global Alumni Network

On June 12th this year, I was invited to speak as a guest lecturer on the topic of climate change to a public audience convened by the department of Zoology and wildlife Conservation at the University of Dar es Salaam. The talk was titled “The Polar Bear Talks: Tales of an Epic Trek from Africa to Arctic” to signify the increasing vulnerability of the polar bear population resulting from habitat loss as global warming increases. Additionally, the title also signified curiosity among youth who wanted to hear the story of my experience before and during the expedition in the Arctic and after for inspiration and motivational purposes.

Audience members stated interest in learning more about polar bears, climate change issues, solutions, and what I would be doing next. I shared lessons I had learned from the generosity I experienced from people who undoubtedly supported me financially and materially. I answered questions on how I conducted crowdfunding, sought corporate sponsorship and individual donations. The fundraising process was possible thanks to the guidance and mentorship I had received from the Expedition team leaders.

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I had spent more time speaking about the climate change problem, sharing historical developments of the warming, united efforts by different countries, current strategies in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and limited how much I spoke about the possible solutions with using green energy sources. I felt it was more important, for this session, to focus on helping my audience understand the nature of the problem well enough prior to the discussion about solutions.

At the end of the session, some audience members requested a follow up session to discuss solutions. I was encouraged by some audience members to continue planning for my sustainability center idea, which was my project plan after returning from the Arctic. Some audience members made themselves available to join the efforts and work alongside me to promote convenient solutions and sustainability ideas. This opportunity to present helped me a lot in practicing my public speaking skills and understanding the demand for more awareness on this topic, particularly here in Dar Es Salaam. I will use the insights gathered from the talk to expand my presentation and be even more prepared for the next opportunity to speak.

My confidence to lead this session emanated from a deeper understanding of principles of GATHER. One of such principles is the emphasis on empowering those located closest to the challenges, while constantly inquiring about what really matters to them, and who gets to be a part of making that decision. While the negative impacts of climate change affects everyone, people in the poor economies, such as my country, suffer the most due to our lack of capacity to adapt fast enough. As a GATHER graduate, I am responsible for exercising my knowledge by partnering with my community to lead changes necessary in combating the effects of climate change.

The world would become a much better place if more individuals could learn effective principles of grassroots leadership and create partnerships for global change. If you know someone aspiring to learn and partner with a growing global community of practice, share with them an opportunity to join the 2021 Goldin Global Fellows program.

As Jane Goodall says, “Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.”

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