Richmond student blows hot and cold for polar expedition

A Grade 11 student from Richmond will beat the heat this summer by taking part in an international expedition to Greenland and the Canadian Arctic with a group of polar experts.

Alice Xu will join 111 students from across Canada to see Arctic wildlife, take part in workshops about Arctic history and climate change, traverse icebergs and ice floes by ship, explore the Northwest Passage and many more activities over two weeks.

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“One of my major interests involved in going up north is I will be able to explore sustainability up there because I know that the Arctic is changing, and I’m also really excited to interact with Inuit culture,” says Xu, who left for Ottawa last Friday (July 24).

Perhaps the best part of going will be the fact she won’t have to pay the $11,500 fee after winning a scholarship from the Leacross Foundation for writing a 500-word essay on her reasons for wanting to go on the trip.

Xu says her essay focused on her volunteer work with a Vancouver-based non-profit for youth called Freedom For Our Daughters, which helps provides safe housing for children and women fleeing domestic abuse. She also wrote about her passion for the environment and curiosity about the great white north.

“Sustainability is actually part of my life and I think that I would be able to see photos of the Arctic, but I won’t be connected to the Arctic unless I go up there and witness first-hand what’s going on.”

Xu says she has never been further north of Prince George, B.C.

At first her family didn’t think much of her application because the chances of getting accepted on the expedition was relatively slim.

“But once I told them about how I’m really passionate about going up and seeing first-hand what exactly happens to the environment, they were really on board and they’re really supportive.”

This is the 15th anniversary of the Students on Ice expedition. To learn more and follow their journey, visit

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