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Richmond students learn about climate change in land of fire and ice

Richmond Secondary students expand perspectives on global climate change.

Flowing lava and smoke coming from an active volcano was the last thing 13 Richmond students and two teachers thought they would see when they stepped foot out of the airport in the land of fire and ice.

A group of Richmond Secondary's geography students embarked on a week-long trip to Iceland from May 29 to June 4 as part of the school's IB Geography course.

A minor volcanic eruption occurred just as they left the airport in a tour bus, explained Rakshkin Kandola, Richmond Secondary teacher.

"It was not that far, maybe four kilometres away or something from the road. It was pretty surreal that we were there during this active volcano," said Kandola.

"We couldn't believe it that it was right there. It was pretty special."

Kandola told the Richmond News that a volcano had erupted one hour before the class boarded the plane, but she was reassured by the tour director in Iceland that everything was still safe and okay.

"She said, 'Don't worry about the volcano erupting. It's far away. It's like an every day occurrence and it's all good.' So that was reassuring for us."

The geography class explored Iceland's landscapes, history and dynamic geography starting in the capital Reykajavik, and moving on to a glacier tour, the Golden Circle tour and other landmarks including the Sky Lagoon.

The biggest takeaway for the students was for them to "expand their perspective on the world," said Kandola.

Iceland is a great example of how a country can harness natural resources sustainably and take actions to capture carbon from the environment, she added.

"It was a way for them to look at the world and the relationship between the natural geography and the human geography and kind of see how they are both connected because Iceland...only has a population of around 400,000 people."

Kandola explained the people of Iceland respect nature and the country has many climate change-related initiatives that they are working on with "vertical renewable resources like geothermal energy and carbon capturing."

On the trip, the two things the students got out of the trip was an expansion of their world view and the realization they need to start thinking about climate change, Kandola explained.

While the trip was far from affordable, Kandola said they received a grant to help with the cost.

A grant of $6,000 from the Richmond International Education Intercultural Bursary fund was awarded to the class.

Students paid a flat rate of $5,000, including flights, accommodations, tours and food.

"It wasn't cheap for a week, but it is Iceland and things do cost a lot more there," said Kandola.

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