So Much To Learn.
While Hans has been working in Greenland for five years, Alice and I are new here. Even more, this is my first time working in any Arctic context. As such, the learning curve is steep. Over the course of two weeks, I have been surrounded by incredible science and research, of which I am only in my infancy of understanding. Between the events of Greenland Science Week and talking to Greenlanders involved in many areas of science history, and culture, I am discovering there is so much to learn.
The events of Greenland Science Week and the Arctic Research Conference has been showcasing research, art, business, and development in many areas. Last week in Sisimiut, there were small lectures and the sharing of many different projects both online and in-person. It was like a crash course in arctic history and contemporary society for this newcomer.
This week in Nuuk, the small events associated with Greenland Science Week continued, alongside the Arctic Research Days Conference, and Science Cinema. Even more work was highlighted, showing the variety of topics in focus right now.
The presentations have been both specific and overarching. Projects looking at fine grained data on topics such as narwhal conservation alternate with bigger picture presentations on the direction of Greenlandic research in general. New initiatives are being announced, from new degrees in development at the University of Greenland- Ilisimatusarfik to the drafting of Greenland's National Research Strategy. Overall it feels like this country is at a major turning point and everyone can feel it. Change is coming, both inside and outside. Researchers and the public alike are trying to ensure those changes are beneficial to Greenlanders. Many presenting have spent their lives working and studying in Greenland, either as expats who moved here, outside researchers or as Greenlanders indigenous to this country. As for me, I am only just beginning to learn the unique cultural context, history, and experience of Arctic populations.
A bit of advice for my students, some of whom may go on to be researchers, scientists, managers and professionals working in other cultures. Be prepared to acknowledge what you do not know when you first arrive to a new place. Studying a culture from afar and really knowing it are very different things. If your education and career bring you to a new place, be prepared to spend a lot of time observing. Listen, rather than talk. No matter how educated or experienced you are, if you start work in a place you are not intimately familiar with you will have a lot to learn. This is not to scare you away from venturing out of your professional comfort zone...quite the opposite. In our globalized world, you should seek opportunities to work in international contexts whenever you can. You can't imagine how powerful of an experience it is to put yourself in a brand new place and learn to adapt. But, be prepared to step back and learn. You may plan one thing, only to arrive and find out you need to pivot completely. The best professionals prepare themselves to be resilient and never stop learning. I can't tell you how many times in my life I have thought, "I have so much to learn". Long after you graduate you will be a student. Be ready for that. If you don't let it take you by surprise, it can actually be enjoyable to be in the learning seat again, long after you've graduated.
Brianna N Novotny
11/11/2021 01:04:23 pm
As a future educator, I completely agree with the idea that you never stop learning. Learning about new cultures so important in any field that you may go into. Being prepared with the knowledge you know is the best thing you can you, but never forget the learning aspect of a career.
11/11/2021 05:07:48 pm
I definitely agree that when you first get to a place you have never been to, you should understand that you do not know everything about that place. I think a positive way to look at it is that if you travel to a place you have never been to and you don't really know a lot about it, this gives you the chance to get to know the locals. You get to learn about the area along with learning about their lives and what they do!
11/11/2021 07:58:43 pm
I am happy that Greenland is working so hard to make sure that the changes coming to their rather large island are positive ones. It seems that this whole conference outlining plans for the future was quite the undertaking and I am glad the Greenland has had the foresight to do this.
11/11/2021 09:02:22 pm
One realizes that no matter how much you know of one thing from the outside, it will be a completely new learning experience once you go on the inside. This remind me a lot of the book To Kill a Mocking bird where Atticus Finch famously says “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I know it might be from a different context but I believe this ties in with the post and everything in general. I'm glad that us as your students get the opportunity to learn and grow collectively as a class as you are as well learning new and knowledgeable things.
11/11/2021 11:43:38 pm
I really appreciate the advice here when looking into other cultures, I want to get into understanding this more after getting my bachelors degree in History, I want to get some certification to my International teaching license and teach English as I go for my masters, possibly in Japan. There's a lot to learn here when going to somewhere you don't know anything about. I want to learn more than just the history of Japan through multiple classes but understand the cultural dynamic as well, this helps me be courageous and go through with some of my decisions!
11/12/2021 06:52:34 pm
I think it’s awesome that Greenland is continuing to advance in their research and development! Having these positive new changes and growths will be awesome for teaching and expanding their culture amongst the world! There’s always something new to learn and I think that learning about a new country and culture is always great.
11/12/2021 07:35:54 pm
I enjoyed your advice on learning in an area you're unfamiliar with. I have only ever been to Canada but I couldn't imagine going to a different country for work or school. I would love to do it but it would be so hard to learn and adapt to that culture! I think learning a whole new environment would be extremely hard, but also fun in a way
11/13/2021 05:29:36 pm
Greenland for sure feels like a place where the need for one to step back and observe how life really is seems necessary. In a climate that is so different from the one that you're accustomed to, its certain that the people who thrive in this place go about their daily lives in a way that is shaped by the environmental circumstances they're living in. Also, narwhal conservation is something I'd like to attend a presentation about, these cetaceans seem so other worldly compared to other species of aquatic mammals, and it's no doubt that they too are feeling the impacts of the changing climate.
11/14/2021 06:00:29 am
The narwhal conservation issue is an interesting one...as conservation scientists and traditional Inuit hunters work to compromise with each other. Perhaps there is room for an anthropologist there in helping with what is both an environmental and cultural dilemma :)
11/14/2021 06:50:56 am
I feel like in the face of such a large learning opportunity there are two undeniable responses. There's the excitement of getting to learn all these new things. It's like looking at something with new eyes. But there's also that feeling of being overwhelmed. I think in situations like this both are to some extent unavoidable. But it sounds like there's a lot of interest and opportunity here.
11/14/2021 08:34:23 pm
There is just so much to learn here that I wish I had more time to focus on it. Greenland has so much history that we just aren't shown or taught here in America because we haven't been militaristically involved with them, which is, of course, America's main concerns. Sadly. But regardless, I am eternally grateful that I get to learn what I can now and hope that I can spend time learning more in the future.
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I am an anthropology professor, writer, researcher and global traveler. In fall of 2021, I led an experiential eLearning project connecting US students (and others) with the people, places, and industries of Greenland. I redesigned a research trip into a virtual field trip for my students who didn't have any Study Abroad options. All of the videos, photos, interviews, and storytelling are still here to enjoy!