Initial reflections working with refugees

Dear Class of 1957,

I have always been passionate in making people feel welcome in communities I care about. As a student of international relations, I am also fascinated by the consequences of wars, politics, and rivalries between world powers. Interning with the Asylee Case Management team at the International Rescue Committee’ resettlement office in Baltimore provides me the unique ability to combine both of these interests, to work with people fleeing war and persecution from around the world, and to welcome them into their new American communities.

Most people fleeing persecution are refugees: people who are granted a US immigration visa while living in camps abroad, are flown to the USA, and resettled by a private agency with funding from the State Department (like the International Rescue Committee). However, many people fleeing persecution are not processed through these typical refugee resettlement pipelines. My department within the IRC works with these irregular cases. Many of our clients are asylees, who come to the United States fleeing persecution, then were granted asylum after applying through the US court system. Others are refugees who moved to Baltimore a few weeks after arriving in another state. Others still are victims of human trafficking, immigrants from Afghanistan or Iraq who helped the USA during wars, and Cuban parolees.

Our department meets directly with over two hundred asylees and refugees, helping them receive professional medical care, food stamps, employment and financial assistance. There are only two case managers working in the asylee department, so I have been given immense responsibility over these cases. I meet directly with clients, listen to their stories, and figure out ways that they can better adapt to their new American lives. Often I meet with government agencies, such as the Department of Social Services, to help enroll asylees in Obamacare and food stamp programs. I also distribute State-Department funded checks to clients each month, to help them pay for their rent, gas, and other necessities.

At Dartmouth, I study refugee and migration issues at a policy level, examining how wars, ethnic conflict, and political persecution can influence countries around the world. Viewing conflicts through this broad, academic frame of study, it’s easy to lose touch with the individual people at risk. Working at the IRC has changed that for me. I no longer think of the conflicts solely in terms of statistics or the government policies that caused them. Rather, I think of the individual people at stake, the doctors, farmers and businessmen I have met who fled conflicts and found their way to Baltimore. I think of the mothers from Cameroon who wait eight years to reconnect with their husbands, and the young Eritrean men recently released from mandatory military service, detained and tortured due to their ethnicity. I think of the patriotic Afghani teachers who spent years interpreting for the US army, only to be robbed at gunpoint upon moving to their new Baltimore community. Excited people, fearful people, people passionate and frustrated and eager to accomplish incredible dreams: these are no longer just the faces of complex global conflicts, but also the leaders of up and coming neighborhoods across America.

Thank you very much for funding my internship with the organization. I am humbled to have the opportunity to work with an inspiring team of diverse individuals, an opportunity I could not have taken without your support. You all are making an immense impact on my course of study and my outlook on refugee issues, and for that I will always be grateful.

Best, Milan Chuttani ‘18

(picture caption: Patric (far right) and his extended family in the International Rescue Committee’s resettlement shop. Patric was resettled in Baltimore over a year ago from his home in Eastern Congo. He is currently sponsoring almost dozen other refugees at his Baltimore home.)

Arctic explorations from the comforts of campus!

Nose red and fingers frozen, I stepped out of the arctic wind and into the welcome warmth of Rauner Special Collections Library. Okay, maybe “arctic” is an exaggeration – but the 25-degree Hanover weather really helped me empathize with the men of Adolphus Greely’s 1881 polar expedition aboard the ship Proteus. Although physically thousands of miles from the earth’s coldest regions where Joanne recently completed her travels (see our previous postcards to read about her adventures in Antarctica!), first-year students and members of Dartmouth’s class of 1957 were transported that morning to a faraway, 19th century world, where brave souls explored uncharted waters while their entire countries waited, captivated to hear of their adventures and discoveries.

At the Great Issues Scholars event, Special Collections Librarians Jay Satterfield and Julia Logan guided attendees through primary source materials from two infamous arctic explorations: Greely’s previously mentioned Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, and the 1845 “lost” expedition of British naval officer Sir John Franklin. Rauner Library contains artifacts from both trips, including original maps, handwritten diaries and letters, and even a menu from a special Christmas meal aboard one of the ships! According to Ross Virginia, Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Institute of Arctic Studies, Rauner’s arctic collection is premiere in the world; scholars travel from far and wide to study its offerings. The Dickey Center takes this legacy of arctic scholarship one step further by offering the Stefansson Fellowship, a stipend for students to travel to the polar regions to conduct cutting-edge scientific research.

Librarians show artifacts

The librarians described to their spellbound audience the Greely sailors’ journey of hope then horror, telling how technical issues forced the men to spend a rough winter huddling together in a primitive shelter, awaiting rescue and resorting to cannibalism when their meager supplies ran out. One student could not hold back from interrupting the presentation to exclaim, “it’s just like a movie!”

Although not all of the attendees were particularly interested in the arctic or environmental issues, each was able to connect the story to their own international interests. Namrata Ramakrishna, a freshman planning on studying global health, was most interested in the cooperative partnership between the numerous countries that sponsored missions to the Arctic in the International Polar Year of 1882, noting that scientific research can often be very competitive. As a pre-law student, I was particularly intrigued by the crude justice system formed by Greely’s stranded men – one diary entry revealed that the men sentenced and shot one of their compatriots for stealing extra rations.

students and 57s review artifacts

On the way to Baker Library for further discussion of the event, Great Issues Scholar Mentor Patrick Iradakunda noted how despite its rural location, Hanover is incredibly connected to the world. Bruce Bernstein, Dartmouth Class of 1957, felt the same way during his time at Dartmouth. Bernstein noted how college President John Sloan Dickey’s mandatory Great Issues course forced senior students to think about the world beyond the “Hanover bubble.” Rauner’s arctic collection is the perfect embodiment of this paradox: although braving the Hanover cold is the closest most students will get to the polar regions in their lifetimes, any of them can make the short trek from their dorm rooms to Rauner to experience the collection firsthand.

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As campus correspondent (that’s me with hands cupped in the picture above), you can expect to hear from me on a few occasions, as I tie the work that Dartmouth students like Joanne are doing abroad with happenings on campus. Stay tuned for the next postcard, which features a junior and his work with refugees.

Until next time,

Freya

Reflections on Antarctica

As a follow-up to my last blog-post, I wanted to expand on my takeaways from my ten-day excursion to Antarctica. One of my best learning opportunities was simply observing how others passengers interacted with the land, and consequently, how effective the International Association of Antarctica Tour of Operators (IATTO) was in practice. IAATO is a self-governing mechanism that promotes environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica for private operators, such as OneOcean expeditions.

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While crossing the Drake Passage, the “roughest stretch of sea in the world,” on our way to Antarctica, we attended two mandatory lectures under IAATO, which outlined Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic. These sessions informed us about the importance of leaving no trace, respecting protected areas, and distancing ourselves from wildlife (Reflections, 2007). With the latter example, failure to do so could have disastrous consequences, such as scaring the penguins, causing them to run away and potentially break a foot or change path, forcing them to exert extra energy when going down to the ocean to feed.

Our first stop was in the South Sheltand Islands at Yankee Harbour. The other passengers and I were lucky enough to witness elephant seals and chinstrap penguins interspersed infrequently throughout the gentoo penguin dominant colonies. Despite this being the first excursion however, I noticed that some passengers willfully ignored some of the guidelines discussed during the IAATO briefing; as I vividly recall one passenger got within three meters of an elephant seal. It was interesting to see how some animals adapted to a humans’ presence better than others; for example, the penguins at Port Lackroy were quite comfortable around humans, in contrast to the scua I saw on Yankee Harbour, which howled at me as I inadvertently got close to its eggs. This phenomenon demonstrates how vital IAATO is in preventing alterations of animal behavior.

The main problem with IAATO, is that monitoring is sparse, therefore, the voluntary provision is very hard to enforce. From my observations, the honor system wasn’t always enough to avoid such violations, and it would be unrealistic for the OneOcean staff to micromanage every passenger while on land. Subpar boot washing also occurred as the quality of the scrubbing severely diminished over time. This ties directly into The Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Flora and Fauna of 1964, which deals with the restriction on interference of wildlife, the establishment of protected areas, restrictions on introduction of non-indigenous species, and a category of specifically protected species introduced (Liggett, 2015).

Moreover, I was shocked by the lack of effort taken to cover up large indents in the snow as a result of a human step, or our sleeping holes when camping out on Leith Cove. On our daily hikes, people would often stray from the designated path or walk over penguin highways without much awareness of the ecosystem impacts. A few of my classmates set out to help cover up these holes, however I feel that a simple check by the crew could help avoid some of this negligence displayed by fellow passengers, in preserving the terrain. Although failure to cover up these holes has less to do with the possibility of penguins getting trapped in the snow, the concept of leaving no trace was not executed in every interaction with the land.

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Although the aforementioned experiences are very targeted learning experiences, I never would have known that IAATO is breached consistently. I think it is admirable that many tour companies voluntarily abide by IAATO and do their best to avoid altering animal’s habitats. However, I think monitoring and enforcement mechanisms could be better, such as stationing one staff member at the boot washing station following excursions. It is entirely possible for a company to be a part of IAATO and not abide by its guidelines, but I commend the OneOcean staff for attempting to adhere to the provisions. Overall, I believe that we did a good job of minimizing impact, but need to compensate for others in the group who often forget about the harmful effects a footprint can have.

This experience complements my Dartmouth education as it reinforces fundamental concepts from my environmental justice, environmental law, and issue’s of the Earth’s cold regions. I hope to learn more about Antarctica’s unique environmental policy in the context of global relations and excited at the prospect of implementing feasible solutions to become an effective Antarctic ambassador and policy leader in the years to come.

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References:

Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic. (2016). Retrieved December 9, 2016, from http://iaato.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=022e237f-740e-4e7a-b952-a8acfe5d45c8&groupId=10157

Liggett, D. (2015). Tourism in Antarctica. Exploring the Last Continent, 379-398. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-18947-5_18

 Reflections: At the end of the Earth. 2007. (pp. 1-51, Rep.). (n.d.).

Greetings from Antarctica

Dear members of the Class of 1957,

My name is Joanne Nazareth and I am currently a senior at Dartmouth College, pursuing a double major in economics and environmental studies. I spent December 18-28, 2016 aboard the Akademik Ioffe, studying abroad with the College at Brockport SUNY in Antarctica. My interest in the Antarctic began in the Spring of 2016, when I enrolled in Environmental Issues of the Earth’s Cold Regions with Professor Ross Virginia, where I learned about the historical context of Antarctic exploration, the environmental impacts global warming has on the region, and different ecosystems within the region. I decided to embark on this once in a lifetime adventure to deepen my understanding of polar issues. The vast, unique environment enticed me, as well as the ability to fulfill one of my major requirements while getting to hike, camp, and meet people from around the world. This opportunity reinforced content from the fall online lectures and I was able to diversify my experiences and takeaways, which greatly surpassed my expectations. Many of our excursions took place on The Antarctica Peninsula, which is one of three fastest warming parts of the planet, experiences a 10% decrease in sea ice per decade. In contrast, the interior of the continent is experiencing a cooling phenomenon (Bentley, 2015).

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Our twenty-person group was divided into two teams, seabirds and ecotourism respectively. I was a part of the ecotourism team, which topics ranging from the impacts of Antarctic tourism in the gateway city of Ushuaia, Argentina, the port we departed from; tourist disturbances and impacts on wildlife, invasive species, and the “Antarctic Ambassador” effect. My role on the carbon footprint and climate change module was to calculate the carbon footprint of the ship and analyze the exponential increase in Antarctic tourism within the context of climate change. In 2011-12 season, there were approximately 26,500 visitors to the Antarctic; in 2014-15 season, this number jumped to 36,702 visitors, and peaked during the 2007-8 season with 46,265 visitors (IAATO, 2016).

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Our ship, the Akademik Ioffe, ran on Marine Gas Oil (MGO), which is a sustainable alternative to Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO). My partner and I assumed that the ship spent approximately half of its time in ‘hotelling’ mode and the other half operating at full power. We then used two equations from our required readings where we multiplied fuel consumption by an emission factor and averaged them to get an estimate of 12.67 tons of fuel produced per day (Farreny, 2011). However, the numbers we derived did not take into account the flight emissions, which add a few more tons to total trip emissions.

Although I was part of the ecotourism group, it was important for me to seek out my own learning opportunities. I would go up to the bridge once a day and learn about navigation. I would also stand on the outskirts as the bird group completed its watch for the day and learn more about bird identification techniques. Essentially, I was an advocate for my own learning and made it a point to seek out new and diverse information. I learned about penguins, albatrosses, petrels, sheathbills, skuas, and cormorants and how to identify them accordingly, using the dichotomous key.

Working on this project, demonstrated the complexity and gravity of Antarctic tourism in accumulation, as the average tourist trip to Antarctica produces approximately 5.44 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per passenger and .49 per passenger per day (Eijgelaar, 2010). Surprisingly, passengers of Antarctica cruises can produce as many emissions on their trip as the average European in a year. While this may seem like a lot, measures have been taken to offset these emissions; for example, the Akaedmik Ioffe conducted a charity auction for wildlife conservation and donated the proceeds, in order to ensure future trips to the Antarctic.

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References:

Eijgelaar, E., Thaper, C., & Peeters, P. (2010). Antarctic Cruise Tourism: the Paradoxes of Ambassadorship, “Last Chance Tourism” and Greenhouse gas emission. Journal of Sustainable tourism .

Farreny, R., & Oliver-Sola, J. (2011, April 1). Carbon dioxide emissions of Antarctic tourism. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from https://brockport.open.suny.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-381415-dt-content-rid-2006838_1/courses/201609-OAP404-01-ASA/M1 – Farreny et al 2011 carbon footprint.pdf.

IAATO Tourism Statistics. (2016). Retrieved December 9, 2016, from https://iaato.org/tourism-statistics

Campus Event(s) invitation

We invite Class of 1957 members and spouses near Hanover to join students for one of the on-campus events this winter:

TWO EVENTS for members of Class of 1957 & Dickey’s Great Issues Scholars:

Sat., 2/4/17 Adventure, Exploration, Cannibalism! 19th Century Expeditions to Find the Northwest Passage, 10am-Noon Environmental Studies Professor Ross Virginia and Special Collections Librarian Jay Satterfield show original diaries and other documents from Dartmouth’s internationally famous Arctic Collection from two expeditions to the Arctic.

  • Franklin & Greeley Expeditions, 10-11am, Rauner Special Collections Library
  • Discussion with students, 11am-Noon, DCAL Teaching Center, Baker Library 102

Weds., 3/1/17 Ice Core Lab Tour – 4:30-5:30pm, Cummings 200, Thayer School of Engineering (Meet at Dickey at 4:15 to walk to Thayer) Have you ever seen a 200 year-old ice core?  Learn the facts about climate change from Thayer engineering graduate students who are studying how climate change is affecting Polar Regions. Then take a rare tour of the ice core cold room and see first-hand how ice recovered from Polar Regions holds clues to the history of the earth’s climate. (Come prepared to bundle up and enter a sub-zero cold room where scientists work with ice cores retrieved from the Arctic. Don’t forget a coat!)

Welcome Class of 1957

As you may already know, one of the strengths of Dartmouth’s Dickey Center is our ability to work with students on AND off campus as they explore a wide range of international issues. This approach helps students formulate opinions and actions in areas of relevance to them. Through on-campus classes, lectures, and other events they are introduced to a wide range of problems in the world today. Through Dickey Center internships and research programs students are able to take these budding interests and get into the field to learn from practitioners and experts on projects underway across the globe. These experiences also help students build skills in working across cultures, languages, and systems. When they come back to campus, they return to the classroom and activities with a deeper understanding of the complexities of “the world’s troubles” as John Dickey so aptly put it. Their newly found knowledge is put to the test as they dig deeper in their study and as they share their experience with their peers.  It is this very process of on and off campus exploration of critical issues in the world, that we want to highlight and share with the Class of 1957 this year.

POSTCARDS FROM THE FIELD: Great Issues Exploration with the Class of 1957

We have selected four students as “correspondents” to the Class of 1957— each will share their work, study, and discoveries with the Class in a series of “postcards” in the coming months. We will compile their writings and photos and provide these to you for your class newsletters AND in this online blog.  Three students are receiving project grants from the Class of 1957 Great Issues Innovation fund to support a portion of their off-campus work this year:

  • Milan Chuttani ’18: Refugee crisis and response with the International Rescue Committee
  • Joanne Nazareth ’17: Environmental change and tourism in Antarctica
  • Kennedy Jensen ’18: Health access in under-resourced communities in Latin America

They will each write two reflections to the Class of 1957 about their work and personal insights. Another student, Freya Jamilson ’17, will write 3-4 posts to the Class while she covers global security, environment, international development, and health events on campus.

We invite classmate near Hanover to join students for one of the on-campus events this winter:

TWO EVENTS for members of Class of 1957 & Dickey’s Great Issues Scholars:

Sat., 2/4/17 Adventure, Exploration, Cannibalism! 19th Century Expeditions to Find the Northwest Passage, 10am-Noon Environmental Studies Professor Ross Virginia and Special Collections Librarian Jay Satterfield show original diaries and other documents from Dartmouth’s internationally famous Arctic Collection from two expeditions to the Arctic.

  • Franklin & Greeley Expeditions, 10-11am, Rauner Special Collections Library
  • Discussion with students, 11am-Noon, DCAL Teaching Center, Baker Library 102

Weds., 3/1/17 Ice Core Lab Tour – 4:30-5:30pm, Cummings 200, Thayer School of Engineering (Meet at Dickey at 4:15 to walk to Thayer) Have you ever seen a 200 year-old ice core?  Learn the facts about climate change from Thayer engineering graduate students who are studying how climate change is affecting Polar Regions. Then take a rare tour of the ice core cold room and see first-hand how ice recovered from Polar Regions holds clues to the history of the earth’s climate. (Come prepared to bundle up and enter a sub-zero cold room where scientists work with ice cores retrieved from the Arctic. Don’t forget a coat!)