Massachusetts high school students visit Iceland
Next step in partnership between New Bedford Whaling Museum and Húsavík Whale Museum
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Photo 1: Students from the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s apprenticeship program visited their counterparts from the Húsavík Whale Museum in Iceland recently. (L-R) NBWM Curator of Education Sarah Rose, Nathan Silveira, Anthony Medeiros, Yamilex Ramos Peguero, Alexandra Binette, Ryland Roderick, Daniel Perry and Director of Apprentices and Interns Christina Turner
Photo 2: Apprentices listen as Marina Rees, co-founder and co-manager of Fjúk Arts Centre in Húsavík, Iceland, explains how she is reconstructing a whale skeleton. (L-R) Anthony Medeiros, Daniel Perry and Alexandra Binette
Photo 3: New Bedford Whaling Museum apprentices spotted humpback and minke whales during a whale watching expedition in Iceland. (L – R) Anthony Medeiros, Alex Binette, Nathan Silveira, NBWM Curator of Education Sarah Rose, Huld Hafliðadóttir, NBWM Director of Apprentices & Interns Christina Turner, Yamilex Ramos, Ryland Roderick and Daniel Perry.
New Bedford, MA – Six high school students from the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s apprenticeship program visited their counterparts from the Húsavík Whale Museum in Iceland from April 16 through April 23, 2016 as part of an innovative youth exchange program called “Connecting Coastal Communities.” This program is funded by a grant from Museum Connect, which is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). "Getting students interested in biology and ocean conservation through the study of whales – as the ‘Connecting Coastal Communities’ project does through its Museums Connect grant – is the essence of what museums do," said Laura L. Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums.
The program has two main goals: to expand ocean literacy among youth in Massachusetts and in Húsavík; and amplify the global shift toward eco-tourism and whale conservation. Icelandic students will be visiting various locations in the United States from May 27 through June 2. They arrive in New Bedford on May 29.
While visiting Iceland, the New Bedford students explored and exchanged information with their counterparts about their economic and cultural heritage in the context of their ocean environment. They met with diplomatic staff at the U.S. Embassy in Iceland, and also with the Mayor of Húsavík, Kristján Thor Magnusson. Their itinerary included visits to museums and schools, a whale watching trip and sightseeing.
The American students are enrolled in the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program, which provides local high school students with work and college readiness experience. Curator of Education Sarah Rose said, “Connecting Coastal Communities has empowered our students to recognize that their voice matters in the global conversations about environmental sustainability and whale conservation. By partnering with the Húsavík Whale Museum, these high school students are bringing international attention to ocean-related issues. Our trip to Iceland is the culmination of eight months of work and learning about one another’s cultures, the countries where we live and the Atlantic ocean that connects us.”
As part of their apprenticeship and in preparation for their trip, the New Bedford students have created a “Connecting Coastal Communities” website -https://sites.google.com/a/education.whalingmuseum.org/connecting-coastal-communities/ - which includes community and personal profiles, oral histories from community members, whale biology descriptions, and details of local public events pertaining to whales, all of which has been shared with the Icelandic students. The New Bedford students will be sharing their trip experiences on Twitter and Facebook: twitter.com/Apprentice_NBWM and www.facebook.com/whalingmuseum/
In a statement made when the international program was announced in 2015, Robert C. Barber, U.S. Ambassador to Iceland said, “The New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Húsavík Whale Museum share a common mission to interpret the legacy of whaling and whale conservation in their respective communities in New England and Iceland. The United States and Iceland are separated by almost a century in the transition from whaling to whale conservation. I have seen first-hand in my travels around Iceland what the vibrant whale watching and whale conservation sector means for the cities and towns in which it takes place. I hope this will be the start of lasting ties between the two institutions and your respective communities, and will help shape a brighter future for both man and whale.”
New Bedford and Húsavík are similar coastal communities with maritime-based economies. Due to their proximity to the Atlantic, both communities developed deep ties to whales as economic generators and cultural symbols. Students will organize events in their schools and communities to celebrate whales in their local waters. The project’s ultimate objective is for the high school students to serve as ambassadors of ocean health, working on two sides of the Atlantic to protect the ocean and the creatures living in it.
“The New Bedford Whaling Museum is an active participant in the global conversation surrounding whales and ocean literacy. By fostering this partnership with Husavik, we are cultivating future stewards of environmental sustainability and fostering ambassadors of ocean health,” said James Russell, President of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Contact: Gayle Hargreaves
Director of Marketing
New Bedford Whaling Museum
About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales, and the history and culture of the South Coast of Massachusetts. For more information visit www.whalingmuseum.org.