Great Issues Scholars reflect on a term of global health programs

“This term opened my eyes to how much we take for granted in the medical field today. Now it’s just assumed that we’ll be able to identify a disease’s source and method of transmission within weeks of an outbreak, but none of that was obvious only a few centuries ago” observed freshman Katrina Keating. Katrina attributes her light bulb moment to a Great Issues Scholars event from earlier in the term, in which the scholars, guided by Professor Jonathan Chipman, analyzed maps of an unknown disease’s spread around an unknown city. The scholars wrongly attributed the scenario to a modern outbreak in the developing world, while in reality, the context was the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak in London. Now, three weeks later, Katrina and her fellows Great Issues Scholars shared a meal of seafood paella, fresh roasted vegetables, and an assortment of Spanish desserts reminiscing and reflecting on this and other global-health themed events from the past term.

For some students, the term solidified a preexisting interest in global health. Grace Li, an aspiring linguistics and Chinese double major, plans to pursue medical school after Dartmouth. Great Issues Scholars opened Grace’s eyes to a variety of ways a medical degree can be applied to a career. The discussion with Dr. Kate Horan from Doctors Without Borders particularly resonated with her. Similarly, Briana Beach appreciated how the term complemented her classroom experience. As a student in Abigail Neely’s “Global Health and Society” course, Briana came to GIS equipped with background knowledge that allowed her to be a leader in group activities and ask GIS guests challenging questions. She hopes to extend her participation in global health on campus next year through a different Dickey Center program, Global Health Fellows.

Program Director Casey Aldrich does not expect the global health focused term to inspire each and every Great Issues Scholar’s future career path – stories like those of Grace and Briana are just icing on the cake for her. What Casey does hope Scholars leave with, however, is an appreciation that global health cannot be isolated from the other international themes addressed by the program. Freshman Nate Neumann picked up on this idea without prompting. To illustrate his point, he cited the health effects of natural disasters and sanitation crises, and the emergencies that often emerge from political instability or war. “If a government is struggling to survive, it’s not going to prioritize scientific research or cleaning water,” Nate observed. “Even if you don’t plan on a health-related career, you can’t ignore it if you’re working on other big issues.” Briana chimed in, positing that issues of race and socioeconomic class are also tied to inequities in the provision of health services. GIS sophomore mentor Ally Block praised the introductory event of the term for prompting students to think about these connections from the very start, describing how Professor Colleen Fox wove issues of security, environment, and gender into a case study of refugee health.

The Great Issues Scholars of the Class of 2020 left their term-end reflection with bellies full and minds racing, chatting about their plans for their next three years of international exploration as they meandered toward the door, and toward their sophomore years.

All best to the Class of 1957– it’s been a delight reporting and sharing with you,

Freya Jamison ’17

Reflections on global health explorations in Peru

Dear Members of the Class of 1957,

I am in my last week here in Peru! How the time has flown by! I’ll share a story and some thoughts that have been on my mind as my time here rapidly draws to a close.

One morning, I set out with Stephani, one of the psychologists in the mental health team of Socios en Salud. When I started working here, there were five members of the team, but organizational budget cuts struck in my sixth week here cutting the team down to two: a harsh reality of the world of limited funding and seemingly unlimited need. We clamber out of the mototaxi, coated in sweat that the dust from the street promptly clung to, as we began our ascent up the mountain to a patient home. The role of the mental health team at Socios is to visit patients undergoing treatment for tuberculosis to evaluate their mental health status to ensure that they adhere to their treatment regimen. In the past, Socios has found that the patients who experience the most severe depression are most likely to develop feelings of hopelessness and abandon their drug regimens, leaving them at risk for Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) or Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR) tuberculosis.

Stephani makes a small exclamation and points up ahead where a frail man is waving from a rooftop. We set off in that direction. He meets us at the door, his bony hands limply clasping ours in greeting. His clothes hang off of his body, as though he is nothing more than a temporary coat hanger, a life so very mortal and fleeting. His eyes sit deep in his skull, sunken into shadows of pain and exhaustion. We sit with him in his living room, separated from the rest of the apartment by a bed sheet. As his children stir from their sleep in the beds behind the curtain, I catch glimpses of them peering out at us with inquisitive sparkling eyes.

He begins to tell us his story and I listen while watching the children. His eldest son comes in from playing soccer and ducks behind the curtain. He is no more than twelve years old. I watch as he lifts his screaming baby sister from the bed, her shaggy hair standing up in every direction, and tugs off her sagging diaper, rooting through a pile of clothes and extracting a pair of underwear that he helps her into. She reaches for a bottle of yogurt on the dresser. He takes it from her and opens it, sniffing cautiously, then tossing it on the counter and handing her a banana in instead. A few minutes later, the little girl ducks out from behind the curtain and sidles along the wall, grabbing her fathers arm and finally clambering up into his lap, staring at us while her mouth works on the banana.

The man tells us about the darkest moment, when he held his son’s hand in the hospital and told him to be brave. Told him that he was sorry. I see the son in the other room frozen, listening, bent over clutching the counter. Tears are streaming down the father’s face but he brushes them away as his daughter turns to look up at him so she doesn’t see.

“I have hope now,” he says, “hope that I will live. Hope that I will watch my children grow up. But what father have I been for them? I can’t support them. I can’t give them a good life. How long will it be before I am strong enough to go back to construction? Their mother hates me. She works so that they can eat. She wants to be rid of me, but I can’t leave them. I love my children. I love them more than anything in the world. They are why I’m still here.”

Teaching English to the younger class of 5-9 year old students. Here we working on drawing pictures of their families and labeling all of the members with their English names.

There were many home visits I was able to accompany our team on during my time here, but this one was especially powerful for me. It is just one example of the devastation that tuberculosis leaves in its wake and it was a powerful reminder for me about why I am here, what I am fighting for – not just in my internship, but with my life.

Moving forward from this experience, memories like that will haunt me, the sorrow in his face seared into my memory. His children deserve a future. It’s not just illness we are fighting; it’s poverty and the structures in place that perpetuate it. Despite how far Socios en Salud and Partners in Health have already come in eliminating tuberculosis, there is still so much further to go. My time here has reinvigorated my desire to chase these kinds of goals, to reevaluate the “impossible” challenges and “unbreakable” barriers.

From a more practical standpoint, my internship at Socios has revealed to me many areas in which I still need to grow and gain experience. For example, I now know that I want to take more public policy classes to flush out the knowledge that I gained experientially here. Furthermore, I have also realized that in order to be most effective in these kinds of global settings, I need to gain more quantitative analytical skills. I also hope that I will be able to take some of what I learned here about to mental health into my senior honors thesis, particularly with regards to mental health stigma. I am also gratefully able to share that during my time here, I was accepted into Geisel School of Medicine, so I sincerely hope that I am able to continue working with Dickey in the future to pursue these goals.

This internship has shaped my life. Not just my career goals and my Dartmouth experience, but my person. I emerge from this crucible of the challenges a more refined version of exactly who I am and a clear vision of who I want to become. I thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for helping to make this opportunity a reality.

Yours truly,


Brendan, my co-volunteer and I with Señor P., a homeless man living on the streets in Lima. Here, the three of us are in the Ministerio de Salud (MINSA – the Peruvian Ministry of Health) advocating for Señor P.’s rights to enter the government’s Vida Digna program for the homeless elderly population. He had previously been excluded due to a documented mental illness.
Three of my students and myself outside of Lois and Thomas, the school constructed by Socios en Salud for the education of youth in the Carabayllo community. These three were early every single week; in Peru, that is an anomaly. The kids here care about learning, care about making their families’ lives better, care about their futures.

Global Health Experience in Peru

Dear Members of the Class of 1957,

Hóla from Lima, Peru! I am currently working with Socios en Salud (the Lima branch of Partners in Health) on their Mental Health project. I am very grateful to have this opportunity. After reading Tracy Kidder’s biography of Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains, I was inspired to study and work in global health and if possible, to work specifically with Partners in Health. I happened upon this opportunity after writing a research paper for one of my professors on maternal health in Peru. Recognizing my interest, she gave the contact information of one of her students who was working for a year with Socios en Salud as a Lombard fellow, a dream that is now taking root in my mind as well. I reached out to her and she helped me get in touch with the volunteer director here. After an extensive application and Skype interview, here I am. I am thankful everyday for the good fortune, or perhaps fate, that brought me here and allowed this opportunity to come my way.

This is my third full week of work and I am already much busier than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised by all that I will be able to help with in my time here – it consists of a wide variety of activities, but the I appreciate being able to work on different projects on different days. One of my main projects is working on the implementation of “Pensamientos Saludables,” or “Healthy Thinking”. It’s a new program created by the World Health Organization to combat perinatal and postpartum depression among women. I have a strong interest in maternal health, so I am grateful to be working on a project that is so personally meaningful and interesting to me.

One day of the week, I travel with another volunteer to the Ministry of Health where we are working to help compile, consolidate and organize the country’s mental health data. It has been ranked among the least organized systems in all of South America. We have certainly experienced a fair share of frustrations in getting access to data, but that challenge has become a part of the process that I recognize as making it so valuable and important. I have also begun teaching English along with another volunteer. On Mondays, we teach two classes of children, a younger age group and an older age group, and on Friday mornings we teach the other Socios employees at our office in Carabayllo. Along the way, I also work on random projects and tasks that the mental health team needs, whether it’s translating a grant, reformatting manual manuscripts for community health workers, creating posters, or helping with Excel.

When I embarked on this experience, my interests lay in the intersection between poverty and health and what changes can be made on a systems level to improve the delivery of healthcare. I view illness as one of the many barriers that can hold a person back from finding meaning in their life and being able to ask the bigger questions that are an essential part of being human: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What kind of life do I want to lead? Going hand in hand with health is poverty, so I am grateful to have been placed in an area where that intersection and my specific interests lie. I am stationed and living in Carabayllo, one of the poorest of Lima’s forty-three districts. It is quite a shock compared to Hanover. There was definitely an adjustment period as my body grew used to the pathogens in the drinking water and my mind overcame my initial shock at the living conditions of most of Carabayllo’s population. Really interacting with my neighbors though and the other members of my community has been one of my favorite parts of my brief time here thus far. It has made my work all the more meaningful because I can see, even in small ways, the lives that I am working to make better.

My deepest thanks to all of you for helping to me follow this passion.

Truly yours,


Playing with some of my
students before I start English class.
Behind the SES logo is an image of Carabayllo, the district of Lima where I am living and working.

The Human Toll of the Refugee Crisis

We are living through the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. According the UN High Committee on Refugees, 21.3 million individuals worldwide have been forced by war and persecution to leave their homes countries and seek refugee abroad, and this number grows by 34,000 every day. More than half of this 21.3 million come from three countries alone: Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria. Milan’s work with the International Rescue Committee is a shining example of the work being done here in the United States to advocate for and support refugees on our own shores. Yet despite these incredible numbers and the work of dedicated groups like the IRC, many misconceptions about who refugees are, why they seek resettlement, and what can be done to facilitate their integration into host communities abound in political rhetoric and the media. The protection of human rights during wartime is particularly important to me, as civilians often lack functional law enforcement and legal systems to support them in times of crisis. With the generous support of the Dickey Center’s Lombard Public Service Fellowship, I will spend the year after graduation advocating for these rights at the International Refugee Assistance Project in New York. But I, and students with similar interests, do not have to leave campus or pursue careers in human rights to gain exposure to this critical international issue.

This spring, Dartmouth hosted two events highlighting the human toll of refugee crises. On April 7th, 22-year-old Sarah Mardini spoke to an overflowing Oopik Auditorium about her journey from Damascus to Berlin fleeing Syria’s civil war. On April 22nd, the Global Village hosted a screening of the film “The Good Lie,” which highlights the story of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” and followed the film with a panel discussion featuring two Sudanese refugees from the Lost Boys community in Boston and a policy expert from the Enough Project. Although the Sudanese civil war that created the Lost Boys occurred nearly three decades before the Syrian crisis of today, the themes of resilience and community resonated across both events. Regardless of their personal beliefs about immigration policy, attendees left both events understanding how policy affects refugee lives in very tangible ways.

Before war broke out in Syria, Sarah Mardini was a normal teenager – she attended school during the day, and spent her evenings and weekends training and competing as a swimmer. When life in Damascus became unbearable, both because of the omnipresent fear of bombs and the threat of sexual violence that is so common during wartime, Sarah and her younger sister Yusra undertook a dangerous journey to seek safety in Europe. When the motor on the small raft that was carrying the Mardinis and twenty other refugees failed in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sarah put her athletic training to use, swimming for three and a half hours to guide the boat to the Greek shore. Twenty-five days later, the sisters made it to Berlin, where they built a new life swimming for a German coach. In 2015, Yusra swam for the refugee team at the Olympic Games in Rio. Sarah, unable to forget the suffering of her fellow refugees, returned to Greece, where she now volunteers full time with the Emergency Response Center International, helping other refugee rafts land safely.

Both “The Good Lie” and the discussion with Lost Boys afterward impressed upon the audience the challenges of integrating into a new culture after losing everything. Viewers chuckled as they watched the boys in the film marvel at McDonalds and mistake a ringing telephone for an alarm on their first night in the United States. We thought critically about aspects of our own culture during a scene in which the Lost Boys are disgusted by the amount of “expired” food thrown in a dumpster daily by a grocery store owner. The panelists identified with these struggles, and emphasized the importance of having a community of other Sudanese refugees in Boston to share and process these novel experiences with. Brian Adeba, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, reminded the audience that South Sudan remains incredibly fragile today, and that the international community and regional actors need to use their political and economic leverage to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict and prevent the creation of further refugees.

Not all students have the resources or skills to spend a term working with underserved populations, but through opportunities like these two events, Dartmouth equips all of us with the exposure, knowledge, and tools to be advocates in smaller ways. Meeting refugees in person dispels some of the myths surrounding forced migration, and allows us to connect to these issues on a human, rather than policy level. It also facilitates cross-cultural understanding, by shining a spotlight on aspects of culture that aren’t usually talked about.

Believing in the power of people

Dear Class of 1957,

Near the end of my internship, the Baltimore IRC office held a community appreciation event at a nearby church. The event provided our staff the opportunity to thank people who collaborate with our organization and with our refugee clients. Employers like Under Armour and Chipotle, philanthropists, local school groups, families, and legislators all joined us for the dinner. My boss also invited several of our asylee clients, families who we knew would appreciate the food and community atmosphere. I stood in the back of church with Mohammed, a tall, quirky 22-year-old Iraqi refugee that I had become especially close with. Without our translator it was difficult to communicate, but we both appreciated the company and welcoming atmosphere.

The guest keynote speaker, a local politician from Maryland, opened the night. Speaking in waves of passion, arms rising above his grey hair and pale face, he congratulated donors and volunteers on their influence helping Syrian refugees. He described our clients as cold, hungry, tired and weak families, welcomed with open arms into communities. He called us “heroes…reaching down, lifting Syrians up and saving their lives”.

Mohammed chuckled next to me, saying in broken English “That man does not talking about me.” He smiled. I shrunk farther back in the audience, embarrassed, praying that neither Mohammed nor our other asylee guests could understand the way the congressman described them. Despite having lived in camps across Iraq, Syria and Turkey, Mohammad and his family all possessed a warm sense of humor and pragmatic resilience. They proudly worked night shifts at a jewelry factory to make ends meet, and burst into our office smiling on Monday mornings to show us their newest paystubs. Certainly they were not the ones being “saved” by our team.

The IRC attracts employees who are knowledgeable and passionate about refugee resettlement. Many caseworkers are experts in the field because they and there families are immigrants, with firsthand experiences with the resettlement process. My boss is a political asylee from Ethiopia, and others in our office are Palestinian, Sudanese, Iraqi and Burmese. The American-born employees come from similarly diverse cultural, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, heritages that allow them to communicate professionally and personally with our clients. This diversity has allowed the IRC to be notably void of a patronizing mentality. In the office, refugees are just clients, who looking like and talking like our employees. No one is “reaching down” to help them; they are served the same way any business helps its customers.

Alia El-Assar and Beyenech Taye, my bosses in the Asylee Department at the IRC. Alia, a Palestinian-American from South Florida, connects well with many clients by speaking in their native Arabic or Spanish languages. Beyenech applied for political asylum when she fled Ethiopia in 2003. She has been working at the IRC for 13 years, and won the “Employee of the Year” award for her professional, kind and patient work.

The refugees I’ve met certainly are not the stereotypical weak and feeble people the politician described. In fact, we work each day to empower people to move beyond this unflattering image, so they can get accustomed to working and living in the USA. I have been consistently humbled by our clients, people who inspire me each day to work towards building a more hospitable world. Women like Zahra, who learned six languages fluently by watching foreign TV programs in Afghanistan, and now translates at John’s Hopkins trauma center. Or Carine, a sixteen-year old asylee from Cameroon who waited eight years to rejoin her father in Baltimore. While most American girls her age are learning high-school algebra, she’s starting college nursing courses only two months after arriving to the country. Many of our clients were forced to flee promising careers by war and conflict. Aasif, an interpreter for the US Army in Afghanistan, is pumping gas right now in a Baltimore suburb, preparing for the day he can start his own company in Washington. And, Aamira, a woman who wraps sandwiches at a local deli in her brightly colored hijab, once ran a large non-profit consulting firm in Sudan.

Our clients will accomplish incredible things in their new American communities, and many are already underway building these dreams. Above all else, this term has taught me to treat refugees and asylees with the respect they deserve. Our nation should believe in them, too. Because at the end of the day, unless our nation can move past viewing immigrants as “weak and feeble refugees”, we can never fully embrace the powerful, intelligent, savvy, frustrated and complex individuals they truly are.


Milan Chuttani ‘18

**names have been modified in this post to preserve the anonymity of IRC clients**

Josue, a refugee from El Salvador, Mario, a parolee from Cuba, and I at an IRC picnic and soccer event for resettled youth. Both Josue and Mario are as eager to learn English as I am to practice Spanish. We’ve had long conversations about everything from Central American politics to the American healthcare system to various styles of music.

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.



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,


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.


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.


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.




Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic. (2016). Retrieved December 9, 2016, from

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).


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).


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.



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 – Farreny et al 2011 carbon footprint.pdf.

IAATO Tourism Statistics. (2016). Retrieved December 9, 2016, from

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!)