Originally from Xiamen, China, Ningning is a sophomore at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States double majoring in Economics and Environmental Studies. Already in high school, she developed a specific interest in cold places and polar environmental issues through documentaries, and started to seek opportunities to go to the Arctic and eventually contribute to research and relevant projects there.
Opportunity to come to the Arctic Circle finally came across when her professor Ross Virginia connected her with research professor Bruce Forbes, who leads the CHARTER project. At the Arctic Centre, Ningning mainly helped with Work Package 6 of CHARTER and focused on researching policy options related to building resilience in the Arctic when it comes to climate change, biodiversity, local communities, extractive industries, and other environmental issues.
– Working on this project is amazing because I feel that even though I am still an undergrad, my ideas are really being valued and I get a lot of helpful feedback from my supervisors, Ningning says.
Ningning is interested in several topics including sustainable development, the effects of climate change on Indigenous communities, cleantech, renewable energy and corporate social responsibility, and finds working with CHARTER and other projects that promote sustainability meaningful to her.
– It’s very meaningful and I learn a lot during the process. I feel very happy every day because I feel my contribution is helping create a positive impact, and I learn many new things with each task that I work on.
The conversations with researchers and other co-workers during coffee breaks at the common coffee room were an important part of her experience. She found herself amazed how natural knowledge exchange could be through informal chats when people just shared and talked about their work and experiences at the coffee table.
– Environment here in the Arctic Centre is great. Sometimes I ask researchers questions that I am curious about and I get very inspired by their experiences and research methods. There are so many topics to dive deep into in the field of Arctic Studies, it’s amazing. People here are very friendly and I enjoy the atmosphere here a lot.
After experiencing a completely new environment – northern lights, darkness and the coldness of winter in Rovaniemi, Ningning realized how important it is to go and put herself in different places and situations to really foster personal growth through these kinds of unique experiences. In the future, Ningning wishes to continue working in projects promoting sustainability, possibly even work with documentaries related to climate change - the same way she has started her journey.
– Overall, I feel so grateful to be here and be able to learn and grow so much. This amazing experience won’t be possible without my wonderful mentors at Dartmouth and at the Arctic Centre.
Text: Vilma Kallio, intern, Science Communications, Arctic Centre
Photos: Vilma Kallio, Ningning's homealbum