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It's mind-blowing, says Omagh student Emma on 'trip of lifetime' to the Arctic

Whale watching: Emma Denton
Whale watching: Emma Denton

By Chelsie Kealey

It's been the trip of a lifetime for a Northern Ireland university student who is currently in the Arctic.

Emma Denton, from Omagh, who turns 20 this month, was selected from more than 700 applicants to travel to the Eastern Canadian Arctic and Western Greenland.

The Queen's University, Belfast student was one of 130 high school and university students who were specifically selected to embark on the two-week trip.

Emma has taken on the momentous task of travelling with the Students On Ice (SOI) foundation to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the changing Arctic.

The SOI foundation is an award-winning organisation that strives to contribute to a healthy and sustainable future by providing a platform for learning, and for ideas and cross-cultural collaborations to flourish.

The educational programme is being led by a global team of indigenous and non-indigenous scientists, artists, elders, historians and visionary leaders.

This year's group is focusing on climate change, conservation and sustainable development goals.

The team started their journey from Ontario in Canada.

During the trip, the team is living on a large expedition vessel and using boats to explore the local areas.

The programme includes workshops, learning about the culture and history of the local peoples.

Emma was successful in securing a full scholarship through the Canada-UK foundation after applying online.

The funding the foundation receives comes from a global network of more than 40 different supporters.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from the Ocean Endeavour, Emma said: "Never in my life did I think I could have done or dreamed of anything like this trip.

"I drank water from a glacier a few days ago; that water had been frozen for 12,000 years and it was the best water I've ever tasted.

"I've seen icebergs and I've seen whales in the wild."

She added: "Everything on this trip has been mind-blowing.

"I wish I could do it all over again."

Emma studies geography at QUB and is a keen environmentalist.

She has long had an interest in conservation and has been involved in university clean-ups.

Emma continued: "I hope more people will learn about all the environmental information I have learnt on this journey.

"I hope I can bring that to geography and to my future job and I hope I can make a positive impact.

"I'm trying to immerse myself in everything, I'm trying to remember everything and write everything down.

"I don't want to forget anything, it has been the best experience of my life.

"There isn't any single day that I can say has been the best, because every day has been the most amazing experience.

"Life on this ship is how life in the world should be."

She added: "It has been the opportunity of a lifetime."

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