Earlier this year, The Norwegian Researchers and Teachers Association of North America (NORTANA) announced an essay contest in conjunction with The International Polar Year (IPY) for college students in North America. The IPY is a large scientific program focused on the Arctic and the Antarctic, and it runs from March 2007 to March 2009.The students were invited to write essays on topics such as Norway’s activities in research and industry, Polar explorations, environmental projects and more.
And the winner has been announced. It is Alice Deden, with her essay “A Changing Norway, a Changing World”.
“I am absolutely ecstatic!” Deden says about winning the contest.
The essays were judged on quality, clarity, originality, and insights provided – and the winner receives a scholarship award of $500.
A Chemistry major at St. Olaf College, Deden took a class about Norwegian Culture that focused on current issues in Norway and how one can relate these issues to what is happening around the globe.
Being raised on a farm, Deden says she is particularly adamant about the environmental issues that our world is facing.
“My dad has a 55 acre plot just for trees,” Deden explains.
“Thus, I spent a lot of time in the woods and outside in general, so it pains me to think that one day there is a chance people will not be able to enjoy the outdoors because of what our society is doing to the environment.”
“The essay is about taking up the challenge with which the world has presented us,” Deden says.
“And it is about following the example of a country that is taking the necessary steps to preserve the beauty of the outdoors and to restore not only its health, but our health as well.”
She adds that she considers the essay a tribute to the work that Norway is putting forth in research and contributions to the International Polar Year.
2007 marked a breakthrough for global concern about environmental issues. But the message still has not reached everybody. As Deden points out, the content of her essay is still quite controversial for some people.
“For example, the church that my family belongs to does not believe in climate change or global warming.
“The most important thing I wanted to say with my essay is that the world is evolving at a rate with which we are not familiar, and if we do not adapt to it, there are sure to be consequences.”
Again, Deden's background has given her not only perspectives, but also first hand experience with the effects that can already be detected:
“I have been observing the effects of climate change at my home in the past few years because spring comes earlier, snow melts sooner, more flooding occurs.”
However, Deden wishes to stay constructive:
“I wanted to write about something that can be changed, that can be fixed. And not just by the big-wig governmental figures, it must be fixed starting with people like you and me."
Asked about her own future, Deden says she is torn between whether she would like to do environmental research, pharmaceutical research, or oncology research. She is also looking into application for a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Norway.
Alice Deden’s winning essay will be published in NORTANA’s newsletter and posted on the NORTANA website.