Drinking from pools of clear water to ten-hour hikes, the students of Loomis Chaffee had the opportunity to travel this summer and experience the beauty of a nation known for their environmental friendliness. Iceland offered a grand, unique splendor that emerged in its incredible landscape, generous people, sustainable initiatives, and scrumptious bread.
Photo taken by Krishnapriya Rajaram ’21
The main objective of this trip was sustainability. Focus being on understanding how to implement effective measures that would benefit our environment and teaching others how to improve our surroundings whether it be at Loomis or in our hometowns.
Sue and Dave, the founders of the Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL), shared their experiences and guided us as we traveled to volcano huts, natural hot springs, stayed a night in Turf House, and shared a meal with Hodor, an Icelandic farmer. Throughout our journey, many moments motivated and impressed us.
“One of my favorite moments during the Iceland trip has got to be hiking up the Thorsmork (the mountains around the volcano huts). During the hike, I immersed myself into the beautiful Icelandic landscape and practiced deep self-reflection,” said Andy Cao ’21.
“My favorite moments were visiting the Geothermal power plant and swimming in the hot springs,” said Griffen Malkin ’20.
The majority of Icelandic households use geothermal water and rely on renewable sources. For instance, 99% of Iceland’s electricity is produced from renewable sources and approximately 30% of which is geothermal.
The water of the hot springs increased in temperature as we hiked higher, so we had a choice in what type of temperature of the water we could bathe in.
We bonded as we built greenhouses and dismantled dilapidated turf houses with Hannes to preserve its originality. We helped to reduce our carbon footprint by planting trees and learned more about what it truly meant to live sustainably, starting with where we stayed: an Ecovillage called Solheimar.
“I was especially inspired by the people of Solheimar and the Ecovillage that they have created; the unique and special people there were valued and celebrated and all of them are living their lives with kindness. The fact that they are dedicated to sustainable living was the icing on the cake!” said Ms. Betsy Conger, who chaperoned the Iceland trip.
The beauty of Soilheimer arises in its open-minded spirit and selfless bond that is represented among the people. As they hold hands and sing each morning, their respect for each other and as a community shines while positively influencing others.
Much was accomplished, and we met wonderful people, experienced a new culture, and discovered fascinating new parts that come together to form the gorgeous nation of Iceland. However, to truly experience any country including Iceland, one must step out of their comfort zone and truly experience the culture.
“I would tell visitors to Iceland to wander off the main roads and to see the “less touristy” parts of Iceland, and I would encourage visitors to meet the “real” Icelanders and talk to them about their land and their culture. Understand the impact that climate change is having upon this magical place.” said Ms. Conger.