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Students Heading to Cancun

As concerned youth and a delegate, COA students hope to make youth voice known at UN climate change convention
November 29 - December 10, 2010 - Cancun, Mexico

Neil Oculi delegateListen to an interview with Juan Soriano '11 on TeleSur, considered by many to be the Latin American version of CNN.

Follow Cancun via COA's student blog,

Read about COA's student delegation in the Bangor Daily News.

A nation's delegate and a global youth spokesperson are among the dozen students from College of the Atlantic bringing their message of global concern to Cancun, Mexico from Nov. 29 through Dec. 10. The students are attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC is being held.

Among the students is Neil Oculi, a COA senior from St. Lucia, who served as a member of his nation's delegation last year and returns again. Another COA senior, Juan Carlos Soriano of Peru, was chosen to give the final youth statement to the UN plenary last year. Additionally, a recent alumnus served on the Bolivian delegation, a role he repeats this year.

Each of these students has been studying the issues intensely, some for several years. And each student - who this year hail from Canada, Germany, Granada, Haiti, India, Peru, St. Lucia, Mexico, and from California, Cape Cod, Minneapolis and Vermont - attends for individual reasons. But according to Doreen Stabinsky, COA faculty member in international relations, there's an overall reason: "it's a hands-on understanding of international politics, whether environmental or otherwise; a way to viscerally experience what happens during negotiations - something you can't get in books."

Juan Soriano giving youth speech in 2009The students' determination is palpable. Says Anjali Appadurai of Vancouver, Canada, "Climate change is a problem that permeates all levels of society. I want to get involved and see where I fit in." Adds Ayla Yandow from St. George, VT, "It's something I feel inside me, it's my passion - I don't know where it came from, but I know it's something that's a part of me. I feel that its worth dedicated my life to."

COA faculty member in law Ken Cline notes, "Youth are not just outside observers; they are going to live with the results of these meetings." Cline holds COA's David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection. Adds Graham Reeder of Vancouver, I can be "another drop in the pot, one more voice presenting opposition to the way things have been going."

Ayla YandowCOA recently received the 2010 Paul Simon Spotlight Award from the world's largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, for its International Environmental Diplomacy Program. Students focusing on this area work to understand, attend and contribute to the complicated negotiations of international environmental treaties, including those for climate change. The award recognizes the six years that COA has sent students to these meetings - and the part that these well-trained students have played at them.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. It has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to undergraduate education - human ecology - that is especially well suited to developing the types of leaders needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing human needs of our world. For more on the NAFSA award, visit

Captions: Top: Neil Oculi '11, member of the St. Lucia delegation
Middle: Juan Soriano '11 giving the Youth Speech to the plenary in Copenhagen.
Bottom: Ayla Yandow '14 before heading off to Cancun with the COA group.

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