Living Earth has been working with the communities on the North Slope of Alaska since 2006 to help promote sustainable development in the area in the context of the increasing presence of extractive industries in the region.
As part of this process considerable parallels were identified between the experience of the North Slope today, and that of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in the 1970s when oil exploration and extraction began in the North Sea. Both areas also share a number of common issues and challenges, such as rurality and relative remoteness and an understanding of the importance, and at the same time the difficulty, of sustaining a traditional local culture and way of life. We recognised that these areas of common experience and concern can be shared for the mutual benefit of communities in both regions.
It was at this stage that the ‘Polar Pairs’ exchange programme was born; an initiative that supports teachers and education professionals from Alaska and Aberdeenshire in a process of shared learning on subjects of mutual interest. These have been as diverse as workforce development, behavioural problems, community dysfunction and cultural revival.
Everyone involved in Polar Pairs is encouraged to share good practice, exchange teaching materials and engage in discussion on the many issues, queries and areas of interest raised.
The overall aim is to promote effective learning among local communities, encouraging the development of confidence and self-esteem among the young people, and to promote cultural education of and in both regions.
Regular exchange visits of teaching staff and educational professionals form part of the initiative and the website is an online tool designed to sustain the relationships and learning that have been initiated through the exchange visits.
For further information about the initiative please contact Laura Whitby at firstname.lastname@example.org