Dare to Dream Big: The Arctic goes from "who?" to viral

Elena Merciadri and Margaux Corvaisier were connected by a shared passion for the environment. Today they share a project called Arctic Who, which seeks awareness for the Arctic life.

In recent years, the Arctic has been heating up faster than any other place on the planet. This not only has consequences for the climate system in the Arctic but also throughout the world. In addition, it affects the sea level, which has a straightforward impact on people and societies in many parts of the planet.

This is the basis behind the project of two university students, Elena Merciadri and Margaux Corvaisier, called “Arctic Who”.

“Our project seeks awareness about the Arctic life to children and teenagers through education and social media”, tells Corvaisier.

Merciadri and Corvaisier think that it is important to focus their project on young people because they will be the ones who will be in charge of our home planet’s future.

“The main goal of Arctic Who is to see young people acting on a daily basis to protect and spread Arctic knowledge and awareness, sharing news, facts and actions on the social media and outside: at schools, at home, with their friends and families”, sums up Merciadri.

Arctic Who aims to connect schools from the Arctic with schools from other parts of the world.

“We want to help young people to acknowledge the reality of facts and acting consequentially”, tells Corvaisier.

How did it all begin?

Merciadri’s and Corvaisier’s project started in autumn 2018 when they both started their exchange studies at the University of Helsinki. They participated in Helsinki Think Company’s Arctic Expedition, which gathered together students who were interested in the Arctic to plan events, campaigns and project that would communicate Arctic opportunities and challenges.

“We saw a post about the Arctic Expedition but did not have anyone to participate with. Therefore we decided to team up together”, tells Merciadri.

The pair got to know each other fast and found out that they shared the same values and a passion for nature. While brainstorming ideas about their project they stumbled upon the fact that they were both tired of the useless information coming up in their social media feeds, for example, gossip or fashion news.

“We both think that people worry too little about topics that really matter. Our planet is living in an alarming situation, and that needs to change!” says Corvaisier.

Soon after that, they came up with the idea of bringing young people more awareness about arctic life and issues through social media and education and started to work on their project.

Merciadri and Corvaisier ended up winning the Arctic Expedition after pitching their idea to the judges. They were awarded free participation to Helsinki Summer School 2019.

However, this was only the beginning for Arctic Who and Merciadri and Corvaisier are ready to take the next steps in their project.

Arctic Who?

Arctic Who is a way for Merciadri and Corvaisier to channel their knowledge and skills in different aspects for their shared passion for the environment.

The project divides into two parts. The first part is a campaign where Arctic Who uses videos and social media content to convey the everyday life of an arctic region teenager to school students all around the world.

The second part is an international educational project targeted for different school levels, all the way from kindergarten to universities.

“Through this project, we talk about life in the Arctic and how our everyday life has an impact on that”, tells Corvaisier.

Merciadri continues: “It is based on role plays, debates, videos and storytelling and aims to build knowledge and awareness together.

The name behind the project stands for how people do not care or know about the Arctic and how it has become like a stranger to so many people.

“It is like, Arctic… Who?” tells Corvaisier.

From strangers to co-founders

Now Merciadri and Corvaisier are not only a tight-knit group but also close friends.

“We have a lot of fun and we enjoy working together. We definitely could not be more happy and excited about sharing and supporting each other ideas”, tells Corvaisier.

Where Merciadri focuses on educational studies, Corvaisier takes courses on the environmental field of law at the University of Helsinki.

“The project fully reflects our two spheres of influence. Indeed, the fact that Elena studies education has allowed us to target an audience, to implement playful ways to communicate with this audience, to create contacts with classes and teachers”, praises Corvaisier.

“Concerning Margaux, she has, of course, put her knowledge of the environment at the service of the project. But it is especially her knowledge in video and photos that has been useful so far, in order to prepare the short film and to document the different social networks of the project,” says Merciadri.

They are both immeasurably thankful for the support they have gotten from the University of Helsinki along their project.

“We still dare to count on the University of Helsinki’s support for our next steps with our project”, tells both Merciadri and Corvaisier.

In the future, Merciadri and Corvaisier hope that Arctic Who creates international discussion, knowledge and awareness about the Arctic Culture and environmental safety.

“We hope to connect people of every age and provenance, making the Arctic issues more visible and pointing out that everybody’s actions matters. Ideally, an Arctic Project would be a part of the curriculum of every school!”, Corvaisier sums up.

Follow Arctic Who on Instagram.