Iceland is the coolest place for my 2015 summer. Do you have a clue on what weather in Iceland is like during summer? I landed on the craziest, coolest and modernest capital on Earth.
Temperature: 14°C (Realfeel 7°C)
Time: 2.15 a.m.
Wind: 5 m/s (gentle breeze)
How does it sound like? Not bad, huh? It’s really out of my expectation. It’s unexpectedly good! During June and July, Iceland has the craziest white nights, no sunset for almost two months!
“Meet Us Don´t Eat Us” was a positive campaign because, we promoted to tourists and also Icelanders that the most sustainable way to enjoy whales is by responsible whale watching – better for whales and the Icelandic economy. By distributing informative leaflets, promoting whale friendly restaurants which do not serve whale meat (recognizable to tourists via ‘whale friendly’ 35 stickers in their windows), collecting signatures on postcards we regularly presented to the Fisheries Minister urging him to stop the whaling and encouraging people to support responsible whale watching, we were making people be better aware of how their behavior and personal choices would matter.
Basically, we had the best team ever in this workcamp. The workcamp was all about animal welfare, held by IFAW. More specifically, we worked on the Whale welfare issue. Whale welfare is a controversial topic in Iceland and I would like to understand the issue more. There are only three countries legally permitting commercial whaling. The workcamp included a training session and the rest was on work. Our main duty was going out to the main street in Reykjavik and collecting signatures from tourists.
The organization defined tourism in Iceland as the main cause of commercial whaling. A survey shown that only 3 % of Icelandic people would eat whale or consume the related by-products. However, the commercial whaling company found it a profitable business because of tourism, as tourists usually want something special from Iceland. What can be better than whales around Iceland? They can make good profit from whales!
I learnt how a Pressure group can work from the workcamp. Take IFAW as example, they cooperated with a whale watching company and suggested whale watching as solution. It’s very different from how the pressure groups work in Hong Kong. They provide a mutually agreeable solution to ensure on its practicality and feasibility. Instead of just placing pressure on relevant departments, IFAW took a further step to find a solution for those with vested interests. The solution did not only benefit the whales which served our main goal, but also provided an alternative to those with vested interests, like whaler, as well.
This was the second workcamp I joined two days after I finished “Meet Us; Don’t Eat Us”. This was about greenhouse agricultures in which we were responsible to plant cucumbers and tomatoes (later on, the farm also tried to farm chicken). This farm supplied products for the partnering clinic next to the farm. We provided fresh food to the patients. This was a very rare experience to me as I had never worked on greenhouse issues before. To stay with tomatoes and cucumbers for two weeks, it may sound boring but I had so much fun and joy in the camp with other volunteers.
Hveragerði is well known for having great areas for hiking, including a river heated by hot springs. Worldwide Friends volunteers have free access to the local geothermally-heated swimming pools. Natural pools have played an important social role in the traditional Icelandic culture. Most 36 Icelandic pools offer indoor and outdoor swimming, as well as hot tubs and saunas or steam rooms. It was great to have a visit there in Iceland.
Photos and texts by: Anthony Lau @ “Meet Us – Don’t Eat Us” & “Hveragerdi – Health and Environment”, Iceland (27/7/2015 – 24/8/2015), Lingnanians VolTra Stories 2015