Mauritzen goes on overseas expedition to Greenland

Sophia Smith, Staff Reporter

Jessica Mauritzen has taught as a Spanish teacher at Riverside Brookfield High School for 16 years. She was selected to be a part of National Geographic’s Lindblad Expedition this past summer.

The Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship sponsored by National Geographic held their annual Lindblad Expedition. Since 2006, 50 educators from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade from the U.S. or Canada have been selected every year to go on the week-long expedition. This year it was held in Greenland.

“I applied to be a National Geographic Educator and I did a program that consisted of 100-150 hours and I had to submit a portfolio to get accepted. Once I was accepted as a National Geographic Educator I was able to apply for what’s called a Grosvenor Teacher fellowship,” Mauritzen said.

Maurtizen dedicated a plethora of time to not only be a National Geographic Educator, but to receive the fellowship as well. She had to go through a 40 hour application process for the fellowship. Mauritzen had previously attempted multiple times to receive the grant. She persevered and finally received it in 2020 to go on the expedition to Iceland. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, it was canceled and Maurtizen had to wait again. After waiting for the expedition to resume, Maurtizen finally received the call and was ecstatic with the news.

“I got the call in March…We went to Greenland and it’s an expedition so you’re doing all sorts of things. You’re hiking to UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] world heritage sites,” Mauritzen said. “We did photography walks with National Geographic photographers. We saw what’s in Greenland underneath the ocean with undersea specialists.”

The week-long trip’s original location was set in Iceland, but later was changed to Greenland. Maurtizen and the Expedition crew spent the entirety of the week exploring constantly at these historic sites.

“So we went to this UNESCO heritage site and we ended up going down this winding path…and all of a sudden you see all these icebergs. Like 50 ft tall icebergs that are coming out of these glaciers that are like 30 miles away,” Mauritzen said.

According to Mauritzen, Greenland was not a touristy place so it was harder to navigate to certain sites for the average person. Seeing the icebergs was one of the many extraordinary views she got to experience. Had Maurtizen not been on this expedition she wouldn’t have been able to experience these profound sites.

“It has impacted my life. I was curious before, and I think I am now exceptionally curious,” Maurtizen said.

Although the expedition and fellowship is meant for education purposes, it affected Maurtizen personally. Being surrounded by very knowledgeable people and historic sites, it left her pondering about her own current surroundings.

“I was with a naturalist and he said, ‘you know you could do this at home.’ You can look at the flowers on the ground, you can look at the birds, you can be curious about so much more. I think since I went, I am just incredibly curious about everything around me. I have a much better appreciation for nature,” Mauritzen said.

This experience has left Maurtizen also wanting to add more to her curriculum within the classroom by expanding students’ horizons through different resources. While the expedition impacted Mauritzen individually, she also hopes to extend that impact to her students.

“This experience really helped me look through the lens of an explorer mindset and I hope my students develop an insatiable curiosity to develop a deeper understanding of how all of us are interconnected throughout the world,” Mauritzen said.