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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Student travels to Grand Canyon to research noise pollution issues

NMU student Jesse Lynch, a sophomore speech language and hearing sciences major, spent part of his summer on a week-long backpacking and kayaking trip through the Grand Canyon with students from across the country.

The trip was coordinated by Global Explorers and Hear the World Association. Global Explorers is an organization that creates opportunities for students to travel and learn about the world.

Hear the World Association is an organization that promotes hearing impairment awareness. It was created to explore and further research about nature’s sounds and the issues with noise pollution, while promoting awareness for hearing loss and impairment.

The trip began on July 30 with a practice trip through Walnut Canyon, near the Grand Canyon. From there, the group made their way from Flagstaff, Ariz. to the Grand Canyon. The trip ended on Aug. 6, Lynch said.

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Lynch was one of 17 students to participate in the trip and was the only student from NMU. The students involved ranged from 14-20 years of age. Lynch was one of three college students to go on the trip and was one of three who was not hearing impaired.

“It was a pretty big eye opener,” Lynch said. “It helped my future career by giving me the experience to meet some people I may work with in the future and helped me to avoid getting stereotypes in my mind.”

Once in the Grand Canyon, Lynch said, the other students and a guide made their way down the river, stopping to sleep on the beach under the stars. Each student was equipped with clothes, a sleeping bag, tarp and a small air mattress, he said.

Their main project was to do first-hand research about the sounds in nature and how those sounds are affected by noise pollution from helicopter tours and other man-made distractions.

The Grand Canyon is facing problems with the helicopter tours and the wildlife in the canyon is affected by the noise, Lynch said.

In addition to the research in the canyon, students shared personal stories about what it is like to live with a hearing impairment and the stereotypes that come with it.

“You got to hear stories from students who have been treated poorly by peers and school systems,” Lynch said. “They treat them like they’re mentally handicapped, when they’re not.”

Several Skype meetings were held to prepare the group for the trip as well as work on the educational curriculum that taught the students how to become ambassadors and create campaigns to raise awareness before and after the trip.

After participating in the trip, Lynch hopes to help to create a Hear the World organization on NMU’s campus and college campuses across the country, he said.

“The trip was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Lynch said.

Laura Portalupi, the program director at Leading the Way, worked with Global Explorers to coordinate the trip. She also participated in the trip as the expedition leader.

The Grand Canyon was chosen because of the noise pollution issues and because it gave the students an opportunity to look at issues in specific places, she said.

“We feel like the Grand Canyon was an amazing location to study sound in many ways,” Portalupi said.

A $1,700 program fee was charged to students in the group, as well as the cost for airfare to fly in and out of Phoenix. The program fee covered food expenses, a travel guide and educational curriculum. Full scholarships were given to many of the participants, according to Portalupi.

“Overall, we had an amazing group of students who brought joy for life and a desire to learn,” Portalupi said.

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