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IPY PolarEDUCATORS Workshop
 


Leah Davidson on Heroina Island in the Danger Islands
Photo: Leah Davidson

Leah Davidson, Student
Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada

When I peruse images of retreating glaciers and hear how the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula has risen three degrees Celsius in the last five decades, it is easy to grow discouraged. In a presentation at my school, renowned historian and journalist Gwynne Dyer predicted that the world would end in wars over scarce natural resources and that it was too late for anything short of atmospheric intervention. What can I do? I left the room wondering. Apparently, carpooling, taking shorter showers, and even opting for wind or geothermal energy will not save this planet for my children and grandchildren.

Over the course of the Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011, I saw Adélie penguin chicks chasing their parents, humpback whales feeding, and seals lying tranquilly on sea ice. Through the majestic towering icebergs and snowy mountain peaks that blended into the white of the clouds, I experienced Antarctic’s transformational power and began inadvertently replacing environmental cynicism with hope. I befriended young innovators and leaders with whom I can implement projects to encourage sustainable development and direct encounters with nature and wildlife. I met adults pursuing diverse passions, who, whether artists or scientists, see a distinct link between their careers and the natural world. I learned that youth can change tomorrow if they are surrounded by supportive people who believe in their potential to do so. As we aim to protect the poles and the planet, we, Students on Ice alumni, need others to share our dream-the dream that in 50 years we might return to Antarctica and find an abundance of healthy penguins, seals, birds, and whales waiting patiently for us.

From exploring the history of Antarctic dog sledding and participating in art workshops to unwinding in a “hot tub” created on an active volcanic site, this two-week journey has opened my eyes and blown my mind in innumerable ways. On behalf of my fellow expeditioners, I would like to thank Canada Goose for providing us with beautiful jackets and caps and for following us to (literally) the other end of the Earth.

 

Weddell Seal and Malaika Vaz, Antarctic Peninsula
Photo: Morgan Clark

Malaika Vaz, Student

Goa, India

 

My experiences in Antarctica

 

Antarctica is a continent that epitomizes beauty, tranquility, pristine landscapes and flourishing wildlife. Visiting this incredible continent had always been one of my dreams, so when I heard about the opportunity to go there from the National Centre for Antarctic and Oceanographic Research (NCAOR), I decided to apply. I was elated when I got to know that I was the only Asian chosen for the expedition along with 59 other students from around the world. The aim of this expedition is to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders so that they can practice and promote respect for the planet and its natural resources. We explored the southern part of South America (Argentina) before setting off to experience the essence of peninsular Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean. We had to pass through the Drake Passage which has the roughest seas in the world, which surely provoked bilious feelings. My first sight of Antarctica was truly magnificent – sprawling glaciers, penguin rookeries, majestic icebergs, whales breaching – something I am sure will remain embedded in my memory for years to come.

While we were in Antarctica we hiked, performed research activities, had discussions and observed the endemic wildlife of the region. The wildlife in Antarctica is mostly marine. We were enthralled by the sighting of many cetaceans like humpback whales, orcas (killer whales), Minke whales and dolphins as well. Besides whales, there were many seals and literally millions of penguins in their rookeries. Our time on shore was usually spent observing our little flightless companions and learning from the insightful chaperones that were always willing to impart their knowledge on their respective fields of expertise.

 

One of the highlights of my expedition was lying on a glacier in Antarctica surrounded by utter, pure, unrefined silence with only a Weddell seal for company. It was a truly ethereal moment. Another one of the feelings I have experienced in Antarctica that I have never experienced before was our moments of silence – when we had the chance to reflect upon our experiences and just be at one with ourselves (for lack of a better explanation). We also did many fun things like playing soccer on an ice floe, swimming in frigid Antarctic waters and many more. It was particularly special to visit the Koerner pillow ice cap and perform scientific activities.

 

Meeting people from different parts of the world, interacting with them, having discussions about different topics was an enriching experience. It was interesting to discuss the differences in our cultures and we all realized that international co-operation would solve some of the world’s problems including global warming and modern climate change. I have made many friends that I will continue to keep in touch with after the expedition. My experiences in Antarctica helped kindle in me profound respect for our natural ecology which inspired me and strengthened my resolve to protect it. The Antarctic treaty which was ratified by many countries as well as India states that there will be no exploitation of Antarctica and it sets out guidelines for the future welfare of Antarctica, reserving it as a place for peace and science. Antarctica is the quintessential example of the results yielded by international co operation. If only the world could co-operate in a way similar to Antarctica international discord would be a concept of the past. The stark pristine serenity of Antarctica is awe-inspiring and its gargantuan size makes you feel insignificant and yet the effects of our increasingly large carbon footprint poses are hardly insignificant... Pollution and global warming are the cause of the glaciers and hairlines of environmentalists receding. One of the important facts that I learnt on this expedition was that regardless of the place you come from any thoughtless act you commit will manifest itself on the fragile polar ecosystems. Whatever affects the Arctic and the Antarctic today will affect the rest of the world tomorrow...

 

I must say that my Antarctica expedition with Students on Ice was a life-changing experience. It has helped me to have a broader perspective in my life and I do intend to share my experience with my community and country in order to bring about positive environmental change.

 


Alisha Fredriksson came face-to-face with this Weddell Seal in January

Copyright © Alisha Fredriksson. All rights reserved.

Alisha Fredriksson, Student
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

As I was strolling along Whalers Bay on Deception Island, three Chinstrap penguins appeared from the sea and hopped up onto the shore. While two froze upon spotting me, one was exceptionally curious and courageous. His pink, webbed feet slowly began to splash in my direction as his chubby body hobbled awkwardly towards me. When he was standing less than a metre away, the splashing ceased, the claws held their ground, and two piercing, orange eyes locked their gaze upon me. They stared at my feet, then up my towering body, and then straight into my eyes. I crouched down slowly and soundlessly until I arrived at his level, seeing completely eye to eye.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this one moment had a profound effect on my perception of Antarctica’s wildlife. The penguin’s curiosity in me revealed that he had never encountered human beings before. He had no idea who we are and he definitely did not understand that we are the reason for the gradual depletion of his habitat. Chinstrap penguins, along with every other type of Antarctic wildlife, are beginning to suffer due to the unsustainable and irresponsible lifestyles that we have been living. They are vulnerable, defenseless, and in need of our help. Although the effects of climate change are not blatantly obvious, the Students on Ice expedition enabled me to observe retreating glaciers and learn about the shocking temperate increases that have occurred in Antarctica over mere decades. The ten days sailing through Antarctic waters provided me with a glimpse of the drastic impacts that global warming is and will be having. They showed me that there truly is no time to waste and that we must act now if we hope to save our beautiful planet.

Just as this one Chinstrap encounter opened my eyes to the potential effects of climate change, there were many other moments that expanded my field of sight as well. For example, our various quiet times triggered an appreciation for disconnecting from the synthetic world. In addition, conversing with members from our diverse expedition team taught me the value of collaborating with people from a multitude of backgrounds. There were several moments that did not have intellectual impacts on me, but rather powerful emotional ones. A particularly memorable experience was simply lying in the snow several metres from a sleepy Weddell Seal. The comfort and tranquility that emanated from his gentle gaze and subtle smile enhanced the beauty of the surrounding Antarctic seascape. This sleepy Weddell Seal, the curious Chinstrap Penguin, and numerous other sights I was fortunate enough to behold inspired me to make meaningful changes to my life and encourage others to do the same. I am honoured to be a member of the incredible Students on Ice Alumni team and to have the opportunity to pursue my newfound inspiration by joining initiatives and receiving the support to start my own.

 

Maggie Campbell in the Antarctic wind
Copyright © Garry Donaldson, Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Maggie Campbell, Student
Paris, France

My name is Maggie. I am 16 years old and have been travelling and moving around the world all my life, so when I set out with the inspirational Students on Ice 2011-12 Antarctic Youth Expedition team, it was not the long airport hours and bus rides that seemed the most daunting. To be able to capture an experience as indescribable as this one is a very overwhelming task. We travelled all the way from the cold land of Canada, to mild Miami, to scorching Buenos Aires and then windy Ushuaia before finally sailing to frigid Antarctica. We were all very thankful that we had our lovely Canada Goose jackets complete with the Students on Ice logo, kindly made for the expedition by Canada Goose, to keep us warm and feeling like a team. All the things that we saw and experienced even before we got to the Antarctic Peninsula, including meeting a team of about 89 dynamic and insightful individuals from across the globe, sightseeing and exploring in Buenos Aires, hiking to a pristine Laguna in Ushuaia and getting used to life on the sea; cannot be condensed or be done justice by any medium. Antarctica is a very special place. When you’re standing on shore, just listening to the water or smelling the air, you become instantly inspired and more aware of where we stand on the Earth. Even the animals seem to have a quiet wisdom about them, as they go about their daily adventures. It’s difficult to tell where the land ends and the sky begins, like being in an envelope of snow, cloud, mountain and water. I feel now that I have a new perspective and responsibility to make a difference, to encourage others and to leave this planet healthier than it was when I got here. Experiences shape who we are and who we become, and Antarctica has given me, as well as the rest of the team, a marvelously powerful one that has changed us for the best.

 

Selin Jessa on the bow deck of the MV USHUAIA
Photo: Selin Jessa

Selin Jessa, Student
Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

When I set foot on the plane at Vancouver International Airport for the first leg of my Students on Ice expedition one month ago, I knew I was ready to be changed by Antarctica. What I didn't expect was to be changed on so many levels. The fortnight I spent with Students on Ice were two of the most inspiring, free and exciting weeks of my life. I have never felt as alive as I did in Antarctica. Our days were packed with shore landings and profound encounters with the Antarctic wildlife. Witnessing the cycle of life that exists in such a harsh environment was humbling as we realized the effects our actions have on creatures like seabirds, seals and penguins. Over and over we were treated to incredible displays of natural beauty: soaring albatrosses, massive tabular icebergs, and pods of killer whales breaching in and out of the water. We were lucky to be travelling with experts, artists, educators and scientists with astounding depth and breadth of knowledge. Travelling to Great White Continent in such an inspiring context was a key part of what made this expedition so life-changing. Our expedition worked through the challenges together – battling the cold with our fantastic Canada Goose gear, meeting changes to the plan with flexibility and open minds, and motivating each other on the longest hikes. By the end of our journey, it was difficult to imagine that we had only met one another a mere two weeks earlier. The conversations I had and close friendships I made with people from around the globe hit home the idea that we are all part of the same human family, working towards collective hopes and goals and I'm so excited to share what I've learned with my community. This experience has sparked in me an overpowering desire to chase after those moments of intense connection to myself, the people around me, and the Earth. I definitely didn't wake up one morning a completely different person, but slowly, I am discovering the myriad ways Antarctica has changed me.

 


Selin Jessa's Personal Journal
Photos: Selin Jessa

The third picture is of Amundsen’s team, the first explorers to reach the South Pole.
I love this picture because I don’t feel like there’s any sense of victory in it, no pride at having conquered one of the last great frontiers. It’s almost a scene of humility.
I like the idea that these explorers, the first men to set foot and flag on the South Pole, were touched by the same awe that touched us in Antarctica.

 

Selin Jessa, Student
Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Antarctica is surreal, the expedition was so powerful, and I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have shared it all with a group of beautiful and inspiring people. First order of business: sleep!

 

Hilmar Eggertsson surrounded by sea ice
Photo: Hilmar Eggertsson

Hilmar Eggertsson, Student
Gonderange, Luxembourg

I was born close to the Arctic in Iceland, so Antarctica seemed like a continent, so distant, which I never would be able to explore and visit. However, Students on Ice gave me this unique opportunity to discover the world’s most remote continent. Before the expedition I was hoping to learn more about modern climate change and how much Antarctica really affects the rest of the planet. I was also eager to see and learn about the existing wildlife there and how climate change is affecting it. I also wanted to explore and live in this polar wilderness, away from the noise, pollution and society at home, and to establish an even stronger connection with nature. The expedition itself was absolutely fantastic, it was such a sublime experience. I had the opportunity to meet different people from around the globe and share our opinions on current affairs. All of us were passionate in our own way, eager to acquire knowledge and always open to new ideas and opinions. All of this was truly inspiring. We were so privileged to be joined by such a great group of staff, varying from marine biologists to scientists to polar explorers to musicians, artists to an economist and a lawyer. I learned a lot and gained a new perspective on life from this experience. The beautiful Antarctic nature and wildlife especially touched me. The Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011 was truly a life changing experience and if I could I would go again in a heartbeat.

I am very glad that Canada Goose supported this project, as they donated such wonderful jackets for our Antarctic endeavors. These jackets kept us warm and were very comfortable in variable conditions. I am still wearing mine, as I love it and it definitely saved some students who lost their luggage! Finally, I would just like to thank both Canada Goose and Students on Ice for this unique and wonderful opportunity.

 

Camille Slack and Serena Soucy on Heroina Island in the Danger Islands
Copyright © Garry Donaldson, Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Serena Soucy, Student
Fergus, Ontario, Canada

Two weeks may seem like a long time, but when every day is jam-packed with incredible outings, inspirational people, workshops, music and more, you find out how short two weeks really can be. I grew up in a small town where the outdoors has always been a big part of my life, but I had never in my wildest dreams imagined myself at sixteen years old walking among colonies of penguins thousands strong, playing soccer on a massive three-kilometer-long piece of sea ice or sitting huddled in an old, rusted oil drum at Whalers Bay on Deception Island playing my guitar and listening to the sounds echo all around me. Waking up the first morning in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica was so incredibly surreal. I rushed onto the bow of the ship and stood there, just gazing out at the beautiful scene around me; the myriad of icebergs that were passing were stunning. Time and the constancy of the sea had shaped these bergs and were providing me with my own private museum of sculptures. It made me realize – not for the first time – how incredibly small I am, yet how incredibly important I am.

This experience has helped me to understand more about how we are affecting the planet. Even though I could physically see how much certain glaciers had receded from the sea and a lot of evidence of what is wrong with our planet, I also saw hope for the future. I know that me and my fellow Students on Ice have a challenge ahead of us: to save the world and heal our wounded planet. She is beautiful and worth every effort we give her.

 

Mary Williams and Julian Jenneskens on Brown Bluff
Photo: Mary Williams

Julian Jenneskens, Student
Frankfurt, Germany

I learned about Students on Ice in the summer of 2011. At that time I reckoned that an expedition to Antarctica would probably the most memorable journey I might ever experience in my life. My clear aims and objectives in participating were to gain an insight into the beauty and danger of Antarctica in relation to the rest of the world, knowing that its beauty would be the dominant feature. I prepared myself to take in as much of the environment as possible, in order to share my experiences and inspire my community back in Germany. Reminiscing about the best time of my life makes me both sad and hopeful, since I am certain that all the wonderful people I met on this expedition will make positive changes in the world and preserve Antarctica for future generations.

Canada Goose contributed greatly to the expedition in providing us with excellent jackets and helping to unite us. They succeeded in this not only because the stimulating slogan, “Protect the Poles, Protect the Planet”, was embroidered on every jacket, but also by making us more comfortable and presenting us as a wonderful, organized and enthusiastic expedition team working for the same cause. The expedition was an ineffable experience that is worthy the most beautiful and breathtaking descriptions anyone could think of. David Fletcher, a base commander and polar historian, was one of the most inspirational individuals I have ever met. He has travelled to Antarctica and the Arctic all his life, however he remains humble, repeating that he is one of the most fortunate people alive by being able to dedicate his life to the poles. Through his storytelling, David touched me emotionally, inspired me and provided me with many things to think about that I will never forget.

It now feels unreal to me that I participated in this brilliant expedition – with all these very passionate and whole-hearted staff members, students and crew that were all part of this life-changing experience. I am sure it will take years for me to fully process everything I have learned and I don’t know if I will ever be able to reach profound and/or accurate conclusions. One thing I can repeat is that this was the best experience of my life and I would recommend a Students on Ice expedition to anyone who is interested in experiencing the time of his or her life. Believe me, what Antarctica is really like cannot be put into words, but I can only say that I am extremely grateful to everyone who supported me including my parents, grandparents, friends, and teachers to give me the opportunity to see Mother Earth’s last preserved wilderness. All of us expeditioners were fortunate to have been part of this experience, learning at various sites in Antarctica that most people can only dream of. It is therefore our responsibility to actively make positive change in whatever way we can. Everyone can make a difference! If we all work together Antarctica will remain magnificent. Please do everything you can to protect the poles and inevitably the planet.

 

Penguin Egg Art
Photo: Alana Krug-MacLeod

Alana Krug-MacLeod, Student

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

 

LEARNING TO FLY

 

Foot-bound biped,

I am tied to the ground –

except when

windswept

at top speed on my bike

I occasionally taste flight.

 

Foot-bound biped

I am tied to the ground

except for

the day my ScienceTrek teacher tells me of

Students on Ice

in Antarctica!

Then, my feet leave the ground.

 

Momentarily, at least,

until gravity –

in the form of a fourteen thousand dollar price tag –

pulls me down,

and once again,

I am a foot-bound biped,

tied to the ground.

 

Then, one day my feet are lighter,

fighting gravity once more.

I apply for a Leacross Foundation Scholarship.

And there is a bounce in my step,

no flight, just the possibility of it. . . .

 

[Already I am dreaming

of documentaries I direct,

in a land of ice and animals that call to me –

even though we have never met.]

 

Dreaming. Waiting. Hoping. Fearing.

 

And then suddenly,

in a rush I am not expecting,

I am way above the ground.

I am going to Antarctica!

I am going to Antarctica?!

I am going to Antarctica!

To Antarctica!

Like a helium balloon, my soaring heart

pulls my feet up, up from the ground

and I cannot land

for days, weeks . . .

 

Gortex snowpants and Neoprene boots

Essays, tests, and clarinet notes

Ember the jacket, long underwear

Press releases, interviews, CTV news!

Camera, swimsuit, socks

Research, reflections, assignments

Christmas!

Backpack, full, empty, sort, re-pack, zip.

Tickets, passport, e-mail, Skype.

Hugs good-bye,

we set flight.

Standing, waiting, dozing,

Saskatoon.

Standing, waiting, meeting, flying, dozing,

Toronto.

Standing, waiting, flying, dozing,

Miami.

Standing, waiting, flying, dozing,

Buenos Aires.

Standing, waiting, touring, standing, waiting, flying, dozing,

Ushuaia!

Meeting, hiking, boarding, sailing, STOP.

 

I lay motionless,

fighting nausea,

unable to eat,

sleeping and dreaming,

missing sessions my brain wants to absorb.

Wings, why won’t you work on this sea passage?

Why won’t you carry me above the waves

with the Pintado Petrels?

Why this testing, I wonder?

Is it to help me try harder to lift myself in the air?

 

Broken wings heal the instant we leave the Drake.

Antarctica hides behind a curtain

of haze, rain, snow and sleet

Veiled by mist,

shrouded in mystery

the dark cliffs of Elephant Island

loom ominously from the snow filled horizon.

 

Later,

majestic icebergs float serenely

on glassy water,

unfathomably deep.

And my wings unfurl,

itching to soar over the Weddell Sea.

 

Penguins

waddle, regurgitate, defecate, squawk

Yet somehow,

diving, jumping, fluffy comics –

impossibly cute –

they inspire.

How can anyone bear to melt this home away?

How can flightless birds make everyone around them fly?

 

Penguin chick,

alone,

vulnerable,

pecked to death by snow chickens*

while we watch helplessly.

Save yourself!

Try harder!

But you cannot do it alone.

You need friends, protectors

like your friends need friends, protectors

all over the globe –

policy-making, bike-riding, educating, researching—friends.

And at Palmer Station I know I will be one of them;

I will help penguins fly

into the hearts of every selfish, uncaring, apathetic person!

 

Forty three hours in transit –

much of the time on the ground –  

yet I am FLYING the whole way,

home.

Yet strangely, away from home,

away from Antarctica –

that land of

ice, penguins, miracles

and enchantment

everywhere in the light, colours, forms.

 

Again I am a foot-bound biped

grounded

by sleep.

 

Can I fly through jelled agar?

Vision blurred,

breath shortened,

wings bound in viscosity?

A wall of missed assignments,

final exams,

chaos,

deadlines way too short.

 

I remember that somehow on a ship,

I could fly . . .

How in the ocean, at nine degrees below Celsius,

I dived through the water like a penguin in flight . . .

 

On the peak of the Koerner ice cap

surrounded by sparkling vistas and data collectors . . .

At Palmer research station observing the magic of nurturing penguins

and dreaming of a polar research career . . .

At sessions on the ship

with a new-formed global family

sharing expertise, passion and stories . . .

Sailing through the Weddell Sea,

falling in love with the colours

of this white, azure, cerulean, indigo, cobalt, turquoise, aquamarine, bejeweled world

I could imagine taking flight.

 

Every day Antarctic memories and images call out to me

but once again

I am a foot-bound biped

tied to the ground

by assignments (some of questionable value),

by the mundane realities of life.

 

On a swing, propelled by love,

I am a flying penguin.

In an igloo,

built of caring and shared values,

I dream of the Antarctic

and the Arctic,

where polar bears can fly

like the Adélie, Gentoo and Chinnies

that I must see and see again,

that must remain

for other generations to see,

that will teach us all to fly . . .

 

And then, my feet hit the ground

as a new school term begins,

again my limbs are working in gel,

fighting fiercely to move freely.

 

Frozen at below forty degrees Celsius,

somehow biking to school

melts the ice that imprisons my body.

 

Warmth comes in the form of

the Scheals Facebook group,

the Carbon Neutral Antarctica plans

rethinking the Antarctic treaty . . .

Painted eggs,

project proposals,

Antarctic research,

radio station interview,

local newspaper article –

these things weaken the chemical bonds that bind me.

Once again, my feet have left the earth.

 

I test my wings

Can I fly again?

As with biking, my body remembers.

My blood races,

my heart smiles,

my mouth beams.

I CAN fly!

 

I will fly

like the wandering albatross who glide

and for years never, ever stop moving

through the air.

 

I WILL fly.

We 

will fly

TOGETHER.

 

(Inspired by my feathered and featherless friends)

February 1, 2012

 

*pale billed sheathbills

 

Maggie Campbell and Laurissa Christie
Photo: Alisha Fredriksson

Laurissa Christie, Student

Tara, Ontario, Canada

 

It is hard to believe that one month ago I was in Antarctica. So much has happened over the past month and so much has changed. I cannot begin to possibly describe the impact Antarctica had on me as a person and as an environmentalist. I formed friendships and memories which I am certain will last a lifetime. I experienced something so few will ever see: I hiked up volcanoes, stood on top of glaciers, slid down icecaps, and watched millions of penguins in awe. Picking a favourite moment of the expedition is impossible, the places we went were amazing and the people I experienced it with are incredible.  I feel so blessed to have been given this amazing opportunity. I would like to thank my family and everyone who has supported me on this adventure. 

 

I have been home for a few weeks and have already noticed a change in my life. I have become more environmentally conscientious, more positive, and more hopeful. I have presented my experiences to countless school and community groups so far. Each presentation encourages people to live their lives greener and tells them how one person really can make a difference. Imagine if the 7 billion people on the planet said no to bottled water. Imagine if every single youth wrote a letter to their president or prime minister. Imagine what could happen. Each “imagine” begins with a dream. And each dream begins with inspiration. My dream of travelling to Antarctica began as a little girl. In 2009 I went to the Arctic, and after returning I became more determined to go to the Antarctic. I am a little sad to be home but I know that this is just the beginning, the beginning of a lifetime of friendships, memories and inspiration. This is just the beginning of our journey of “Generation G”; a global generation, a green generation, a grateful generation, and a generous generation. I cannot wait to see what the future holds and am so hopeful. From the wise lyrics of my favourite song: “Don’t stop believing, and hold onto this feeling.” Students on Ice has changed my life.

 

I promise I will never forget everything I have learned. I love you all. 

 

Daphnée Dubouchet-Olsheski
Photo: Daphnée Dubouchet-Olsheski

Daphnée Dubouchet-Olsheski, Student
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

 
Seeing the end of the World

 
I literally cruised into 2012. On December 31st, 2011, I was rockin’ and rollin’ in the Drake Passage. I was headed to the end of the world. Antarctica!

The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet in this passage and it’s not a pleasant introduction, let’s just say. The waves were wicked. It’s what they call the “Drake Shake”. Our boat, the MV Ushuaia, while a sturdy vessel for Polar passages, still felt the tilt and force of the waves. I was prepared. I’m a rower after all! Water and waves don’t faze me. At night, we were literally rocked to sleep in our bunks.

It takes about two days to reach Antarctica from Ushuaia, Argentina. I was outside on the ship when I started seeing in the distance a shadowy mountain which was land. It was Elephant Island but it was in the distance so it took a while before we got there. On the way there, we started seeing icebergs. They were really massive and amazing. It was summertime in Antarctica. It was -5°C.

Our first landing was on Heroina Island. Before landing, we went in Zodiacs and we cruised around little icebergs and saw some seals, penguins (!) and birds. While in the Zodiacs, we were all clawing at each other to get a good view of a penguin and a good shot (photo). We were worried that we would never get close enough to a penguin. But, boy, were we wrong! At our first landing at Heroina, we were greeted by not one, not two, but hundreds of thousands of penguins!!

We went on more landings along the Antarctic continent and saw more penguins, seals and whales. Amazingly, penguins became part of the landscape so we weren’t as excited anymore.

A real treat was when we had a landing on an iceberg (ice floe). It was just ice floating in the middle of the ocean attached to nothing! We played soccer on it.

It was really cool when I saw a penguin parent feeding its baby – it was regurgitating in its mouth. I saw an iceberg break off of a glacier and it made a thunderous noise.

We hiked up a mountain on Paulet Island and it was a really beautiful sight. We could just see the massive ocean around with icebergs floating everywhere. There, we had a moment of silence. But, it was, in fact, really loud with the sound of nature! We could hear thunderous breaking glaciers and the penguin cries. Those sounds resonated everywhere.

What struck me were the massive amounts of penguins. Some islands were completely filled with penguins from top to bottom. They came super close. One penguin even slapped me! It hopped by me and its flipper slapped my leg.

It’s 2012. I saw the end of the world. And, it’s not one bit scary. It’s bright and white. It’s clean. It’s untainted. It’s perfect. And, I’m 1000 percent committed to keeping it that way!

 

Shaziana Kaderali and Antarctic Snowman
Copyright © Mike Beedell, Students on Ice. All rights reserved.

Shaziana Kaderali, Student
St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

I had just celebrated my 16th birthday when I was awarded the scholarship, literally less than 3 weeks before leaving. I still had school, assignments, an exam, performances, a water-show and a synchronized swimming competition before the holidays. I’m really happy that I didn’t hesitate to take this opportunity. Even as I landed in Toronto it hadn’t yet hit me that I was really on my way to the bottom of the world. Though I felt that I had packed sufficiently for the expedition, I was glad to have another layer to add to my clothes when we received those wonderful Canada Goose Jackets and hats. I currently wear that jacket every day.

Before going to Antarctica, I didn’t know much about the giant continent, or Argentina, and I had no idea what to expect. Throughout the trip, Antarctica would teach me the importance of environmental sustainability, how humans have impacted our planet and what could happen to society as a result of our habits. While in Antarctica and even now, I still keep thinking to myself how crazy it was to be there and how surreal the whole experience was.

Now that I have been home for a few weeks, I have tried to stay involved in what was started on the ship, such as the CarbonZero project and public awareness efforts. I have already had two formal interviews: one for CBC Radio and one for a local Rogers TV program, and I will be doing some presentations at school as well.

It is still hard to believe that I have been to Antarctica, Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, and that I lived on a ship for almost ten days with people I had never met. I am really thankful to have gone, to have met interesting, inspiring people, to have made new life-long friendships and to have learned so much.

I want to thank everyone who got me there, everyone who made the experience so wonderful, and I especially want to thank Canada Goose for offering Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011 participant some extra warmth and comfort.

 

Mark Mroz on Heroina Island, Antarctica
Photo: Mark Mroz

Mark Mroz, Student
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I would like to extend my gratitude to Canada Goose for the sweaters that were donated to students and staff on the SOI Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011-2012. The sweaters were warm and comfortable, and were perfect for the extreme cold conditions which we faced every day during our journey. The lining of the sweater was very soft and warm. It was very plush and comfortable enough to be worn with any clothing and on any occasion. The pouches on the jackets were perfect for holding small objects when our hands were full (such as journals to record our expedition experiences and other expedition gear). The most useful part of the garments were their waterproofness. They could be worn as an outer shell on the cold Zodiac rides, would not get wet and would keep us warm. The staff and students wore the jackets at all times through the rough Drake Passage, on the coldest landing on the ice floe, and on the ship between landing locations. The versatile jacket was an absolute must for all expedition participants. The students who participated in our Students on Ice program would like to extend our our gratitude to Canada Goose. Thank you!

 

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