In the News
Students on Ice Arctic Expedition 2011 News
Chilling tale of captivity on ice
Traveller’s Tale: Polar scientist and Masterton adventurer Grant Redvers
with his first book Tara Arctic – a New Zealander’s Epic Voyage.
(Photo: Lynda Feringa)
Polar adventurer Grant Redvers has had his first book – Tara Arctic: A New Zealander’s Epic Voyage – shortlisted for a national readers’ choice award.
The 300-page volume, which was published by Masterton-based Fraser Books, traces Redvers’ historic 500 days locked in Arctic ice as expedition skipper aboard the climate-mapping vessel Tara.
The book was launched at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in November and is in the running for the Whitcoulls Travel Book of the Year Award against nine other Kiwi titles.
The competition includes Swimming with Sharks: Tales from the South Pacific Frontline by Michael Field and Tea with the Taleban: Travels in Afghanistan by Ian Robinson.
The winner of the award will be decided by readers’ choice and votes may be cast online at www.travelcommunicators.co.nz.
Mr Redvers, 37, has a masters degree in environmental science and is a qualified yacht skipper and divemaster. The former Wairarapa College pupil worked as a hydrologist in Masterton and at Scott Base in Antarctica, before taking up life at sea. Since the Tara expedition, which ran from 2006-08, Mr Redvers has sailed to the coast of Greenland with a team of glaciologists and climate scientists, and early this year he will work with two Students on Ice expeditions to Antarctica.
Trip to Antarctica does get much bigger than this
It seems cliché to call it the trip of a lifetime.
That said, clichés sometimes do the best job of description and for Justine Wild, a 14-year-old Kamloops student, the saying holds true.
Wild will join about 75 other teens from around the world Dec. 27 for a two-week “educational adventure” on the ice fields and rocky shorelines of Antarctica. The group will spend the time on a research vessel, staffed with a team of about 30 scientists, historians, artists, explorers and educators.
It will be the biggest trip she’s ever taken – it’s hard to conceive of a bigger trip, actually – and as the cliché suggests, the trip that could well prove to be the biggest she will ever take.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting all these world-renowned scientists, and just to see what it’s like there,” Wild said. “There is nothing else like it.”
Geoff Green, the founder of the Students on Ice program and the expedition leader, said this will be the 12th year he has led student expeditions to the globe’s poles. He alternates between the Arctic and Antarctic, noting both have their own unique character.
The Arctic is more subtle, with a richer ecology while Antarctica is otherworldly in its isolation, ruggedness, climate and raw beauty.
Both kinds of expeditions, however, give students experiences designed to awaken their senses and make them more aware of global environmental issues.
His web site states the goal of the program hopes to develop “knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices that will help (students) to be Antarctic ambassadors and environmentally responsible citizens.”
He specifically chose the global poles as destinations over any number of wild locales from around the world because they take teens so far out of the realms they know into natural worlds unlike any other on the planet. The experience of being out of touch and away from home while learning firsthand from some of the world’s best scientists is “life altering,” he said.
“Fundamentally, these trips connects kids to nature in a (profound) way. This is an experience that touches them in the heart, almost in the bones,” he said.
“(The poles) are incredible platforms for education, they are amazing living classrooms. The polar regions are areas very few youth get to see first hand. And they are very much global cornerstones of the environment,” Green said.
The trip is not cheap, with each student required to pay $13,500 to take part.
Royanna Wild, Justine’s mother, said her daughter has been feverishly raising money as best she can for the past several months but in the end a big part of the cost will be born the parents.
She sees it as an investment in her daughter’s future, however, and hopes the experience will help positively shape her daughter’s future.
Wild said she will watch her daughter’s travels online, as the expedition will post daily updates to a blog.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity for her, and that’s all I can think about at this point,” she said.
Learn more about the expedition, or follow along starting Dec. 27, at http://studentsonice.com/antarctic2011/.
Vancouver high school student eyes Antarctic expedition Ship will sail across Drake Passage
Alisha Fredriksson has something significant to celebrate this Christmas and it’s not gifts under the tree.
The Prince of Wales mini school student won a $15,000 scholarship through the Leacross Foundation to join a two-week Students on Ice Antarctic expedition. She leaves Boxing Day.
Fredriksson is one of three Lower Mainland girls, and a total of five in Canada, to win this particular grant, which is aimed at young women.
She’ll be part of a larger group of 60 students—most are from Canada and the United States this trip, although a few are from other countries. Thirty scientists, artists, historians, polar experts, authors, educators, and explorers will accompany them. Activities include lectures, shore landings, interpretive hikes and Zodiac cruises.
The entire group, which meets in Argentina, will enjoy two days of pre-expedition activities in Ushuaia—the southern-most city in the world—and its surrounding region, before boarding the specially designed ice-class M/V Ushuaia expedition vessel Dec. 30. The ship will sail across the Drake Passage towards Antarctica. Students will experience almost 24-hour daylight during the journey and see wildlife such as Adelie and Gentoo penguins.
“My family travelled a lot when I was younger and just this summer we did a big trip to Europe, so travelling is definitely one of my passions,” said Fredriksson. “It’s an incredible opportunity to make lots of new friends… it’ll be interesting to learn from them and to work with them because they’ll have such different perspectives than I would. It’ll have a really strong, lasting impact on my view of climate change because that’s what the expedition focuses on.”
The 16-year-old Grade 11 student said the temperatures won’t be too cold—she’s been informed they’ll hover between -10 Celsius and 10 Celsius.
“I’m really excited about all the opportunities for photography because I really like photography. One of the things I’m most excited about is to see all the penguins because that’s something you don’t get to do every day,” she said.
Geoff Green, the founder and expedition leader for the Quebec-based Students on Ice, said Fredriksson and the other teens are among a privileged group of youth, who are able to visit Antarctica on the floating classroom.
“It will be quite a life-altering experience for them. It will expose them to all kinds of issues. It’ll give them a much broader perspective of the planet they live on and going to Antarctica is kind of like going to another planet,” he said.
This will mark Green’s 80th trip to Antarctica. He said the students on the voyage will have a responsibility to return home and share what they learn. “It’s very overwhelming. It’s very humbling and it changes people no matter what age they are. It exposes them to all kinds of knowledge—from the sciences to environmental issues, from history to politics. It’ll show them possible career options they might want to pursue, but the core underlying experience is a connection to nature that I hope will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
Students on Ice provides students from around the world with educational expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. Since 2000, nearly 1,800 high school and university students from more than 40 countries have visited Polar Regions through the program.
Drew to set sail for Antarctica
Drew Gibbons has less than two weeks before he travels from Canada
to Argentina. On December 30 he sails from Tierra del Fuego to Antarctica
with Students on Ice. (Photos: Supplied)
A punishing trek across the glaciers of Antarctica will bring Drew Gibbons one frosty step closer to his dream job.
The 18-year-old Dalby ex-pat has his sights set on securing a post with the United Nations in Geneva.
But first he will have to survive the bitter winds of the South Pole.
“I plan on seizing any opportunity that comes my way,” he said.
Mr Gibbons, currently on a student exchange in Canada, will set sail two days after Christmas as part of the international Students on Ice expedition.
As well as whales, penguins and white as far as the eye can see, the budding explorer will come face to face with some of the world’s leading scientific and environmental thinkers.
“The program’s mandate is to educate and inspire the next generation of polar scientists, environmental leaders and social innovators,” he said.
The 13-day journey will also take him to the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, in Argentina.
There he will get a chance to practise his Spanish – all part of his grand plan to build the skills he needs to land a job with the UN.
“I’m also extremely excited to set foot on some of the world’s most untouched islands such as Deception Island and Paulet Island, which are home to thousands of penguins and other marine life,” he said.
Mr Gibbons said it was the perfect end to his Canadian voyage.
Five days after returning to his host family, he will board a plane back to Australia to start a degree in international relations, majoring in Spanish.
Having dusted the snow from his boots, he said his first point of call would be the Dalby business that funded his trip, Ostwald Bros.
“I’m looking forward to returning home and sharing my Antarctic experience,” he said.
“Being part of a small community provides an incredible sense of belonging.”
Humour to put a student on ice
HUMOROUS: Rugby experts entertain the crowd in Masterton, NZ
in support of the Grant Redvers Students on Ice Scholarship;
Gary Caffell (far left), Bob Francis, Sir Brian Lochore, and Keith Quinn.
(Photo: Chris Kilford)
A humorous evening of rugby anecdotes and discussions in Masterton on Thursday night has helped raise $1400 for a teenager to sail around the Antarctic.
The evening was organised by a group of people who are trying to establish the Grant Redvers Scholarship.
Masterton’s Mr Redvers is an adventure scientist, who has been drifting around icy waters as part of Students on Ice – a Canadian-based organisation which sends students sailing to help understand environmental issues.
One organiser, Chris Petersen, said Mr Redvers wanted to share his experiences and achievements with local youth.
“We want to establish a scholarship which will send local students to the ice,” he said. “In future years, it will be open to all Wairarapa colleges.”
Wairarapa College Year 12 student, Mary Williams, has been chosen and will leave for her expedition on Boxing Day.
The evening, held at Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park, was entitled Rugby World Cup hosting – was it worth it? and included a panel of Sir Brian Lochore, Bob Francis, Keith Quinn and Times-Age sports reporter Gary Caffell.
Mr Petersen said it was an exciting evening, and each of the guests had great stories to tell – putting them at least a half hour over the allocated time.
There was also an auction which included a signed Georgia rugby jersey, a cricket bat signed by Wairarapa’s Ross Taylor, and a rafting trip.
Mary's really going to chill out
ON ICE: Mary Williams, 17, is going sailing around the Antarctic
for two weeks from Boxing Day with Students on Ice.
(Photo: Amie Hickland)
Masterton’s Mary Williams will sail through icy waters next week, to learn about the environment and tackle new challenges in the outdoors.
The 17-year-old will be travelling as part of Students on Ice, a Canadian-based organisation which sends teenagers to the Antarctic to educate them about the planet.
Miss Williams was selected for the trip after organisers called for applications from Wairarapa College.
She found out in August she was the recipient of the Grant Redvers Scholarship, established this year specifically to help young people make the journey.
Miss Williams said she was really looking forward to the trip and was hoping to gain a lot from the experience.
“It’s like a once in a lifetime opportunity …it’s going to be amazing,” she said.
“It will increase my awareness of global warming so I can spread the word.”
Miss Williams is keen on the outdoors and loves being challenged – some of the reasons she was so eager to make the trip.
Most of the funding has come from grants and fundraising events, such as Rugby World Cup hosting. She said organisers such as Chris Petersen, Karen Barbour and David Woodcock had been a great help, along with her parents.
She will travel to Buenos Aires next Monday and from there down to Ushuaia. She will spend five days near the Antarctic Peninsula with about 60 other students.
A student on a mission
Laurissa Christie of Tara leaves on December 27 for a two week expedition
to Antarctica with the Students on Ice program.
(Photo: WILLY WATERTON/OWEN SOUND SUN TIMES/QMI AGENCY)
Laurissa Christie will spend most of the Christmas break as part of a Students on Ice scientific expedition to the Antarctic.
The trip has been on the St. Mary’s student’s mind every day since her return in 2009 from a similar expedition to Canada’s Arctic.
Christie leaves from Toronto Dec. 27 for the 10-day trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, by way of Miami, Buenos Aires and the Argentine city of Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world.
The expedition team includes 60 students and 30 scientists and educators who will cross the Drake passage on an icebreaker to Antarctica. They’ll spend five full days in Antarctica, where the sun shines almost around the clock this time of year.
It’s the most accessible and diverse part of the Antarctic, know for penguins and elephant seals and other wildlife. It’s the only area of the Antarctic to go above 0’C and it will be summer.
“The Antarctic is the only place left on the planet that remains completely untouched,” Christie said. “The wildlife and the landscapes are completely unlike anything else anywhere else in the world.”
As in the Arctic, Christie expects fully scheduled days assisting the scientists, attending workshop sessions and being part of Zodiac landing expeditions and scientific excursions.
“We help out whenever we can and always ask lots of questions,” she said. “They have a full program set and they certainly take advantage of every moment and we’ll get to really soak in the the most spectacular scenery on the planet.”
Raised on a farm near Tara, Christie also spent time at a family cottage near Red Bay. Her love of the outdoors sparked an early interest in science and eventually the environment. She plans to study environmental science at university next year.
Christie’s projects proving the environmental benefits of biodiesel fuel over regular diesel and studying threats to honeybees earned gold, silver and bronze medals at national science fair competitions. She also earned a full scholarship from Youth Science Canada to be part of the 2009 Students on Ice polar expedition.
“The Arctic was by far the best experience of my life so far,” Christie said Monday at the Health Unit building where the Ontario scholar is a co-op student this semester with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. “I have literally thought about this expedition every single day of my life since I returned home from the Arctic.”
That first trip convinced her global warming is a planetary problem, although its signs show up most in the polar regions. At Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island’s Cumberland Peninsula, Christie hiked 30 kilometres and saw areas where year-round polar ice is disappearing.
“Just a couple of years ago these fjords were covered in ice, but now they were completely bare with just a tiny, tiny piece of ice on the the top,” Christie said. “It’s really concerning because it’s affecting all the people and it’s affecting the animals and it’s affecting the lifestyle. It’s changing one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We’re now finding polar bears in landfills, which I think is really, really wrong, because they can’t find ice to hunt on.”
Facing such evidence of climate change up close has prompted Christie to speak to other students at her school, encouraging more attention to recycling and more environmental consciousness.
“What I think I really learned is how our actions are affecting northern communities and northern people,” she said. “What happens at the polar regions really does affect the rest of the world.”
She is now convinced every small action can add up to make a difference, a message she shares at her school as a member of student council.
“I try to encourage as many people as possible to try and live their life a little bit greener,” said Christie, who last year received the Ontario Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award at St. Mary’s, given to a student at each Ontario high school.
“When I was younger, I thought it was so huge that it was completely unrealistic to try and do something. Now I’ve learned that you can do something and everybody’s tiny, tiny actions can make a big difference in the end.”
Christie said she’s eager to see how climate change in the Antarctic compares with what she saw in Canada’s far north. Like others on the voyage, she will be blogging daily and anyone interested can see the entries at www.studentsonice/antarctic2011.
Students heading to Antarctica
Later this month Serena Soucy (left) and Camille Slack (right) will travel to Antarctica
on an educational expedition with Students on Ice. (Photos: Supplied)
As the reality sinks in that they will soon be crossing the Drake Passage in an icebreaker bound for the Antarctic Peninsula, the nervous energy rises in the voices of Serena Soucy and Camille Slack, both 16.
The term “life-changing” is used repeatedly in their hurried speech.
The Grade 11 students at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus were recently chosen for the expedition of a lifetime, and will embark on Dec. 27 with more than 60 other international students on the program Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011. A team of 24 others, including scientists, academics, artist and writers, will also take part.
The two-week adventure will take them to the bottom of the world and into one of the most ecologically fragile and naturally beautiful places on Earth. Both can’t wait to see penguins and to swim in crystal clear waters warmed by underground volcanoes.
The girls, who both participate in the CELP (Community Environmental Leadership Program) — which they also describe as “life-changing” — said they went through a rigorous and detailed application process for the ship-based educational expedition. Since 2000, 1800 students from 40 countries have visited polar region with Students on Ice.
One of the most important things the selection committee wanted to know, they said, was what they planned to do with their new-found knowledge and insights once they returned.
“It’s an educational expedition,” said Soucy, who lives in Fergus. “I don’t look at it as something for myself as much as what I can do with it after, and how I can inspire youth and members of my community. I want to be able to come back from this amazing experience and be able to share it.”
The girls said CELP dramatically changed their lives, giving them a much broader perspective on the world we live in, and exposing them to the various opportunities that exist to help protect the environment and make the planet a better place to live. They were encouraged by CELP teacher Joel Barr to apply for Students on Ice.
“We want to make it a greener future,” said Slack. “Everyone kind of preaches about youth being the future, and how the entire world is in our hands. I think that’s great, because it’s true. We are going to be living on this planet for a long time, so it’s kind of up to us to shape it into what we want it to be.”
Learning as much as possible about all corners of the world is essential to understanding the world’s problems and what solutions are required, the girls said. Gaining firsthand knowledge about Antarctica, one of the most environmentally significant and least understood places on Earth, will help them inspire others to explore the world and work for change.
“We’re going to have New Year’s on this boat, and it’s going to be like a holiday slash amazing experience, best thing ever, all combined into this one amazing experience,” said Slack, who lives in Elora. Soucy agreed, completely.
While in the Antarctic, members of the expedition will study the environmental changes that are taking place there related to global warming, as well as the migratory patterns of the many bird species that reside on the continent.
Soucy, an aspiring musician, was excited to learn that Tony Dekker, the lead singer of the Great Lake Swimmers, will be on the expedition, and will conduct songwriting workshops aboard the vessel.
The program involves shore landings, interpretive hikes, Zodiac cruises, lectures and wildlife encounters with whales, seals and seabirds. Connecting to the natural world, gaining a deeper understanding and respect for the planet, and discovering solutions to Earth’s most pressing challenges, are among the expedition’s goals.
The girls are required to pay their own way for the trip, and are currently involved in fundraising efforts. Call Centre Wellington District High School at 519-843-2500 to help out.
Saskatoon Girl Gets Ready for a Trip of a Lifetime
Watch Alana Krug-Macleod’s December 23rd interview on Saskatoon CTV.
Alisha Fredriksson is one of five scholarship winners heading to Antarctica
VANCOUVER – A Vancouver student is leaving for a trip of a lifetime. Alisha Fredriksson, 16, is joining a group of students on a Students on Ice expedition to Antarctica.
Fredriksson says being chosen for a Leacross Foundation scholarship worth $15,000 to pay for the trip was as easy as applying for it, after a teacher at her Prince of Wales mini school mentioned it in class.
She says the students on the expedition are expected to help the 30 scientists and explorers who will be there with them. “We’re studying climate change. We’re going to be doing shore landings, zodiac cruising and different experiments, like studying ice core samples,” she explains.
Their visit coincides with the icy continent’s summer, so they will have almost continuous sunshine. “The temperatures won’t be too bad. We’re going in the summer, so it will be anywhere from 10 Celsius and -10.”
Who is going to Antarctica from Goa?
Fourteen-year-old Malaika Vaz is an adventure enthusiast and fiercely protective on environmental issues. Malaika anchors her own television programme called Spotlight with Malaika. Malaika won the 3rd position at the All India Windsurfing Nationals this year and will represent the country in Antarctica. She will be going to Antarctica on December 27. Her specific interests and concerns are tiger, shark and whale protection. Polar sciences interest her and she is already mentally preparing herself to participate in a Students on Ice Arctic youth expedition.
Great Lake Swimmers' Tony Dekker Touring Antarctica
In recent years, we’ve heard of bands like the White Stripes and Hey Rosetta! heading up north for shows in some seriously chilly climates. Something even more rare, however, is a musician playing shows in Antarctica. Starting today (December 27), Great Lake Swimmers frontman Tony Dekker will be doing just that, as he is launching a two-week tour of the world’s most unforgiving continent.
Of course, Antarctica’s fixed population is practically nil, so there aren’t exactly a lot of venues for Dekker to play at. The songwriter will be traveling with Students on Ice, a Quebec-based organization that takes students on trips of the Arctic and Antarctic. According to a press release, Dekker’s audience during this tour will consist of “a group of 60 high school students and a few millions penguins.”
The expedition will also include a “team of scientists, educators, journalists and, of course, artists.” Dekker said, in a statement, “I see the expedition as a good opportunity to practice my craft with an emphasis and focus on an environmental trip. For years I’ve been writing songs that have a connection with the environment. The beauty of a trip like this, and what really appeals to me, is that hopefully youth can become inspired.”
We’ll have to see if the next Great Lake Swimmers albums ends up including some tunes about his time in the Antarctic.
Of course, we won’t be able to attend any of these shows, but we can follow the trip’s progress over at the Students on Ice website, where the voyage be tracked with daily updates.
Winter holiday in Antarctica for Dr. Charles Best student
A Coquitlam high school student will be at the end of the world to hail the start of 2012.
Selin Jessa of Dr. Charles Best secondary is one of 65 international students taking part in the Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition, which runs from Dec. 27 to Jan. 10.
Jessa learned about the research adventure from Victoria Wee, a Port Moody secondary student who spoke in September at TedxKids@BC about her recent Students on Ice trip to the Arctic. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ I could do that, too,” Jessa said.
After a bit of digging online, Jessa filled out the lengthy application forms and, luckily, was accepted — complete with a $13,000 scholarship. “If I hadn’t have gotten that, I doubt I would have been able to attend,” she said.
After winning a place, Jessa emailed the two other B.C. girls also heading to the South Pole, gathered lots of warm clothes, and started writing and drawing in her new travel journal. She plans to post her entries on her blog afterwards.
Her journey is this: on Boxing Day, Jessa flew to Toronto then hopped on the very long plane ride to Buenos Aires, Argentina, before transferring to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, where she is to spend four days settling and learning about the area. Before Dec. 31, Jessa, the students and 30 adult scientists, teachers, historians, artists and other leaders are to make the grueling voyage on the 84-passenger cruise ship, the MV Ushuaia, across the Drake Passage, or Mar de Hoces, braving the giant waves that stretch between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile, and the South Shetland Islands.
But once at the Antarctic Peninsula, they will disembark during the day to take on a number of activities such as wildlife encounters (including with penguins); visits to research stations; viewing the impacts of climate change; and, of course, hearing lectures and participating in workshops.
Since 2000, more than 1,800 high school students, aged 14 to 19, from nearly 50 countries have joined a Students on Ice expedition in the Arctic or Antarctica; its aim is to educate young people about global issues.
Jessa, who has a passion for environmental justice, believes it will be a trip of a lifetime. “I’m sure it will be great on so many levels for me,” she said during an interview in her school’s science lab before the Christmas break. “The people who I will meet, the places I will go. It will be so incredible, especially since I’ve never travelled this far away from home ever.”
Next year, Jessa said she plans to share her stories about the southern hemisphere, possibly in classrooms around the Coquitlam school district but, mostly likely, as a speaker of TedxKids@BC, of which she’s on the organizing committee.
• For more information on Selin Jessa’s journey, visit her blog at selinjessa.tumblr.com
New Year in Antarctica
14: 'Ice Age' for young Malaika
Students study climate change at the South Pole
Ottawa’s Mark Mroz participated in the recent
Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011.
Radio Canada International featured Mark in a recent story about the expedition.
Sixty students from around the world headed to Antarctica this month on a three week adventure and a mission: to look for ways of mitigating the effects of climate change. As The Link’s Amanda Pfeffer reports, the Ottawa-based organisers of the Students on Ice voyage, say it’s becoming increasingly urgent for young people to learn about climate change.
Little penguins inspire teen activist
Alisha Fredriksson won a Leacross Foundation scholarship to participate
in the 12th annual Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition
(Photo: Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail)
Alisha Fredriksson aims to educate students
about the environmental issues facing Antarctica
“Rocks!” Alisha Fredriksson shouted to the hikers below as she sent debris tumbling down the 350-metre-high volcano she was climbing on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
At the peak, the 16-year-old peered out at the rows of icebergs that surround the planet’s serene southern pole. Taking a moment of silence with her fellow climbers, she was bound by the only sound – the chirping of a couple hundred thousand Adélie penguins that inhabit a region humans can only tour.
The young woman explained the sensation on a satellite phone hours later, in the midst of a recent two-week journey exploring the Antarctic Peninsula with 58 other students and 30 adults as part of the Students on Ice annual expedition. It’s an experience designed to instill deep-seated connections among youth and the environment, while chewing over global warming on the continent that is home to 90 per cent of the world’s ice.
For Alisha, a Grade 11 student at Vancouver’s Prince of Wales Mini School, a school within a high school catering to academic high achievers, winning one of five Leacross Foundation scholarships for this once-in-a-lifetime voyage is another feather in her cap. The Hungarian-born daughter of a Chinese mother and a Swedish father is a budding activist, a profitable entrepreneur and a champion rhythmic gymnast.
Alisha belongs to an inspiring legion of young activists poised to take on the unfinished causes of their parents’ generation. She has grown up immersed in dinner-table conversations about “the magnitude of climate change,” explains her father, Claes, who helps to operate a green-energy social networking site, IsCleaner.com [http://www.iscleaner.com]. She has spent Christmas Eves handing out presents to the homeless in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and her exposure to the striking contrast in fortunes both within and among the four countries she has called home – Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada – have infused her with what her father calls “a willingness to take on the world.”
She is full of ideas and, judging by her prizewinning science-fair projects, such as her Shower Heat in Floor Tiles plan to retain heat from wastewater, she has the drive to give them life.
Alisha’s latest brainchild is a project to pair individual rooms at upscale hotels with Habitat for Humanity houses sponsored by donations from guests staying in those rooms. She says the initiative is still in “phase one,” but she already has the support of the chief executive officer of Kiwi Collection, a company that curates a listing of luxury hotels around the globe, and she has touched base with Habitat for Humanity.
Last summer, standing in a hotel room in Courmayeur, Italy, where she was travelling with her family, “it just sort of hit me,” she says. “I just realized how I was fortunate enough to live in places away from my home when some people don’t have homes to begin with.”
But it’s not just charity work she is interested in; Alisha also runs a small jewellery company, Brite Jewelry, for which she made a website two years ago and has since filled orders from as far away as Japan. She hands over her business card and explains proudly that the “hobby” has earned her around $4,000.
And she credits gymnastics with teaching her valuable life lessons. A six-time provincial champion, she clings to a few traumatizing memories of failure to keep her motivated. At the western regional championships four years ago, she dropped all her throws during a ball routine. “I was just feeling embarrassment and terror,” she says.
“It’s happened a couple of times, where I make one mistake and then it just snowballs. The challenge is to just forget about what’s happened and just focus on the moment.”
That is what she tried to do as she experienced moment after moment of awe while sailing around the Antarctic. The stunning amounts of ice in the southern netherworld and the remarkably unperturbed penguins are forever etched into her mind.
Her voice raises and her speech quickens in detailing the birth of a baby penguin: “We saw the egg hatching, a little penguin moving its head and peeking out.”
It was a brush with new life to bring the trip home. “Meeting all the wildlife to see how our unsustainable lifestyles will hurt them,” she says. ” … The things I do and the choices I make will affect these little penguins on the other side of the world.”
With her adventure complete and her activism emboldened, Alisha plans to show pictures and share stories at Vancouver elementary schools, doing her part in the endless campaign to rally more kids to the cause.
Students on Ice
Students on Ice, based in Gatineau, connects environmentally minded youth, inner-city teens and northern aboriginal adolescents with scientists, activists and educators.
Geoff Green, a former teacher, has guided nearly 2,000 students – usually aged 14 to 18 – on the $9,500-$13,500 yearly trips to the Arctic and the Antarctic since 2000. Organizers look for a strong interest in the environment, a proven desire to make a difference and a demonstrated capacity for leadership.
“One of the kids from Iran who came, she went back to Iran and started a national youth radio program in Tehran,” Mr. Green said. “One kid from Calgary who got a scholarship to Princeton is taking a sabbatical because she invented this thing to make solar panels 40-per-cent more effective.”
What did you do when you were 14?
Malaika Vaz with Adélie penguins in the background, one of the highlights
of her Students on Ice Antarctic youth expedition
(Photo: Malaika Vaz)
Malaika Vaz is not your average BBM-addicted, Robert Pattinson-loving 14 year-old. The spunky Goan has just returned from an expedition to the Antarctic, which she describes as thrilling.
It’s not unusual for a teenager to harbour a dream so out-of-the-box, it might as well have been taken out of an adventure novel. But for it to come true is a rarity. Fourteen year-old Malaika Vaz from Goa belongs to that rare breed. She was the only Indian chosen to participate in the Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011, and returned home, full of stories, only last week.
Students on Ice is a Canadian organisation founded by Geoff Green that takes 75 international students, aged 14 to 18 years along with world-renowned scientists, explorers and Polar experts on expeditions to Antarctica. In the course of the programme, research is conducted and seminars are held on topics like the history, geography, flora and fauna of the Antarctic.
Vaz, a national-level windsurfer, applied to the programme online and got selected, she tells us over her father’s mobile phone from her Panjim residence. “The director of National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) encouraged me to apply for this programme online. I was excited when I got selected,” says Vaz, who is also a certified scuba diver.
Though her parents were initially apprehensive, on being informed that it is a guarded expedition with close to 30 chaperones, they were proud to let their daughter seize the opportunity, she recalls. However, she kept it a secret from her school friends till her return to Goa on January 14. Needless to say, there was palpable excitement and clamouring for stories thereafter.
The 15-day expedition, which started on December 26, had a no-technology rule. “They wanted us to connect with nature without any distractions. We couldn’t speak to our parents. For those 15 days, we put up messages on the studentsonice.com website, so people at home knew we were fine,” she quips.
But it wasn’t all easy. “The climatic conditions were a challenge. The temperature was -5 degrees Celsius. Thanks to multiple layers of warm clothing and proper footwear, particularly on the days when we trekked for 2-3kms and did wildlife observations, we managed to brave the cold,” she adds.
Little things, like keeping her feet from sinking into the snow while trekking, were important. But she had a comfortable time. “We were served Continental food during the expedition and that’s my favourite. Our daily schedules were flexible and depended on the weather. There were generally 2-3 shore landings everyday, from our mother ship M/V Ushaia, hikes, station visits and ship-based explorations and wildlife observations,” she says.
Her excitement is palpable when she says, “We spotted penguins, seals and Humpback whales. There were sprawling glaciers and towering mountains, of which I’ve taken hundreds of pictures. We also did a very exciting activity called ice-core drilling, where you dig a hole in the ground, take a sample of the ice and scientifically study its content. The results act like indicators of climatic conditions existing a few centuries ago.”
Vaz, who wants to produce wildlife documentaries when she grows up, said this experience gave her many friends from all over the world and she plans to stay in touch with them through the Internet. “No matter what part of the world you’re from, little things you do affect the Antarctic, and what affects the Antarctic today will affect the world tomorrow,” says the budding explorer.
“Global warming and melting glaciers will have damaging effects on the planet without exception to any individual or country,” she adds. Her proud father, Mac, now feels that that more children should be encouraged to participate in such expeditions. “Encouragement and support must come from home,” he says. For now Vaz, a student of class 9, is relaxing at home reading books and writing.
Souderton Area junior explores Antarctica
Souderton Area High School junior Michelle Bruce searches for words when asked to describe one of the sights she saw while on a trip to Antarctica with Students on Ice.
(Photo by Geoff Patton)
FRANCONIA — Michelle Bruce is in awe of the beauty of Antarctica.
The 16-year-old Souderton Area High School junior traveled to Antarctica with Students on Ice, a group that sponsors educational trips to the polar regions, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 10. It took four days to reach Antarctica by plane and ship, she said.
“I thought it would be a cool experience,” said Bruce, who wants to become a marine mammal trainer or an animal behaviorist someday. She hopes to graduate early next year so that she can do some internships in those fields before college.
“It was all pretty amazing,” she said. Bruce was most impressed with a huge piece of sea ice. She explained the group had never landed on sea ice before. “It was gi-normous, miles long.” They took a small, inflatable boat, a Zodiac, to the sea ice and used a ladder to climb up.
“We had a period of silence,” she said. “When it’s silent, it has it’s own sound. It was so pretty, just laying there in the silence.”
Icebergs would break off or calve from glaciers with a loud cracking noise, she said. The icebergs had striations of different blues and greens, depending on oxygen amounts stored in the ice or whether it had picked up algae, she explained.
Bruce saw seals, sea lions, whales and several species of penguins. Each variety of penguin had its own colony.
On board the ship, instructors gave workshops in art, music and nature, she said.
While it was cold in Antarctica, because it was summer, the sun shone late into the evening. Bruce dressed in layers to stay warm. And she wore sun screen and sun glasses for protection because the ozone layer there has disappeared.
“I was pretty cold sometimes,” she said. “I had hand warmers for my hands and feet.”
Previously, Bruce, a Telford resident, has traveled with People to People to Europe and Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. People to People was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to provide cultural experiences for youth to help promote peace.
On this trip, Bruce met students from Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia and Germany, as well as others from the U.S. Unfortunately, when Bruce disembarked at the Philadelphia International Airport, she discovered that she’d lost her camera with all her pictures and videos. She’s relying on some of those new friends to send her some photos of the trip.
Bruce would like to continue to travel and she recommends Antarctica as a destination.
“It’s so amazing,” she said.
Antarctic journey inspires teen
Australian student Drew Gibbons (left) with former British Antarctic Survey Base Commander and polar educator David Fletcher in the Beagle Channel, South America. Drew and David travelled to Antarctica with Students on Ice.
(Photo: Drew Gibbons)
DALBY student Drew Gibbons has just returned home after a life-changing 13-day voyage to Antarctica.
The 18-year-old came face to face with emperor penguins, bathed in a volcanic spa and watched as giant ice shards the size of houses fell from towering glaciers.
“Now I realise how connected we are with the Antarctic. Decisions we make can have an impact down there,” he said.
The budding environmental crusader kept a diary of his trip into the icy world.
Here are some highlights.
Day 1 – Elephant Island
LAND ahoy. There it was in the distance covered by a thick grey mist – our first sighting of Antarctica.
As we got closer to a cliff face, structures rising up from the waters became visible and we were completely surrounded in a horseshoe shape by the island.
We drove past a rookery of thousands of penguins and, up along the glacier, we got to see one calve up close.
Day 2 – Heroina Island
TODAY we went on another zodiac dinghy cruise where we drove up to icebergs and touched the ancient ice – a few of us even ate some of it.
We saw leopard seals hunting penguins and one of the zodiacs even saw a penguin being eaten.
After the cruise we made a landing on Heroina Island and walked through a rookery of half a million penguins.
The sound and smell of penguins is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
Their faeces are bright red from all the krill they eat and it isn’t the nicest smell.
Day 3 – Ice floe and Brown Bluff
WE planned to land at Snow Hill Island this morning but found the ice too thick and difficult to get the ship through.
Instead, we turned 180 degrees and headed towards a giant ice floe (a flat mass of ice floating at sea) we had seen earlier in the day.
To share an ice floe with 88 other people in complete silence and deep reflection is special and extremely rare.
An opportunity like that might not come around again.
After this we made our way through the Antarctic Sound towards Brown Bluff to make a landing on the actual continent.
We saw seals sun baking, penguins porpoising, killer whales breaching, skuas bathing and a lone emperor penguin. Truly amazing.
Day 4 – Ronge and Danco Islands
TODAY we had more zodiac cruises, watched glaciers calve, leopard seals sleep and even penguin highways!
Because these gentu penguins have built their rookeries and nests higher up the mountain, they’ve had to adapt to the snow.
So they walk the same paths over and over again until they make little organised roadways.
Day 5 – Koerner Icecap and Palmer Station
WE made our way to the Koerner Icecap, a site of an ongoing Students on Ice research project.
We learned how to build a proper snow hut that could save your life if you were ever stuck in a cold climate, then headed to Palmer Station, an American Base Station doing scientific research to help preserve the environment.
It was a little disappointing because after our tour around the base they served us hot chocolate in Styrofoam cups.
Oh well, at least they’re trying.
Day 6 – Whalers Bay on Deception Island
WHALERS Bay on Deception Island was a great place for a long hike, exploring the old whaling station and learning about its rich history and then going for our polar dip in the freezing Antarctic Ocean.
Thanks to the volcanic geothermal activity on the beach, we were able to dig a hot tub which helped to warm everyone up. It was a beautiful 47 degrees.
In the middle of our swim a blizzard hit us which added a nice touch to the scene.
We got back to the ship and warmed up with coffee and soup.
The weather prevented us from making any more landings so Deception Island was the last time I would set foot on Antarctica… for a while at least.
Drew back from icy adventure
Dalby student Drew Gibbons recently journeyed to Antarctica.
Drew took part in the Students on Ice project
and was sponsored by Brendan Ostwald of local business Ostwald Bros.
(Photo: Drew Gibbons)
Dalby student Drew Gibbons has just returned home from a life changing 13 day tour of the Antarctic.
The 18-year-old encountered colonies of half a million penguins, watched killer whales ride waves next to him as he sailed through Antarctic waters and bathed in a volcanic spa.
Drew’s tale is enough to inspire even the least adventurous person to make a similar voyage, however the young adventurer admitted he almost chose not to apply for the expedition.
“On my gap year exchange in Canada I was talking to my biology teacher and she told me about this company called Students on Ice, who take students interested in the environment to Antarctica and the Arctic,” Drew said.
“She suggested I apply but I wasn’t sure.”
“My older sister eventually convinced my to apply… it was a 20 page application on why I was interested in environmental issues.”
Drew said the experiences he had during the expedition would stay with him for the rest of his life.
“We were really lucky on the day we made it to the Antarctic Peninsula, because the sun was shining and they don’t have many sunny days down there,” Drew said.
“The wildlife just erupted… killer whales were riding along beside us
“I also saw half a million Adélie Penguins on Heroina Island… you just can’t describe the smell of half a million penguins.
“It was really unpleasant at first, but after a while you got used to it and it wasn’t so bad.”
Since returning to Australia, Drew has been sharing his story and encouraging as many people as possible to make a similar journey.
City student learns about fragile ecosystem
Saskatoon’s Alana Krug-MacLeod braved the treacherous waters of the Drake Passage on her way to Antarctica with Students on Ice Expeditions.
(Photo: Alana Krug-MacLeod)
A Saskatoon high school student braved the treacherous waters of the Drake Passage on her way to Antarctica, where she and dozens of other students learned about the frozen continent’s ecosystem and how climate change could threaten its future.
Once Alana Krug-MacLeod, 14, and her shipmates made it through the “Drake Shake” — the choppy waters created where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet — they had all those cute penguins to ease their sea sickness.
“I was in love with continent,” said Krug-MacLeod, a Grade 9 Aden Bowman Collegiate student. “I didn’t want to leave.”
Krug-MacLeod recently spent one week in Antarctica with 59 other students and 30 scientists and academics who made the long trek to learn about the often harsh environment of the continent and the creatures that populate it. In the fall, she submitted an application to the Canadian organization that runs the annual trips and on Dec. 27 she left Saskatoon for Argentina to begin her two-week trip.
“How many opportunities would I get to go there?” Krug-MacLeod said. “It was amazing. The penguins are so cute, but you’re overwhelmed by how loud they are. I’ll never forget the smell — sort of like the reptile room at a zoo but times 10.”
She got up close to leopard seals and three varieties of penguins, saw humpback whales and killer whales from the side of her ship and helped researchers take environmental samples from the ice.
Students on Ice, a national program that brings together students and scientists for expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic, organized the trip. Krug-MacLeod was able to go with the help of a grant from the Lea Cross Foundation.
The group studied on the ice in three-hour trips and in the ship, where researchers led workshops and lectures with students. A large part of the education focused on climate change and its possible effect on the continent’s ecosystem.
“Climate change is affecting the animals there because they rely on krill, and warmer water affects the ability of krill to breed,” Krug-MacLeod said. “Invasive species will come more south if the water is warmer.”
She added Antarctica isn’t as threatened as the Arctic because the continent is more isolated from the world. “But the peninsula is melting faster than before,” she said.
“I don’t think a lot of people know what’s going on there. I think people were more educated they’ll feel more connected and want to help.”
Karen Krug uneasily watched some videos of ships passing through the Drake Passage before her daughter left for the Antarctic.
“It seemed kind of dangerous — the unpredictably of it,” Krug said. “But we’re also very committed to the environment so we knew this would be a life-changing opportunity if she went.”
Krug said her daughter shares her parents’ interest in the environment and this trip combined the teenager’s passions.
“She’s constantly fascinated by anything to do with ecosystems and animals and travel,” Krug said.
Krug-MacLeod plans on sifting through her thousands of pictures and videos she took on the trip and creating a presentation for other students based on what she learned. She plans on pursuing a career in environmental sciences.
SK student's winter vacation was truly glacial
Erica Whaley, a 14-year-old freshman at South Kingstown High School,
traveled to the Antarctic Peninsula in January 2012
(Photo: Garry Donaldson, Students on Ice)
SOUTH KINGSTOWN — School vacation week plans for Erica Whaley, a 14-year-old freshman at South Kingstown High School, might never be the same after what she experienced in early January.
She applied for and won a scholarship to travel to Antarctica on an expedition with dozens of international students, a team of scientists and polar experts, returning from the icy continent with a renewed sense of environmental concern.
“It was awesome,” she said, telling of glaciers and icebergs while using words like carbon neutral in reliving the trip taken with “Students on Ice,” a Canadian-based organization that offers educational expeditions to the Antarctic and the Arctic.
By way of her freshman science teacher’s information, Whaley applied for and won an all-expense paid trip worth close to $15,000 and lasting 14 days.
South Kingstown teacher Brenda Dillmann shared the Students on Ice Web site information with her science classes in early September, telling them if they were selected, it would be an experience of a lifetime. Two Rhode Island students were chosen by way of the scholarship program, Erica, and Morgan Clark, a student from Middletown.
“I applied for it thinking I really wouldn’t get it,” Whaley said. When she told her mother, Kelly, about the Students on Ice trip, her mother thought she was suggesting a $15,000 figure skating experience.
According to an e-mail from Niki Trudeau, outreach and participant coordinator for the organization, since 2008, more than 10 students from Rhode Island have participated in the expeditions.
“The Students on Ice Foundation Selection Committee reviews the applications and selects the deserving youth and this year, over 20 applications were submitted from Rhode Island for the two scholarships,” Trudeau wrote.
The scholarships are provided by New York philanthropist Brian Snyder, she said, with the local outreach coming from U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s office. She said in reviewing the applications, the committee looked for students who “are passionate about learning and the environment, have demonstrated an enduring commitment to their community and community leadership and who, in recognizing the rarity of their opportunity to travel to Antarctica, are committed to sharing their experience with their schools and community members upon their return from the Great White Continent.”
Whaley said she is planning to present a PowerPoint presentation to local schoolchildren telling them about the experience and maturely reasoning, “You have to start at a young age because the kids are not going to care later on.’’
What she wants them to care about is global warming, which threatens the food supply of animal life there and has other environmental ramifications.
“I came back with a different attitude. I’m more aware if a light is left on in my house,” she said. “I walk into a store now and I’m like so consumed by the packaging. I look around and all I see is packaging, and my mind starts going off in the other direction and I’m, like, how much of this do they print?
“Before I went on this trip, I was aware of global warming and active in recycling, but now it’s like a whole other level because I can see what’s happening.”
Whaley experienced penguins up close (“They have an attitude”), an iceberg as tall as a skyscraper, and interacting with students from all over the world and meeting scientists at Palmer Station, one of three U.S. research stations in Antarctica.
There were a few tears at the airport, and terrible seasickness onboard the ship, especially going through Drake’s Passage, which she learned is “the roughest stretch of water in the world,” and though she had a flare-up of lymphocytic colitis, a condition she is treated for, “I learned I can push myself,” she said.
When not touring, the students stayed onboard the ship where the crew spoke mostly Spanish, which she said she speaks not at all. Because it is summer there, temperatures averaged about 10 or 20 degrees if not windy; in winter, the average temperature is minus 30.
“When overcast and windy, it was in the negatives with the wind chill,” Whaley said.
Apart from the many environmental lessons absorbed on the trip, Whaley said, “I learned a lot of life lessons – how to meet new people and to make connections that will last a while. Everyone is so different, and I learned to make connections with people I might not have a lot in common with.”
Her mother said that she’s not surprised her second-born child took on the challenge of traveling to this remote part of the world.
“She’s a born leader. She never ceases to amaze me,” she said, telling of her musical accomplishments, a whole other Erica story.
“Kids can change the world,” said Erica. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but we can do it.”
Burtonsville woman takes travel dreams off ice 63-year-old travels to Antarctica
Fredda Payne Freda Payne, 63, of Silver Spring sails on the MV USHUAIA past Whalers Bay, Deception Island in Antarctica where she traveled this winter.
(Photo: Fredda Payne)
This winter, Fredda Payne thought she was going to die.
Huddled together on a small boat with several of her students, she was making her way to an Antarctic island when an iceberg collapsed in front of them.
“I braced and I said, ‘Oh well, this is the end,’” Payne said. “… I was thinking I have to hurry up and get home. I am putting my life on the line out here.”
Payne and her group were spared because the falling ice chunks created only small waves. The 63-year-old Silver Spring resident returned from the two-week trip in mid-January.
This excursion was particularly meaningful for Payne because once she stepped foot on the only continent that has no year-round residents, she completed a lifelong goal of visiting all seven continents.
Payne, an English teacher at the University of the District of Columbia Community College, said Antarctica was unlike the other six continents.
“You can’t compare it,” she said. “… You don’t go around seeing other people. You don’t go around engaging in conversations. There is not different language you have to learn.”
Payne traveled to Antarctica as a part of People to People Student Ambassador Programs, which takes students from around the world on learning-based trips. She is an area director for the organization and the group traveled with another student group, Students on Ice, which offers education trips to Antarctica and the Arctic.
The group planned the trip for 10 months and traveled from Dec. 27 to Jan. 11. About 90 people flew from Miami, Fla., to Buenos Aires, Argentina. From Buenos Aires, they flew to the southern tip of Argentina where they boarded a boat to Antarctica, a journey that lasted two-and-a-half days over turbulent waters, Payne said.
“The weather was challenging to say the least,” Payne said.
The ship anchored near the continent and the group would take daily trips on small boats to land. They slept and ate on the larger ship.
On shore, the students and leaders studied seals and penguins, climbed glaciers and looked for wildlife.
“People didn’t have cell phones on or texting,” said Bruce Bentley, an area director with the program who worked with Payne on the trip. “So it was really good. You got to really soak up your own being and the continent you are at. It’s really peaceful, very, very quiet. There is nobody around.”
They had held workshops on the ship on topics such as global warming. Sometimes the group would meditate, Payne said.
“It was complete silence,” she said. “It gave you time to sit and think about your Antarctic experience. It was challenging and enlightening at the same time.”
Payne said it was a challenge to dress for the weather. She wore several layers, but would actually end up too hot during excursions.
“I was hot in the coldest place on Earth,” she said. “I had too much on, I had to keep peeling off.”
Whitesboro teen takes ‘amazing’ journey to Antarctica
WHITESBORO — It’s not every day one gets to stand on the bottom of the world.
During Christmas break, a Whitesboro teenager went on the trip of a lifetime – a chance to visit Antarctica.
“I just really wanted to go because it’s such a remote place,” said Laryssa Lyszczarz, 16. “It’s really beautiful. It’s just natural. It just hasn’t been affected by anything. It’s just nature.”
Through a group called People to People, Lyszczarz tapped into a program called Students on Ice, which brings scientists, educators and students to the frozen continent to get a greater appreciation for the planet.
Lyszczarz started out two days after Christmas, and in an Indiana Jones-type of journey, boarded a plane from Syracuse to Miami. From there, she joined other students to Buenos Aires and then another leg to Tierra del Fuego, an island province across the Straits of Magellan from mainland Argentina.
“From there we took a ship to Antarctica,” Lyszczarz said. “It looked kind of like a research ship. There were several decks for sightseeing.”
What she saw, she documented in a journal and shot almost 2,000 photos.
“There’s a lot of white,” she said. “If you look across the sky looking at the horizon you can’t tell where a chunk of land ends and the sky begins.”
The ship explored the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent that is dotted with research stations.
Each day, the students made two landings along the peninsula, which were accompanied with lessons aboard ship. The highlight was Jan. 3 when Lyszczarz chose to study a glacier.
“It was amazing,” she said. “We got to walk up a glacier and see how clean the water was. We got to lick it, and some of us rolled down it.”
Not all of it was ice or snow.
“When we were near Palmer Station, we did a landing there and it was just rocks, and there was some grass,” she said.
Since it was summer in the southern hemisphere, the temperatures were in the 40-degree range.
And because she was so far south, night time was more a matter of clocks than nature.
“The sun sets at a later time,” Lyszczarz said. “When we first got there it was like 10 o’clock. We all thought it was 6 p.m. … It was really hard adjusting to that.”
The trip was a life-changer.
“It seems weird to go to Antarctica, but it changes your whole perspective on life,” Lyszczarz said.
“After seeing that and having all the talk about global warming, I feel like I really want to do something about it. I would be devastated to see something as beautiful I saw disappear.”
Whitesboro student Laryssa Lyszczarz, 16, spent her Christmas break exploring Antarctica with Students on Ice Expeditions.
(Photo: Laryssa Lyszczarz)
Student on ice discovers incredible Antarctic world
Justine Wild (right), 14, in Antarctica with friends Erica Whaley
and Alexandra Leroux (middle). The girls travelled with 60 students
from around the world on the Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011.
(Photo: Justine Wild)
She’s almost speechless when asked about her recent expedition to the Antarctic, but when 14 year old Justine Wild reflects on her journey to the bottom of the Earth, the one word that she keeps repeating is “incredible.”
“It was way more than I thought it would be,” grins Wild.
Wild, along with 60 other students from around the world joined the Students on Ice Expedition to the Antarctic in December. Now in its 11th year, the organization provides students, educators and scientists inspiring educational opportunities at the end of the Earth.
Travelling three days to Ushuaia, Argentina, the group boarded an expedition ship to cross the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands. Long feared by mariners, the Drake has a reputation for rough crossings.
“It was pretty bad, everyone was sick,” remembers Wild. “But after we crossed the passage, according to the ship’s crew, we had the best weather in the whole year.”
That weather opened a window on a world very few have encountered and, in Wild’s experience, a world that was untouched.
“I remember we were on the deck one day and a plane flew overhead. Everyone just stopped to watch this plane and it really showed me, there’s just no one down there.”
Adding to that perception of isolation, Students on Ice participants are required to unplug from the outside world. Wild didn’t mind being disconnected.
“I didn’t feel alone, but I did feel isolated, but in a good way,” explains Wild. “We were so busy during the day; we really didn’t notice it all.”
While the Antarctic may be devoid of humans, the wildlife is abundant. Sailing the Antarctic Ocean the group saw plenty of shore birds, seals and, on one occasion, a pod of 16 killer whales swam alongside their research vessel. Out on a hike one afternoon Wild and her fellow students encountered a mountain of penguins.
“It was pretty cool. We didn’t realize it was penguins until someone gave us binoculars and when we looked, (the horizon) was full of penguins; it was incredible!”
It’s a bit early to know what she’ll do for her career, but after taking part in the Students on Ice expedition, one thing Wild knows for sure is that it will somehow involve a return visit to Antarctica.
“It really showed me what is out there, and I’d love to go back,” she says. “It’s just incredible.”
Making it to the South Pole