I expected to get a lot from Orr Fellowship from day one, but one thing I did not anticipate was getting an orange M&M as part of an ice-breaker at summer retreat would inspire a trip to the end of the Earth.
I have been an avid traveler since I was 17. I fully believe I am the luckiest girl in the world and having been to five continents before I moved to Indianapolis at 22 is just one example of that. The dream of visiting all seven had been a goal of mine since third grade, so when my orange M&M at summer retreat indicated that I had to tell the group where I would travel if I could go anywhere in the world at that moment, I said “Antarctica” immediately. It is the hardest continent to travel to and the most cost prohibitive so if I could be there with a snap my fingers, that would be fantastic! The seed was planted at that moment. I did not actually know what it took to get to Antarctica… research would start the moment I got home.
One lonely planet guide and many travel blogs later, I realized I could get to Antarctica, but making that trip without a purpose seemed like a missed opportunity. More research led me to ted talk by Robert Swan that had me thinking about how land-locked Indiana created a buffer to the visual impacts of climate change. In my ambition to lead a career surrounding community development, environmental impact was a large piece to the puzzle I was missing. I dove deeper into learning about Mr. Swan’s organization, 2041, and eight months and some crafty sponsorship negotiations later, I found myself as one of five Americans on a boat with 92 of the most impressive people I have ever met.
Kayaking with penguins swimming underneath my kayak, diving into the below-freezing ocean, and building a snow fort with seals and whales in the background, were some of the coolest thing I have ever done. However, though the continent itself exceed my high expectations, it was the people that made that trip so memorable. Every one of them was shaping the world in ways that had me writing in my journal by day two that “their life stories make me feel as if I am not dreaming big enough. These are my kind of people.” I completely shifted the way I view environmentalism, realizing that it is a humanitarian issue as much as an animal rights movement or forest concern. The stories and lessons learned I have are endless so for more information, see the blog written for my equipment sponsor, NYA-EVO, or message me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was thanks to Orr Fellowship that I had the support needed, in the forms of friendships, educational stipends, logistical planning, and mentorship, to get me there! I cannot thank the community enough for their support in making this dream into a reality. Already my head is spinning with new adventures, and this time, Fellows are coming with me! Keep posted to see how three of us are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and funding the whole trip by recycling aluminum cans….
And in case you were wondering, yes, it was very cold.
Me and my main Scheming Partner, Shevy, in front of our first iceberg:
Walking in a penguin colony:
Me and Jumper, the safety manager of the expedition and the best storyteller I have ever met:
Penguins have no land predators and therefore are not threatened by humans or their property:
I will never build a better snow fort:
Waters of less than 28 degrees fahrenheit caused me to start going into shock immediately:
They waited until afterwards to inform us that this volcano is set to erupt in the next 2-3 years:
The coolest thing I have ever done: