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12 Days till Christmas – Day 9. Humility

12 days till Christmas - reflections from a leadership journey for Women and non-binary in STEM focusing on sustainability, climate change and global challenges- culminating in an expedition and leadership journey to Antarctica. 

The Continent. L-R: chinstrap penguin, view of Orne Bay and the Antarctic Peninsula from the ship, nesting chin strap on the cliff above Orne Bay. November 23rd 2023.

Today there is great excitement Plan A is a landing on the continent. We have until this point been landing on the archipelago of islands that run along the Antarctic Peninsula but have not landed on the Peninsula itself. This might sound like no big deal but it’s early in the season and the combination of rocky landings covered in snow and ice make things tricky. The landing is on, despite slightly dodgy weather, and there is a planned walk up a hill to a Chinstrap Penguin colony. Sometimes the initial Plan A does come off.


It’s a steep slippy slope and we take care ascending the snow and ice. Up we go through a gap in the rock and onto a flattish ridge from which you look down onto the strait below. The ship is tiny, the Ocean is huge and from this small vantage point you suddenly get an appreciation for the scale of the whole place. The vastness of continent to the South. Humility sweeps over me.

Antarctic views and wildlife. Top L-R: view from the city slope above Orne Bay, November 23rd 2023, Humpback Whale tail, November 24th 2023, icebergs, November 23rd 2023. Bottom L-R: Petrel near the Falklands, November 13th 2023, view down onto the ship from above Orne Bay, November 23rd 2023, Humpback Whale, November 24th 2023.


That view has a lasting impression on me, an imprint of how small we are in this very large World. The cold, harsh beauty of the place. The ecosystems and Ocean currents that make this a rich feeding ground for Cetaceans. The majestic soaring Albatross and Petrel. The ever-lurking Skua ready to take an unguarded egg or penguin chick. The roars snorts and farts of the weaning elephant seals on the island beaches. I try to adsorb the feeling as the cool wind wicks the heat from my body and my blood forgoes my fingers. Will I feel such humble humility back in the raging pace of the World I’ve left behind? Will I remember this feeling stood at the bottom of the World on a small white ridge looking out onto the vastness and space?





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