A year has passed since we started our virtual journey from the UK to Antarctica on the 22nd April 2021 (Earth Day) and it feels like time has just rushed by. We have been busy walking, running, cycling and swimming – and the journey has been successful: we have reached (and even exceeded!) our target of 16,000km, the distance between Aberdeenshire in the UK, where our northernmost team members live, and Antarctica.
We also managed to climb to quite unexpected heights: having originally set out to reach the equivalent of the highest mountain in Antarctica – Mount Vinson with its peak at 4,892m – our team ended up climbing a total of 141,383m over a year, which, if all added, would have gotten us all the way to space (looking at the Karman line at 100km above ground)!
And yet, our journey has not only been a physical one, as we also developed our professional skills, learned more about our leadership capacities and got to know ourselves better through our participation in the Homeward Bound initiative. The formal components of the programme are coming to an end this month – we actually have our graduation session in a few days – and this means that we will no longer have our regular two-weekly Zoom meetings with our entire cohort and facilitators. But not to fret: there are a lot of ideas being explored at the moment with our fellows HB6ers on how we can keep going on our development journey and start to apply our learning more practically with joint projects and continued ways for engaging with each other and wider communities. I’m personally very excited about these prospects and will be looking forward to highlighting some of our upcoming activities here on this blog!
‘But what about the real Antarctica journey?’ you may be thinking now. A key component of the Homeward Bound programme has always been for participants to travel on a three-week boat voyage to Antarctica which enables cohort members to meet each other in person, learn from each other and further deepen their insights around leadership and sustainability. For us, this trip was originally planned in March 2022 but due to the pandemic it had to be postponed and we are now tentatively aiming for a departure sometime between November 2023 and March 2024. Safety and equity of opportunity were two key factors that primarily played into this decision: only very few ships are currently sailing around Antarctica and only with very stringent health and quarantine precautions as well as a high rate of aborting due to Covid cases on board. In addition, our cohort members are coming from all over the world, so health measures relating to the pandemic also vary quite extensively and not everyone, for example, may have had the same access to vaccinations as we have had in the UK – this makes travel across the globe still quite challenging.
Our last stretch of the virtual Antarctica journey has thus been an excellent opportunity to keep us motivated for now and we look forward to what the next months will bring.
Below we have shared some impressions of the lovely places our team members have enjoyed to collect their km’s:
Harriet’s running adventures in England:
Wendy’s spring impressions from Cumnock and Turnberry:
Stephanie’s trip to Mexico:
Sharon’s views from the Scottish Highlands:
Clare’s ventures in the Highlands and around Balmoral:
Maria’s activities around Glencoe and Fort William: