NOW ChangeMaker Diaries

ANTARCTICA
Supporting Mission 2041

I, Avani Awasthee from Pune, India had been selected for the "INTERNATIONAL ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 2016", which was a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. This program is called the "Leadership on the Edge", which has made me the ‘Youngest Indian to have been to the Antarctic, twice’.

My first time on the International Antarctic Expedition was in 2016, which hosted Sir Robert Swan’s Leadership on the Edge program, was indeed an exhilarating and a life-changing experience for all of the 143 participants from 30 different nations across the globe.

ANTARCTIC - The last great wilderness on Earth is MELTING!

We along with the 2041 Climate Force Team witnessed, debated, discussed and received firsthand information of the effects of CLIMATE CHANGE which was more than evident on this continent. We had the opportunity to see the effects of temperature rise on this icy and remote continent.

My second time on the expedition was as a ‘mentor’ in 2018. Our final goal on this expedition was to come up with ways to curb climate and ‘remove’ 326 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in 7 years. Ever since, I have been working with students / teachers and corporates from across the globe. I have given a TEDx Talk and now work with NGOs and Rotary clubs all over. 

Spending over two weeks on a continent so far away was an instant realization as to what it is that we’d be affecting by the ill habits we perform within our own nations. It was a wake up call about how serious this situation was and that we had to act upon this more than required. A place so pristine, so beautiful, untouched is now facing a threat all because of the over usage of the natural resources.

All in all, it was an experience in itself. Far away from civilization and family with new people on an unknown land but the kind of knowledge and experience we gained was worth it. We were surrounded by penguins, whales, seals, seagulls and all kinds of wildlife around us. At home, we have our evening tea out in our garden with birds chirping, and here we would sit on the deck sipping hot tea but instead surrounded by whales and seagulls. That was my moment; that was my defining moment from the entire expedition!

“It is us who need the environment, not the environment that needs us”- this is the statement I strongly believed in for a long time now, but the visit to the icy continent has just made this belief even stronger for me. All of us need to be considerate and sensitive towards the environment; it could be in the smallest way by switching off the light bulbs when unnecessary or by living on renewable energy through solar panels. But eventually, the choice is OURS!

Antarctic

About the Traveller

Avani Awasthee

Avani Awasthee Mentor

Avani Awasthee is the Youngest Indian to have been to Antarctica on the ‘International Antarctic Expedition’ twice, first at the age of 18 and then at 21 as a mentor. She was a student ambassador for TETRA TAK for the year 2012 after which she started an initiative called the ‘Recycle Army’ at the age of 14. She spoke at TEDx Manipal University, her talk was called “Why the Earth needs us more than ever”. In 2019, she was awarded the Karmaveer Chakra by the government of India in association with the United Nations. She is Miss Tourism Metropolitan India 2019 and has modeled for several fashion brands and magazines and featured in a MG Hector digital advertisement. She currently works with students / teachers and corporates from across the globe about climate change and how to curb it.

Living Positively

LAUGH

I particularly remember a chase / fight between two penguins. We were at the ‘Danco Islands’ and were ecstatic to see these little cute creatures run around helter skelter. There was this one pair that kept pecking at each other and finally started running around and one chased the other like Tom and Jerry. That made me laugh till the end of the day.

LEARN

We learnt about the continent and its wildlife, and I learnt the importance of TEAM WORK and that one cannot do anything singlehandedly. We were 143 representatives from 30 nations. None of us knew one another and we were there with one motive - ‘SAVE THE ANTARCTIC’ from its rapid melting - and this brought all of us together. By the end of the expedition we were one big family and when I started to believe “Where we come from should not decide where you get”.

LOOK

WHALES! I could look at them for hours. There were times when we could spot whales all day. They’d be in the same vicinity for the longest time and that was my favorite time, to spot those whales!

LOVE

POLAR PLUNGE! I used to be afraid of the water and even contemplated skipping the plunge altogether. But I didn’t want to go back and a few years later regret not taking that chance. So I did it and that by far as to be the best decision of my life. I faced my fears head on!

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