It’s just one week until the ship leaves Ushuaia, Argentina, for Antarctica, carrying the 78 women in science who form the second Homeward Bound cohort. Before, during and after the voyage, we’ll bring you the stories of more than 20 of those women, in their words and pictures: our #TeamHB2018 correspondents. You’ll hear from them about how the the past 12 months of working together has influenced them. You’ll get a visceral sense of life on the ship as we post stories crafted from some of the most remote and fragile parts of the planet, by some of the most talented women scientists on the planet. And you’ll hear what happens to them when they return.
As we kick off our countdown, our first correspondent, marine ecologist Adriana Humanes shares what the past 12 months have meant to her, and what she hopes for as she flies south from her home country, Venezuela, to finally meet the women she has learned, laughed and cried with over the past year.
When I first heard about Homeward Bound I was convinced it was an initiative I wanted to join. Born in Venezuela, the nation with the biggest oil reserve on the planet, and the Latin American country with the greatest greenhouse emissions per capita, I have witnessed the effects of human activities on ecosystems on a daily basis. I am aware of the need to change the way we use natural resources, and the need to empower researchers with tools to influence decision-making and actions. Homeward Bound is an initiative that I believe can make this change. After being selected I committed to get the most out of the experience by increasing my visibility, developing my communication skills and expanding my network. I never imagined what I was really going to get from my journey was beyond my expectations and the goals I set.
The impact that the program had on my visibility was completely unexpected. 30 interviews in 6 weeks on different media: radio, TV, newspapers, blogs – both national and international, which definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I learned how to explain the objectives of my research and the importance of reducing our carbon footprint without using scientific jargon. I developed my skills to answer crucial and provocative questions with conviction. The general public in Venezuela responded positively and wanted to know more, even when my country was going through the worst humanitarian and economic crisis we have ever seen. But what surprised me the most was the fact that the other Latin American participants were getting similar responses in their home countries. This made me reflect about the enormous need in the region for empowering women conducting research related with climate change.
Latin America holds a wide variety of natural resources and the impacts of human activities have accelerated at alarming rates. The region holds the valuable resource of talented women who want to change the way we relate with our environment, and they just needs the support and opportunity to build their self-confidence and develop their leadership skills to produce big changes.
I have learned that we as humans have no idea of the power that a group of women can hold and how many amazing things they can accomplish together. Being part of a group that had my back from the beginning changed the way I relate with people and improved my self-confidence. Before this experience stronger together was a motto with not much significance for me, but it became one of my core principles after the weekly study meetings I held with other amazing Homeward Bound participants during the last year. I believe that Now we’ve reached the end of the training, the next step will be to understand the responsibility we have as role models in our society, and the benefits we can bring to our countries. My training so far has taught me that we first need to believe in ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin before expecting others to trust us.
This is just the beginning of the journey and it’s going to be amazing!
To read more about Adriana and our other #TeamHB2018 voyagers, visit here.
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