Imagine travelling on a journey away from everything familiar to you, to spend three weeks on an intensive journey of self-discovery. On this journey you develop and hone your leadership skills with 100 other like-minded, purpose-driven women in STEMM to build a collaborative network in the most fragile and pristine environment imaginable: Antarctica.
This journey has enabled me to reflect on the values that drive every choice I make in my work and my home life. This program has made the values I live by more visible and has helped direct my focus to ensure they are the ones that serve me best in my aspirations.
The stories others have shared as part of the magic of the symposium at sea fill my heart with relief and joy as well as awe. Each woman stands both vulnerable and proud as she shares her knowledge, expertise and story. Each story demonstrates innate courage to step up and make a difference on this planet, working to provide a legacy for future generations.
The experience of meeting my inner child and identifying the stories I tell her fills me with great sadness and a slight astonishment. How do I manage to so lovingly nurture everyone else around me?
Antarctica was the classroom I needed to cement my values and understand why it is so important for women to take their place in protecting mother nature. As I watched the miracle of nature unfold before my eyes: penguins in all directions diligently and lovingly building their nests pebble by pebble and the adolescent chest-thumping elephant seals practising their prowess for their future legacy, I knew I too was ready to do what I believe will make the most difference. We need to have a diversity of voices making decisions that affect the future of the environment that sustains us all.
Originally from New Zealand, Australia’s Ingrid Albion is a passionate environmental educator and has played key roles in wildlife programs including Save the Tasmanian Devil, Fox-Free Tasmania and Whale Rescue Training. She is currently an Interpretation and Education Officer for Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.
Sharing a voyage to Antarctica with this group of women has offered many lessons for each of us. Before the voyage, I suffered from imposter syndrome – feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, questioning myself: “do I belong here?”.
Being surrounded by so many accomplished women from various backgrounds has left me in awe at the level of achievement, intellect and strength amongst this group. As we started to get to know one another, it became clear to me that despite our many differences, we are all the same.
Many of us suffer those same thoughts and feelings of self-doubt. We all left behind jobs, friends, families, and pets to come here to learn and collaborate. We joined Homeward Bound because we have a passion for the environment. We all have a burning desire to make a difference, and to leave the planet a better place for future generations. We are leaving here inspired, having gained knowledge about how to be stronger leaders.
Personally, experiencing Homeward Bound with Antarctica as the backdrop has helped teach me humility – that we are stronger as a collective; vulnerability – that meaningful change will only happen as we find the courage to pursue our deepest desires; and purpose – discovering those desires and what motivates me. I have learned new strategies and tools, and am leaving Antarctica better prepared to stand up and take my place as woman in STEMM, a leader in my community, and an advocate for our planet.
HB4 participant Amanda Hensley (USA) is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and owner of the Colorado Animal Rehab, a specialty practice focused on rehabilitation and pain management for companion animals.