As #TeamHB3 make their way home from Antarctica after a life-changing experience, we share more photos and reflections from aboard the #MVUshuaia. Stay tuned for more updates as the women return to their homes, families and lives, and apply their leadership lessons.

“Do you feel totally changed?” A friend asked me after my return home from our Homeward Bound journey to Antarctica.

I’ve just participated in a year-long transformational leadership program. If I haven’t ‘transformed’, does that mean it’s all been a waste of time and money?

I think back to glassy, ice-studded waters of the bay at Port Lockroy, one of our last landing sites. I remember clouds, in shades of silver and grey, hugging the mountains that rose up behind a Gentoo penguin colony. Those snow-capped mountains made me feel as though I had travelled back in time to the peak of the last ice age 20,000 years ago.

Earth’s ongoing transformation has taken it from hot-house to ice-house, and now, back to hot-house. As a professor of climate science, I had come to a place where I felt hopeless in the face of anthropogenic climate change. I joined Homeward Bound because I needed inspiration, at a time when I feel like we need to light the fire under people to find ways to deal with climate change.

At Port Lockroy, in the company of penguins beneath mist-enshrouded mountains, I could feel that energy of community and excitement in our shared experiences, the transformational insights bubbling up in discussions. I felt excited for everyone expressing those insights – but I couldn’t yet feel it myself. What is transformation supposed to feel like?

Transformation sounds so grand and all-encompassing, but there can be significant shifts that are much subtler. I think personal transformation is something that begins quietly, beneath the surface, not unlike the firsts shifts in global climate that are rarely distinguishable from year-to-year variability.

At Port Lockroy I felt amazement for being in such a wild, pristine place in the company of such inspirational women. I was overwhelmed – but I did not feel transformed. It wasn’t until I got home that I knew something has shifted. I have a new sense of curiosity about myself and the world that, pre-voyage, seemed weighted underneath layers of to-do lists and general angst about the state of the Earth.

The time we had in Antarctica to think about our lives, to get to know the lives of so many other women, somehow this brought be back to myself. I felt hopeful, for the first time in a long time, that we can set into motion the changes we need to make on this Earth as I undergoes its own rapid transformation.

Earth’s transformation is much more rapid than anything we see in the geologic record. As a species, we have the intelligence and the capacity to adapt to these changes and evolve our world into a place that is better for everyone. Doing so requires a deep dive as a global culture into understanding who we really are as a species, to set in motion a transformation that will pull us through this crisis. That global transformation begins inside each of us.

Cindy Shellito
Twitter: @cshells88

Images: All from the Gentoo penguin colony at Port Lockroy.