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You joined Rob for his first ever youth expedition 12 years ago. What inspired you to come back for a second time?
In the expedition 12 years ago, I was totally inspired by the beauty of Antarctica, by Robert Swan, and by the whole team. It was a truly amazing experience, because at that time we (in Vietnam) did not have internet, we did not have much information from the outside world. Everything I saw or heard in that trip really changed my thinking, my perspectives at the world, and took me to a great level of awareness about the environment that I had never had. The trip was so inspiring, that it made me quit my current job to switch to working for the development and environmental field.
For the last 12 years since I came back, I have been giving talks, and working on numerous environmental projects in the country, but somehow I still felt lonely. Being the first and only Vietnamese person to set foot in Antarctica is “cool”, but later I came to realize I needed more than that. I want more people to have the same experience as I did, so I can have more friends to work on the mission together with me. That’s why I decided to come back with a whole team, Team Vietnam, because I know that together, we can make a bigger impact.

What is your dream for Team Vietnam?
We have been talking about what we are going to do when we come back. Six of us have different jobs, live in different communities, so we will be able to deliver the message to totally different audiences. One part of the plan is to set up a website in Vietnamese, to inspire people to change the way they think, and take small changes in their daily habits, to become more environmentally friendly. The problem in Vietnam is not that we consume too much energy as the developed countries do, but with bad habits, we waste a lot. I really hope we can change that with our presentations, the website, and through working with the local media. That’s the least we can do.

Based on the intense experience that you have had, what is your message to young people in India?
I just would like to say this: you are going to be the leaders of your country. Don’t make the same mistakes as they did in the developed countries. Be aware, be motivated, and be ready for any opportunity that might drop on your head any time, such as an expedition to Antarctica like the one we are having. However, you don’t need to go to Antarctica to be able to save the world. Anyone can do something good for the environment. The warrior is already in you, so be proactive, start to think green, act green, and remember, Asia will be the solution to the world’s current problems. So inspire, and be inspired! The future of the world’s second biggest country is in your hands.

“It is unsafe and risky to have foreigners and bachelors living in our housing society….” – this, coming from “New” Mumbai. And we proclaim that India is a leading player in globalization, poised for super-powerdom! I agree, of course India is pioneering globalization, I’m a product of that trend. However, this is limited to just one of our country’s many faces. There are 2 India’s that exist, one that’s shutting itself in with borders and another that’s flying borderless.

I have never felt as angry about the attitude and beliefs that come from some parts of my country as I did a few days ago. I think that’s also because I didn’t really care much earlier. So here is the cause of my frustration – I have lived in a decent colony in New Mumbai for the last 3 months. Last weekend I finally got a Korean flat-mate. A few days later, I hear that my housing society has passed a resolution that they do not want bachelors or foreigners to live in their apartments anymore! The reason – it’s dangerous, risky and unsafe.

My thoughts:

Is this the Mumbai I think it is? Have I been living and believing in a society that doesn’t really exist? Or is this a reflection of the beautiful contradiction that is my country? Mumbai symbolizes to me, as it does to many other young people, hope, success and freedom. If there is one city in India which is liberal in its thoughts and actions, it is Mumbai. 3 years living in the city of dreams, and I hadn’t seen the shadows lurking beneath. Shadows of conservative beliefs, mistrust and selfishness.

“Atithi devo bhava”, a famous Indian saying – guests in our home and country are a form of God. Well, really? If in a city like Mumbai, we proclaim that it’s “dangerous” to have a 21 year old Korean girl living in an apartment and we decide to ask her to vacate, are we welcoming her to our country? “Foreigners” – in these times of globalization, I do not understand how people can use that as a dirty word! Families spend hours watching idiotic shows on the idiot box, and this is one of the results.

One of the best things about India is its “community living”. I missed it in the Netherlands! However, there is a limit to how much one can interfere and take decisions in another person’s life – a person who is not related, is not a friend, who just happens to live in the same apartment complex. What time I come home, whether I sleep at 10:00pm or 4:00am, which friends visit me or stay with me, is really no one else’s business as long as it is not harming or causing a problem to other residents.

And what of contracts and agreements? We signed an 11 month contract on the apartment. Completely disregarding this contract, the housing society is considering giving us a notice to vacate. Forget about the legal system and implications, but do we not respect an understanding or promise between human beings?

This small story echoes many other realities of our country – Gaps in our education system, equal opportunities for all, general awareness of our people, moral policing Vs personal freedom. Most of all it tells the story of the 2 India’s, and sadly one is leaving the other behind in a cloud of dust. It’s these nuances of life in Mumbai and in India, that make it a challenge and no matter what I love this city and my country. I will fight to bridge the gap between the 2 India’s and make this a better home for my people and the world.

November 24 2009

It was another day of “firsts” for the team. Instead of waking up to Jumper’s usual “Team Inspire, wakey wakey wakey”, we woke up to winds howling at speeds of 50 knots, 14 knots less than hurricane winds! After an eventful night camping on ice, we struggled to repack and load all our gear on the inflatable zodiacs to get back to the comfort of the Clipper Adventurer. A warm bed and breakfast has never been as special as it was this morning. A night on the Antarctic ice makes us realize the absolute beauty and power of nature, inspiring respect and humility.

In the late 1800’s Emile Danco, a member of the Belgica expedition, died of a heart condition induced by the severe conditions in the Antarctic, some miles south of where our ship is anchored. This afternoon, we landed at Danco Island, the zodiacs navigating through floating icebergs of deep blue and crystal white. Flashes of red, green, orange, blue and yellow dotted the snow as everyone brought out their national flags. It was a moment of history as we all got the opportunity to take photographs with Robert Swan holding up our flags, proud of representing our countries and the cause of a sustainable future. We then hiked up to the top of the island to take in the breathtaking 360 degree view.

Rob constantly tells us to focus on “doing”. Climate change is a fact; we need to focus on solutions and actions to using energy more wisely. Adam from NativeEnergy introduced us to carbon offsetting and opened up a whole new space on how we can reduce our carbon footprint by helping to build new renewable energy projects across the globe. All of us are working with Adam to calculate our individual carbon footprint and build an action plan to offset it once we get back home.

It’s been an intense day of exploring the innocent beauty of Antarctica and our ideas for a sustainable future. We pledge to lead convenient solutions to the inconvenient truth of climate change, starting now.

Inspired,
Deepti
64 S 62 W

Photographs courtesy Jack Robert Tissot http://jack2041.wordpress.com/

The Antarctic Treaty as a model of international cooperation

A Message to world leaders at Copenhagen from the 2041 International Antarctic Treaty Expedition

Ushuaia, Argentina – 1 December, 2009: 2041, led by polar explorer Robert Swan OBE, has just returned from a 15-day expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. Robert Swan OBE was joined by an international team of 47 participants from 16 nations to focus on leadership towards the strategic climate solutions needed to preserve our planet.[i]

In the prelude to the upcoming COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen, the expedition team implores our respective leaders to learn from the example of the Antarctic Treaty and explore how this policy mechanism can be used as an example of the type of international cooperation needed to combat our current environmental crisis.

Robert Swan OBE said: “Our leaders must use the Antarctic Treaty as an example of one of the great success stories of the past century: nations working together for the common goal of protecting our planet.”

The Antarctic Treaty, signed 50 years ago to the date in Washington DC, is a shining example of international cooperation to preserve a piece of our planet for science and peace. While the Antarctic region had previously been the site of much commercial and political conflict, the Treaty allowed nations to move past a seemingly irreconcilable disagreement in favor of a larger purpose and ultimate goal of preservation. Although the issues of sovereignty still remain, the Treaty allows nations to focus on the protection of Antarctica while simultaneously protecting their national interests by placing the issue of sovereignty in abeyance.

Expedition participant Steven Blumenfeld, currently studying at Yale University, spoke on how the Antarctic Treaty can be used as an example for nations meeting at the Copenhagen Conference to achieve common goals: “This Treaty was a brilliant piece of legislation that built a platform over the conflict from which nations could work past their differences and preserve Antarctica for peace and science. We need to take the lessons we’ve learned here in Antarctica and apply those globally to rise above our differences and create a new framework for addressing our climate issues.”

Robert Swan OBE will be bringing this message to global leaders at the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen later this month. His yacht, 2041, will be moored in Copenhagen.

About 2041: 2041’s mission is to build on Robert Swan’s lifelong commitments by inspiring and educating young people, teachers, and business leaders on the importance of preserving Antarctica. To do this, 2041 raises awareness on the issue of climate change and encourages people to adopt sustainable, renewable energy practices so that Antarctica will never be exploited for its resources.

For further information, contact Robert Swan OBE at: rswan@2041.com or Click here!

[i] Abdullah Alhamed, UAE; Darrin Allen, American; Steven Blumenfeld, American; Jasper Bothe, German; Craig Bowen, British; Deepti Chaada, Indian; Chandini Chhabra, Indian; Tom Cole, British; Adrian Cross, British; Ender Demilrap, Turkish; Arvind Ganti, Indian; Martin Haigh, British; Hong Hoang Minh, Vietnamese; Aaron Holdway, Canadian; Natalie Howard, Australian; Ayesha Huda, Indian; Eva Jacobus, American; Caroline Koiter, Dutch; James Koronka, British; Anantha Krishna, Indian; Tuan Le, Vietnam; John Luck, American; Esra Marvin, Finnish; Divya Nawale, Indian; Ivo Nederpelt, Dutch; Phong Anh Nguyen, Vietnamese, Thu Thuy Nguyen, Vietnamese; Ngan Nguyen, Vietnamese; Lan Anh Nguyen, Vietnamese; Kyle ODonoghue, South African; Zoe Osgood, British; Jo Parsons, New Zealand; Tony Piedad, British; Emily Pritchard, Australian; Jelle Rademaker, Dutch; Cheyenne Riester, American; Dave Ritchie, New Zealand; Jack Robert Tissot, Australian; Zach Rome, American; Tarja Ruoho, Finnish; Nigel Russell, Australian; Jena Saffrey, British; Joe Spedding, British; Yunwen Sun, China; Robert Swan, British; Ken Townsel, American; Jennifer Trujillo Obando, Colombian; Diana Vanderburg, American; Milena Vujicic, Serbian; Simone Wheeler, Australian; Lauren Wylie, American; Jerry Zhu, Chinese

I still cannot believe that 26 days from now I will embark on a journey to the southernmost, coldest, driest and windiest continent on planet Earth. I hope to be able to share the impact of this journey with people around the world through my story.

“As the last unspoilt wilderness on earth, Antarctica is currently protected by a treaty prohibiting drilling and mining until 2041. Decisions made by today’s youth will impact our entire planet’s ecosystem and the future of life on earth. ” Robert Swan OBE

For more information http://www.2041.com

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