Rob was recently invited to speak at the annual Partnership for Change Conference in Oslo, Norway. Founded in 2012, PFC is a Norwegian-based NGO aiming to contribute to socially, environmentally and financially sustainable local communities throughout the world. This year’s conference theme was “Turning The Tide – Together For A Sustainable Future”. During his keynote, Rob specifically highlighted the importance of working together to build on a single movement. Rob also illustrated how teamwork must be encouraged to accomplish a greater purpose, as it strengthens the bond amongst the group and allows for goals to be met at a faster pace. Also active at the PFC Conference was IAE team leader Kyle O’Donoghue and IAE 2015 Alumni Marie Louise Sunde - a mini 2041 reunion!
A milestone birthday is a very special occasion and we’re delighted to share that on 24 October 2015, Rob’s Mum, Margaret Swan, will celebrate her 100th birthday! We’re de-lighted to celebrate 100 years of memories and impact and we wish Margaret the best. Looking back 100 years at a glance is fascinating. Globally, we’ve made tremendous progress in environmental research, medical advancements and alternative energy solutions. Did you know that 100 years ago, the Eiffel Tower was considered the tallest structure in the world, with a height of 324 meters? In addition, there were only about 1 billion people on earth (today, we have more than 7 billion!). Also around that same time period, The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration was taking place, as Roald Amundsen beat Robert Falcon Scott in the race to the South Pole, arriving on December 14, 1911. Let’s continue to build on this progress and ensure Antarctica remains Earth’s last great wilderness.
Robert has just returned from Dubai, whereupon he reconnected with the GEMS Modern Academy. Just in time for World Environment Day, the Buccaneers reaffirmed their commitment to Antarctica following the recent 2014 International Antarctic Expedition. Robert discussed the Buccaneers progress with launching ‘PAPER’: Project to Actively Preserve Environmental Resources. The Buccaneers outlined a few components to their long-term action plan:
Working off the ‘think global, act local’ platform, the GEMS are well on the way with a strategy devoted to conserving the earth’s natural resources at a local level. Well done, Buccaneers!
Advertisers often use the expression, “it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” to describe everything from investment products to all-expense-included vacations. As a result this phrase has lost much of its impact. When I was selected to participate in the ICEWALK in1989, my father accurately described it as, “the opportunity of several lifetimes.” Those who find themselves in the early stages of life’s journey may not fully recognize just how special it is to participate in something of this nature. ICEWALK, and the expeditions that followed, combined noble purposes with high adventure, and introduced the participant to like-minded individuals from many different cultures in faraway lands. These voyages are, in many ways, modern day versions of the quests undertaken by the knights of the middle ages. And those who are lucky enough to be involved are forever changed by the experience.
After ICEWALK my career took me to the law where I have served as a prosecutor at every level of the United States government. Like many of my colleagues, I have had the opportunity to investigate crime scenes, to conduct surveillance on targets, to run stables of informants, to arrest criminal kingpins, to present cases to juries and to argue in the Supreme Court, but throughout this time, the question that everyone asks is: “Tell me about the expedition…” It was my participation in this endeavor that caught my first employer’s attention – I am told that the day before I started he said to my soon-to-be-roommates, “Clean this place up, the new guy’s been to the goddamn North Pole!” – and it has been the first question asked on every interview since that time.
But this usefulness of the expedition in seeking employment only addresses what ICEWALK has done for me. It does not speak to that far more important issue: What ICEWALK has done to me. I would say that the time I spent on the ice with friends from many nations changed me, but as a young person, my world view was still being formed at that time, so it might be more accurate to say that it helped to shape me. It affected my life in many ways: Going into public service; helping with environmental causes; trying to preserve the planet for my daughter. It has instilled in me a deep appreciation of the stark beauty of the Arctic and the Antarctic and the lessons these last, great wildernesses can impart to us. And it has taught me that one man can make a difference, and that the effect of a team of dedicated individuals truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
From the first time I met Robert Swan on the long flight back from the Pole in 1989 to this very moment I have been proud to call him my captain, my mentor and my friend, and I will be eternally grateful for the effect he had on a young, impressionable adventurer nearly a quarter century ago…
Peter Hobart, ICEWALK ALUMNI MEMBER
“As of 1:15am GMT, Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere have officially completed their world-record breaking return journey to the South Pole and back following in the footsteps of Captain Scott. This is the first time Scott’s route has ever been completed and marks the end of the longest polar journey on foot in history.”
As a patron for this journey, I was able to see two men set goals, handle hardship and thankfully succeed in what they set out to do. So often we talk about setting goals and completing them, but rarely does one think about the actual process in the middle that can lead to failure. Ben and Tarka were beat and battered on this journey. As we watched from the comforts of warm hotel rooms or our homes, we questioned how they would get past some pretty sticky situations that were handed to them… but they did it and they did it well.
Throughout all of this, let us not forget the purpose of this expedition. It wasn’t called The Scott Expedition to memorialize a great explorer who originally walked that same route, only not to finish. Today, Ben and Tarka took on a great act to commemorate these who journeyed before them, and to remember them with every footstep past where they met their ill fate in 1912.
Congrats to all who made this historic and record-breaking journey a success!
This week is Polar Week at the website Atlas Obscura. They will be celebrating all things Arctic and Antarctic, from the North to South Pole, covering topics on explorers, geography and interesting facts about these unique and desolate destinations. On twitter, use the hashtag #polarweek and include us at @2041robertswan.