Penguins, Leadership and Thinking about the Planet
Antarctica Leadership Ventureについて書いた記事がWharton Journalに掲載されたので、ちょっと長いですが紹介します。


"Penguins, Leadership and Thinking about the Planet"
Akihisa Shiozaki, January 26, 2009


A herd of chinstrap penguins stood in shock on the dim midnight coast line of Antarctica, as they watched the shadows of Wharton students dance around in circles, pulling on each other's ears and chorusing "la-la-la" to celebrate the arrival of the new year. It was a very special moment, which at the same time, felt awkwardly surreal; we were on the coastlines of Antarctica. But we knew it was the one new year's eve, which we would always be bragging to our kids and grand kids on every new years eve to come.

Last December 28, 45 excited participants of the Antarctica Leadership Venture landed on King George Island of the Antarctica Peninsula. Antarctica is one of the few places on earth that is not governed by any nation but only by a treaty, and is now designated primarily to peaceful missions such as scientific research. As we gathered around a rocky foothill overlooking the beautiful glacier mountains, the venture started with an opening address from Rodrigo Jordan, one of the world's most renowned mountaineers and the president of the professional guides from Vertical S.A., "We govern Antarctica amongst ourselves protecting the extremely fragile ecosystem here. Let us remind ourselves to take responsibility for the planet."

This year's Antarctica Venture was unique from past years in its strong environmental focus. The ambitious initiative started when Professor Erik Orts, director of the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) program, offered in fall 2007 to join the Venture along with three of his hand-picked students from IGEL, Greg, Kate and Anarma (who became the first Mongolian woman to set foot on the island), to add a new eco-dimension to the renowned leadership venture. 142 metric tons of CO2 emissions were purchased through the Wharton Leadership Program Office to offset the carbon footprints arising from the participants' transportation to and from Antarctica. Students circled up on the pebble beaches neighboring a giant penguin colony, or in the shivering shadows of a collapsing glacier wall, to join a series of environmental discussions led by Professor Orts and other environmental specialists invited from nearby scientific camps.

While the week on the island was blessed with the best weather in many years, survival camping in wild Antarctica still posed its challenges for the urbanized Philly crowd. Clean water was a delicacy. Leveraging all their OPIM expertise, teams passionately debated on how best to boil 6 liters of drinking water with only two small gas stoves. Cooking in -0C weather without gloves also posed a significant challenge tempting teams to stick with the basic oatmeal/risotto combo. However, the situation helped reveal some hidden cooking talents among unexpected team members, resulting to legendary dishes like "Lee Kalowski's Antarctica Crab Cake" (WG'10). Perhaps not to the extent of what Earnest Shackleton and his crew had experienced during their Endurance voyage but the harsh physical conditions and enormous amount of routine work were clearly forcing teams to quickly bond and build trust among each other.

Trekking through the glaciers was one of the highlights of the venture, but definitely no picnic. On a descent down the slope of the glacier dome, Priya Shea (WG'10) suddenly got trapped in a deep layer of soft mud up to her knees. Walter Czarnecki (WG'10), and Edyta Szczepankowska (WG'10) immediately ran to her rescue but found themselves also caught deep in the mud trap. Realizing the gravity of the situation, others continued desperate attempts to reach the three, throwing ropes, building rock bridges and digging out mud with their pots and pans. Approximately 45 minutes later with the help of other teams, the three were finally rescued from the horrible quick sand situation. Brandi Herman (WG'10) says "the experience was tough, but really allowed us to see people's strengths."

The seven day expedition served as a great opportunity for us to learn about the planet and also about ourselves. What really made the venture so special was the great group of people we were fortunate to have on this expedition, not only from the MBA program but also from WEMBA and IGEL and of course the extraordinary guides from Vertical SA. Through the constructive feedback exchanged at the day-end debriefs, during the cozy dinners chats in the yellow triangular tents, or even just trekking in a single line tied together with a rope of trust, we were able to introspectively evaluate while also reflecting on each others' experience, values and actions. While Wharton enjoys the most professionally experienced and internationally diversified student body among our peer schools, we (I?) sometimes question ourselves how often we truly appreciate this greatest asset of our school. The Antarctica venture, I believe, proposed a powerful example of the enormous potentials Wharton and its students could achieve by cherishing further the personal qualities brought to the community by our fellow colleagues. Let us echo Rodrigo Jordan's principles on mountaineering, "It's not about where you go, but who you go with."


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