Isabel's Polar Journey
-Robert Swan, OBE
My name is Isabel Gray and I am an 11 year old living in Charleston, South Carolina. I recently received an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime invitation from polar explorer and environmental advocate Robert Swan, OBE, to join him and nearly 100 other team members on an expedition to Antarctica in March 2016. This is a huge deal for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I will be the youngest person ever included to join Mr. Swan out of nearly 1000 participants in the past thirteen years. In order to make this journey happen, I need to raise a total of $35,000 in the next couple of months - whew!
Why me? Please read on...
Last month I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Arctic explorer Robert Swan, OBE, here in Charleston. He spoke about being the very first person to walk to both the South and North Poles. He first decided he wanted to journey to the South Pole when he was 11 like me and he worked hard for over a decade to make it happen. He talked about the wildness of Antarctica and its need to be protected beyond the current treaty which spares the continent from oil exploration and drilling until 2041. In fact, he created a non-profit called 2041 with a mission "to build personal leadership skills among people who choose to embrace the challenge of sustaining all forms of life – in their families, communities, organizations and the planet." He showed us pictures of orcas, whales, seals, and penguins - I was hooked!
He inspired me to take action so I spoke with him after the presentation and told him that I wanted to go on his next expedition. Three days later I raised $190 playing my violin on the streets downtown with my chalkboard easel telling people that I was heading to Antarctica. Mr. Swan saw a photograph of what I was doing and knew that I was to be taken seriously. I received my formal invitation the next day.
"Isabel, wonderful to have met you in person with your Mum , great work with your fiddle ..I like your style.
We get over 6,000 applications for the expedition each year ..and your age is well below the 16/17 yrs limit we normally apply .
However I believe that you are a truly outstanding person and I would like you to join us .. your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get a message out to your age group about ENERGY and the 2041 Antarctic mission .
To do this I think you should make a really cool video Diary ?? Up for it ?
Let's get Cracking
So, now I am focusing all of my efforts and energy into making this happen. I will be joined by my father as I am far too young to face such challenges without a dedicated chaperone. To do this, I need to raise $35,000 to cover the expedition costs, travel expenses, insurance and logistical fees. We have just over two months to raise the funds needed to get her on the boat.
Once on the boat - which leaves from Ushuaia, Argentina - we will be engaged with teachers and experts on Antarctica, the environment, and sustainable energy solutions. My father, Jonathan Gray, is a professional musician. He will be bringing his upright bass and I will be bringing my fiddle and ukuele with the hope of composing a relevant expedition song co-written by all of our shipmates from around the world inspired by the landscape and alternative energy. Weather permitting, we then hope to actually record the song on Antarctica. That would be awesome! I am just as excited about meeting people from all over the world and sharing my music as I am about seeing all the amazing animals there.
When I get home, I plan to share my own presentation about my experiences while in Antarctica. I would really love to start up a youth empowered activist club for people like me in Charleston who want to get involved like me. I am so excited for this adventure as I really want to help save our earth before it is too late.
I am so thankful that you are interested and would really appreciate any contribution you could make to help this expedition happen.
Oceans of Gratitude,
*Also, read more about the first ever group of people from one city committed to this expedition and bringing its mission back to our coastal city
I assure you that no contraband nor further solicitations will be mailed to you. Honestly. It's just a wee note from my girl to you. We continue to be overwhelmed and humbled by the immense generosity of so many that lifted our daughter up and made this BIG dream a reality. Wow!
We are working on getting her blog up and running - we are worthless in the tech-y realm - and will let you know the address of said blog when it is ready for public consumption.
In the meantime, we are quite proud of the following feature that Charlie magazine just ran on Isabel as the youngest "Most Progressive" in Charleston.
Post & Courier:
abcnews4 evening news story :
Live5 news coverage during concert fundraiser
Hi! Hope Isabel learned some invaluable lessons and met a slew of inspiring individuals in the attendees and program facilitators. I was curious as to how you arrived to the $35k you needed to raise. Was that the total to cover both Isabel's and her father's expenses? For a two person room on the ship, at the lowest "tier" (think hotel star), it cost $10k (including expedition fees and room/board) per person. Of course there are the more luxurious rooms if you so choose or if that was the inventory available at the time of payment. In addition to those fees, there are equipment (cold weather gear) and international airfare tickets. Appreciate the insight! And welcome back - looking forward to reading some coverage of Isabel's key learnings and how her insighful mind contributed to the group discussions!