Tuesday, 4 December 2012

World Irish Article

'It really is a once in a lifetime experience': Donegal woman heads on Antarctic expedition

Story by aidankelly
Posted 6 days ago

Image: polareimear blog / Copyright: Karl Martini

A Donegal woman will be gearing up for the trip of a lifetime this Christmas, as she prepares to head to Antarctica on a climate change fact-finding mission.

Eimear Carlin has been selected as Ireland's only representative for the prestigious project, which has been organised as part of the '2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador Programme'.

In early February, she will take part in an expedition to the continent to explore its landscape and wildlife, as well as learning how to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The expedition will be led by Robert Swan – a British explorer who, in 1989, became the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. He is aiming to inspire the next generation of leaders to continue his work on sustainability.

Eimear told WorldIrish that she is looking forward to the challenge:

I can't wait! I haven't really had time to take it all in that it's actually happening because I've just been living and breathing fundraising for the last ten weeks – that in itself has been an amazing learning curve.

Just to have the opportunity to go down there – I never, ever in my wildest dreams though that a) I'd be chosen for the project and b) it would actually become a reality. It really is a once in a lifetime experience.

Image: polareimear blog

Climate change awareness and sustainability are issues that are close to Eimear's heart – while living and working in the Canadian Arctic eight years ago, she was struck by the physical beauty of the region and the need to protect its delicate ecosystem:

I saw how the Inuit cultures up there could marry modern technology, viable businesses and climate awareness at the same time. And from there I worked in Canadian forestry for four years, replanting clear cuts.

Again it's questionable with that kind of work whether you are making a positive change. In my opinion you are, because you're replanting pre-cut land, so I think whenever I applied [for the programme], I gave quite a realistic view of what we can do for climate change. 
People need to make a living, but it can be done in a more sustainable way.

Aside from her fundraising activities, she has spent the past number of weeks preparing herself physically and mentally for the expedition in February:

I am a member of the Dublin Roller Girls roller derby team so I have been personal fundraising off skating the equivalent of the Drake Passage, which is 800kms, so I've skated about 150kms of that so far.

Training for an Antarctic trip, a lot of it is common sense to be quite honest. I think it's just like any extreme environment.

If you're out hill walking in Ireland, and/or if you're off on an expedition, it really is just awareness of people around you and becoming part of a team.

Eimear has pledged to raise over €19,000 to take part in the expedition. While some of that money has come from sponsors like the French Embassy in Ireland (she works for the Alliance Française in Dublin), much of it has had to be raised personally.

Image: 2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador Programme

She's turned to online crowd funding and organising events to get her up to her lofty target – once she returns from the Antarctic she will be a fully-fledged Youth Ambassador for Climate Change.
For here, she hopes to travel around the country to businesses and schools, educating and informing people on the importance of climate change and sustainability.

I actually did a talk with Foróige in Letterkenny at the weekend through the NIfty Programme and they're more than happy to have me come up around Donegal and Sligo to do presentations in youth groups there.

That's all phase two – so I'm more than open to getting requests from schools to do talks at this point. It's gonna be super!

Eimear will be holding a stand-up comedy fundraising night on Friday, 30 November in the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar, Dublin. For more information,
check out their website.
She has also set up a crowd funding account here.

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