By KEVIN TAN
Robert Swan holds the world record as the first person in history to have walked to the North and South Poles, and three lucky Malaysians are set to join him on one of his upcoming adventures.
Come next year, Helena Erin, Paul Kho and Faisal Ariff will trek the icy wilderness of Antarctica with Swan, come face-to-face with the wildlife roaming the terrains and learn what they can do to save the Earth’s southern-most continent.
The trio, winners of the PRU4Antarctica contest organised by Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad, will embark on the ultimate expedition – the International Antarctic Expedition 2014 – in March.
Not only will they get to explore Antarctica with Swan, one of the world’s leading environmentalist, they will also hopefully learn lessons on leadership, teamwork and personal development alongside some of the world’s most dynamic individuals.
And they would have to do it all in the freezing climate where temperature could go down to, as Swan boldly testified, -72°C.
“I will be seeing things that not many people have seen before. I enjoy going to places people don’t usually get to see, and I don’t think any of us would be able to go for a trip like this on our own; it’s very dangerous and we have to be prepared. This trip to Antarctica is priceless,” said 31-year-old Faisal, a fund manager.
For professional photographer, dive master and mountaineer Kho, 22, who has travelled to many countries, Antarctica will be his greatest adventure so far.
Swan has led 15 annual expeditions to the North and South Poles – with about 70 people on each trip. Occasionally, two expeditions are run in a year.
“Over the last 10 years for our expeditions, we have focused on selecting teams of young people, mixed with business people,” said Swan.
Faisal, who recently returned from a mission trip to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Antarctica trip, believes that this trip will help him see how climate change and global warming has affected the environment.
“I think it’s really different when you see the effects right before your eyes; what the consequences (caused by humans) have done to the environment. And when you see the amount of damage it can cause, it really makes an impact,” he said.
“There many solutions (to solve global warming) out there which we (Malaysians) can adopt. Many countries have come up with their own solutions, so it’s about finding our best way to save the environment,” said Kho.
For medical bio-science student Erin, the key takeaway from the expedition would be the experience as well as knowledge about the affects of climate change and ecosystem – which she wants to share with other Malaysians.
“I believe quite a lot of young people are concerned about global environment. However, the perception among the older generation is that younger generation doesn’t pay attention or care about the environment. But that is not true. Young people are passionate about recycling and lessening carbon footprint as well,” said Erin, 20.
The explorers will definitely gain some new insight on not just how to save Antarctica but also the whole world and Swan advises them put the knowledge to good use upon their return.
“Bring back whatever you can and share the message through videos, audio, and whatever (other ways) you can to spread the knowledge. Start a campaign if you like,” said Swan to the winners.
For more information on PRU4Antarctica, go to pru4antarctica.com.my.