Anticipation built as we waited for the call.
“Good Afternoon, Everybody; Good Afternoon. For those of you who are going to do the Polar Plunge, please make your way to the mudroom and we will begin the event in just a few minutes…”
The moment had arrived. We nervously left our cabin and proceeded to the mudroom where we encountered quite a party! Dance music was blaring and people young-in-age and young-at-heart were dancing in swimsuits and bathrobes waiting to be the next to plunge into the icy depths of the Southern Ocean.
Air Temperature: 43 degrees Farenheit
Water Temperature: 33 degrees Farenheit
The four of us – Nina, Jenn, Mariam, and I – locked arms, climbed up to the jump spot, squinted our eyes and leapt into the abyss.
I plunged into the darkness and immediately felt the instinct to find my way back up to the top, the frigid water urging me along the way, showing me that I did not belong there. I burst through the surface in a spray of salty water and swam toward our saviors. Someone grabbed my arm and helped me onto the platform back up out of the water. It’s amazing what the cold does to your neurological system. All the way off the platform, into the zodiac, and up the stairs back to the mudroom my lips trembled and my voice spasmed with sounds I didn’t think I was capable of making.
We rushed into the mudroom where we were handed towels and a cup of peppermint hot chocolate. My friends and I looked at each other and laughed.
We did it!
On the eve of my 35th birthday, the plunge serves as a perfect metaphor for my life. Symbolically, I see it as an end to old ways of thinking and being – a cleansing, so to speak, and a choice to move in new directions, to advance to new horizons. The ocean –cold, dark and intimidating to many – is, to me, invigorating and inspiring. Like the ocean continues to move and refresh itself, we can always be better than we were before. We can always choose new paths, and with persistence we can always get to where we want to go.
That moment, to me, was the celebration of my personal new year.
The festivities continued with an exquisite dinner prepared by our dedicated kitchen staff and servers. We were treated to a Swedish Smorgasboard filled with an array of fresh fish, meats, and vegetables complete with a bottle of Chilean Carmenere, courtesy of our new friend, Mary, from Australia.
The conversation was as wonderful as the meal, and complemented with a few humpback whale sightings out the window on our cruise to the next destination. I tried making a few images of them, but have learned quickly that sea creatures are elusive while swimming.
Our nightly ritual of retreating to the library of the ship for journaling and catching up with our blogs, was filled with quiet reflection, some laughter and commentary as we looked through our pictures from the day, and, as always, the majestic view of ocean, mountains, snow, and ice...and a few orcas on the way.
This expedition, this “plunge,” has forever impressed itself on my soul. It has been an amazing journey—as much a personal quest for knowledge and worldly understanding as a professional endeavor and a way to make these deep concepts meaningful and inspirational for my students. We cannot teach what we don’t know, right? Well, now I feel like I actually do know.
I am relishing this moment and the next few days of this expedition and I will certainly enjoy bringing this global awareness and interdisciplinary learning to my schools back home. A voyage such as this is reserved for the privileged few and I intend to bring this voyage home to the many young people who are learning in our schools right now.
It is exciting to wonder how many young people will be inspired to become global travelers, citizen scientists, environmental stewards, travel writers, or fellow educators as a result of the curriculum and instruction we educators will bring back to our classrooms from this experience.
Into the open waters we shall venture to bring this experience to life for our students!
|More Gentoo Penguins|
|Orcas (killer whales) swimming by our ship|