A Crazy, Exciting, Sometimes-Scary, All-Around Unforgettable Experience: An S’18 Student Reflects on her Offshore Field Seminar

I have a feeling this semester is going to challenge me in very unexpected ways, and this trip was a good reminder that challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and the good thing about being a part of a supportive and collaborative community is that people are willing to help whenever help is needed.

By Olivia Glaser, Williams-Mystic S’18 and Skidmore College ’20

Note: This post is an excerpt from Olivia’s reflections on her offshore experience. Check out the full post (and other posts on her Williams-Mystic experience!) on the blog she’s keeping for the semester, OG at Sea: https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/oglaser/ 

 

 

Hello!  I am back from the Offshore Field Seminar.  We circumnavigated the island of Puerto Rico in 10 days, and it was a crazy, exciting, sometimes scary, and all around unforgettable experience.  The director of the program, Tom Van Winkle, provided us each with notebooks in which he wrote us a personalized message of how to make the most out of our semesters here.  We were encouraged to write in our notebooks whenever we could during the field seminar, and I tried my best to write as much as possible.  I have transcribed the majority of my notes into this post, adding editor’s notes along the way.

Sunday

0510 – At the Hartford Airport, with Cheez-It’s.  Rachel’s biggest worry: “That everyone makes it out alive.”

My professor, Rachel, is a self-proclaimed Jewish mother, and we are her children.  

1107 – On the bus from the airport in Puerto Rico.  The music on this bus is SO GOOD.

1213 – Made it aboard the SSV Cramer after a short bus ride from the airport.  All of the palm trees I saw still had their tops but there were definitely signs of the hurricane, such as ripped balcony awnings, partially destroyed buildings, and a billboard and post that was completely on its side.  We’ve just got our bunks and unpacked and are now waiting to continue on with orientations from the crew and captain.

Technically, we were the crew on Cramer.  It is actually illegal for the ship to have passengers, so everyone on board must act as a crew member.  

1821 – Had a brief introduction to the crew and then lunch.  We split up into watch groups for more specific orientation.  I’m in group B and our second mate is Rocky and our assistant scientist is Janet.  We learned how to do a boat check on deck, in the galley, and in the engine room.  The engine room was so cramped and hot!  I was so tired that I was standing up in the lab swaying with my eyes closed.  I am just trying to stay as hydrated as I can.  It’s Sunday, but we aren’t leaving port until tomorrow evening, where we’ll anchor somewhere not too far out.  There’s almost 30-knot winds out there, so it’s better for everyone to stay in the harbor.  That’s surely where and when the seasickness will begin.  Although I’ve been fine at the dock, just tired.  It’s good we’re also getting full night’s sleep today and at least tomorrow.

Here is a breakdown of how the watch schedule actually works:

Day 1:

  • 0700-1300 — A WATCH
  • 1300-1900 — B WATCH
  • 1900-2300 — C WATCH
  • 2300-0300 — A WATCH

Day 2: 

  • 0300-0700 — B WATCH
  • 0700-1300 — C WATCH
  • 1300-1900 — A WATCH
  • 1900-2300 — B WATCH
  • 2300-0300 — C WATCH

Day 3:

  • 0300-0700 — A WATCH
  • 0700-1300 — B WATCH
  • 1300-1900 — C WATCH
  • 1900-2300 — A WATCH
  • 2300-0300 — B WATCH

2012 – I am in bed ready to go to sleep.  We had really good pizza for dinner and then my watch was on dishes.  It was fun but I almost fell from the crate I was standing on twice.  We will get woken up at some time during the night for our watch.  It’s weird to have to wake up someone who is basically a stranger.

After many days of watch, it is not weird to get woken up by someone, and my classmates are definitely not strangers anymore.  In fact, it was kind of exciting to pull back the bunk curtain and see who was behind it, whispering my name.  Also, steward appreciation note: the two stewards on our trip were ACTUAL WIZARDS and cooked some of the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time.  A lot of my journal entries are food oriented; we basically ate six meals a day, and it is so wonderful to find rice crispy treats waiting for you when you wake up for 0300 watch. 

… [Read Olivia’s journal entries from the rest of the trip here] …

Some final observations and reflections:

  • Seasickness goes away after a while! It does get better!
  • Putting 20 college students on a boat is truly a great way to bond.  Also, part of me feels that bonding is overrated, since we have the entire semester to get to know one another, and this trip was a great way to jump start that process.
  • I often forget that I love science and doing science on a boat was even more fun that I expected.
  • People that work on boats are SO COOL and I want to be like all of them when I grow up.
  • I have a feeling this semester is going to challenge me in very unexpected ways, and this trip was a good reminder that challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and the good thing about being a part of a supportive and collaborative community is that people are willing to help whenever help is needed.

To read more about Olivia’s experience, visit https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/oglaser/ 

America’s Vanishing Coastline: Climate Adaptation and Decision-Making in Southern Louisiana

When Spring ’17 student Natalie DiNenno stumbled across an article about climate refugees in Alaska, she wondered if she had found her marine policy research topic. Studying sociology at Williams had taught Natalie to “think about research in terms of people and places,” and she hoped to carry this approach over to her policy research project at Williams-Mystic.

Guided by marine policy professor Katy Robinson Hall (S’84), Natalie decided to explore climate adaptation not in Alaska but in southern Louisiana — and, in particular, in many of the communities, we visit during our Louisiana Field Seminar.

“I never would have thought about this in terms of policy,” Natalie notes a year later. But as she explored the topic further, she “realized that people can’t just decide,” in isolation, whether to “restore the coast or retreat.” They require “government organization, legislation, and funding.”

Just over a year after Natalie’s Williams-Mystic semester began, Natalie and Katy presented their research at a Log Lunch, a weekly gathering hosted by the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies and featuring speakers on a range of environmental topics.

In advance of their talk, Natalie reflected on her research, on how her experiences on the Louisiana Field Seminar complicated it, and on the lessons, it has to offer other communities imperiled by rising seas. Read on to hear her thoughts.

WM.F17.LA.Day3-1
Chris Hernandez, Town Supervisor of Grand Isle, LA, speaks to students about his barrier island town’s eroding beaches.
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Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar speaks in front of a community cemetery threatened by land subsidence.

When I was originally looking into project ideas, I found an article about Alaskan climate refugees. I thought that might be interesting to explore, but I didn’t know how it intersected with marine policy. I’m a sociology major, so I tend to think about research in terms of places and peoples. [Marine Policy Professor] Katy [Robinson Hall] suggested that I look into land loss into Louisiana, and the decision that the people living there have to make: restore the coast, or retreat? I never would have thought about this in terms of policy, but as I did further research I realized that people can’t just decide to do either of these things by themselves without government organization, legislation, and funding. Another key takeaway: land loss is fast, and governments are slow. This is a dangerous combination.

Approaching the project, I asked questions including: Why restore the coast? Can it be done? What work has to be done in order for people to conduct organized resettlements? Who advocates for restoration, and who advocates for retreat? Where does funding come from, and what happens if there is no funding?

My conclusion, in brief, is that while Louisiana should pursue restoration where possible, due to the rapid loss of land, the government should prioritize resettlement and dedicate funding to this effort. Land loss happens more rapidly than restoration. It is better to save communities by moving them than to focus purely on restoration (particularly in places that primarily benefit energy and oil interests), because if they are not saved now, they will simply break up and wash away as residents move individually.

Describe a moment of the Louisiana Field Seminar that stands out to you.

I distinctly remember meeting Chief Shirell [Parfait-Dardar of the Grand Caillou-Dulac Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Choctaw Indians] and being surprised by how young, energetic, and passionate she was. The way she spoke about her tribe and what they will lose if nothing is done was heartbreaking, but she also had an incredible amount of joy and hope despite how desperate their situation is.

How did your experiences in Louisiana shape your research — either the way you carried it out or the questions you asked in the first place?

Katy told me before we left that I would return from the field seminar even more confused and conflicted than I already was, and she was right. Without the field seminar, my analysis of the issue would have been much colder and less personal, with more emphasis on advocating for retreat. But seeing the people who live there, and how connected they are to their land, made me reconsider how difficult it really is to just pick up and move.

I think that if I had written the same paper for a class at Williams, and not at Williams-Mystic, I would have lacked an understanding of the coastal way of life and just how important the ocean is to people’s lives. Williams-Mystic allowed me to see the world in a way that was completely different than learning that takes place solely in a classroom.

What do you wish more people understood about climate adaptation in coastal Louisiana and regions like it?

For these people, climate change is happening now. That’s true for a lot of places — in the form of extreme weather conditions, storms, and changing temperatures, but the actual physical loss of land is more concrete. There are people living in these regions who can point to a body of water and say “there used to be a beach/house/restaurant there.” It doesn’t even matter if there aren’t any more storms; the land will continue to sink and the sea will continue to rise. When people think about climate change, I don’t think they often picture land disappearing. But it is.

An Oddly Pleasant Lack of Personal Autonomy: Day Eight of the S’18 Offshore Field Seminar

The nature of rules on board the Cramer interests me. There are more of them than on land — unless it’s just that we don’t notice most landside rules because we’ve internalized them.

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow

February 4

The nature of rules on board the Cramer interests me. There are more of them than on land — unless it’s just that we don’t notice most landside rules because we’ve internalized them. Here, it takes a couple days to get the rules down, but the reasons behind them are usually clear. After dark, anyone wanting to go on deck has to ask permission of the watch officer, so that no one is forgotten and gets in trouble. When using the head, enter and latch the door before turning on the light — some of the night watch will likely be sleeping no matter the hour. The rationality of the rules makes them easier to take, as does the fact that they apply across the board to staff, students, and crew.

So do chores. As the Williams-Mystic and SEA motto puts it, “you’re not passengers, you’re crew.” As I write, B Watch is cleaning the heads and mopping down the salon. While the hierarchy for decision-making is absolute — nobody would gainsay the captain — the work is apportioned to all. During the day, for instance, Ben Harden is the ship’s Chief Scientist, but he’s also often the one hauling out trash.

The combination of egalitarian spirit, round-the-clock watches and the clarity of structure means that our lack of personal autonomy is often oddly pleasant. You won’t need an alarm, we were told at the beginning of the trip: somebody will always tell you what to do. And they do. Mornings start with a visit from the watch — “Shawn, it’s 0600. Breakfast in 20 minutes“— and throughout the day the schedule functions like an intimate machine: the ring of a triangle announces musters, class time, watch changes. There’s something soothing in ceasing the task of independently planning one’s day. It’s a little like being rocked in your bunk by the waves: a calling back to childhood, but joined with adult responsibilities.

We’re presently moored off Vieques, just to the east of the main island of Puerto Rico. We arrived yesterday late morning, enjoyed a swim, and then, after lunch and class, spent the afternoon on the beach and snorkeling. Students will spend most of their time today working on science presentations. We’ll start back this afternoon.

A selection of memories:

  • The transparent larval glass eel (it looks like its name) drawn up in the Neuston tow
  • The giant manta (7–8 feet) that swam with the boat for four or five minutes, diving from port side to starboard. Why did it stay for so long? Was it looking for food? Just curious?
  • A horse galloping on the beach (one of the herds of free-roaming Viequean horses)
  • Watching Ian Ortiz (Swarthmore College ’20) trying to smash open the fresh coconuts he found growing on the beach palms (he eventually succeeded)

TRACK OUR PROGRESS!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

Taking the Helm: Day Six of the S’18 Offshore Field Seminar

How lucky for her, seasick as she was, to have this chance.  And how wonderful of her to take it, with such gusto, as the ship cut its way in the night.

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow 

 

February 2

The Cramer spent yesterday off the western edge of Puerto Rico, with the second and third crew teams taking their turns at plankton collection and analysis.  The seas were quiet.  After dinner, though, as we turned east to continue circumnavigating the island, the wind and waves picked up substantially. 

Around 2100 my stomach felt a strong need to go on deck.  

“Leeward side,” said Rebecca Johnson, the Chief Mate, when I got there.  “And clip in.”

Stumbling to the rail, I found that I wasn’t alone.  Five or six others were there, crouched in fetal positions, or leaning their heads mutely against the hull.  “Welcome to the party,” said one, who helped me clip in.  It was Brianna Buckley (SUNY Maritime College ‘20), from the Bronx.  She’d been OK, she said, until she had to do a larval count in the science center.  With that, we returned to our private miseries.

But here’s the thing: it wasn’t just miserable.  In fact, it was also glorious, as the Cramer plunged into the swells, throwing off huge milky curls of whitewater to either side. The rising moon, only a day past full, lit the glinting water.  Soft misting sprays broke over us on deck.

Jason, the captain, consulted with Rebecca.  Shelby Hoogland (Bryn Mawr ‘19) and A.J. Rush (University of Rhode Island ‘19) were in the galley, cleaning up from dinner.  Shelby was at lookout.  She asked Brianna how she was feeling.  

“Much better,” she said.   

“So, do you think you can take the tiller?”

Instantly, she took up her position, in which she would now be in no small part responsible for the well-being, not to say the comfort, of thirty people.

“Come up twenty degrees, Brianna.  Good.  Steady as she goes.”

And Brianna was steady, standing there face forward with both hands on the tiller, one foot placed ahead to prop her, 160 tons of ship bucking and plunging at her direction.  And I thought: how lucky for her, sick as she was, to have this chance.  And how wonderful of her to take it, with such gusto, as the ship cut its way in the night.


TRACK OUR PROGRESS!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

 

S’18 Underway!

We’re now sailing west along the coast of Puerto Rico, under full sun and without the big wind waves. 

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Faculty Fellow

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January 31

We’re underway!   Last night we got word from the captain that we’d be leaving at dawn, and by 0500 crew teams were preparing the ship.  Just after 0700 we departed into a strikingly beautiful morning, with squalls partly obscuring the citadel of El Morro and downtown San Juan behind us, clear skies above, and a rainbow to our bow. In the harbor, the Corwith Cramer was dwarfed by the container ships and cruise ships navigating in (one of the latter had its own roller coaster).  With their dull, unruffled progress, it was hard to believe they were kin to the Cramer.

Out of harbor the seas were spotty, with five– to seven–foot swells sometimes pushed up by the wind to nine or ten feet.  There was general giddiness at feeling the ship under sail.  When we hit a squall, the rain lasted just long enough to test our rain gear. Most of us began to feel the ship’s motion in our stomachs (a complex mixture of side-to-side and up and down that looks like a corkscrew). It was no worse than we had been warned; if anything, the seasickness is working to bring the group closer.  People — both students and the professional crew — have rallied to clean up and give comfort with generous good spirits.

We also set to our immediate tasks: raising and trimming sail, keeping lookout, beginning our science experiments.  Ten minutes out of the harbor, Micala Delepierre (College of the Atlantic ’19) had begun her first shift at the tiller – no time like the present.  By lunch we had run tests on water clarity and salinity, taken samples from 300 meters of the water column, and collected phytoplankton and zooplankton for later analysis.

We’re now sailing west along the coast of Puerto Rico, under full sun and without the big wind waves.  The plan is to turn south when we reach the island’s westernmost extremity, in order to sail from the Atlantic into the Caribbean.  Meantime, most people are hanging out on deck, enjoying the weather, or grabbing coveted naps.

 


TRACK OUR PROGRESS!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

 

 

 

 

 

“Ship, Shipmate, Self”: Days One and Two aboard the Corwith Cramer

This ship is a world, both large and small, and full of lines and knots and pins and cleats, of anemometers and antennae, of sophisticated tools for taking advantage of the vectors of wind and water.

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow 

 

A Note from the Author

Hello.  Welcome to my blog for the S’18 Williams-Mystic voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer.  Our twenty students are drawn from all over the United States: from Rhode Island and Connecticut, but also Texas and Alaska, and many parts in between.  We’re led by Tim Pusack, the Williams-Mystic marine ecologist, and Rachel Scudder, the program’s current oceanographer.  I’m Shawn Rosenheim, the first Williams-Mystic residential fellow from Williams College, where I usually teach American literature and film studies.  I’ll be blogging our trip every couple of days.

January 28

Up at 0200 for an early flight out of Hartford.  We arrive in San Juan midmorning and are onboard the Corwith Cramer before lunch, which we eat on deck, surrounded by frigate birds and pelicans.  Over lunch I ask Rachel if she’s nervous about the trip.  “Not at all,” she says.  “The time I’m nervous is in the planning.  I’ve done this kind of thing so many times that once I’m here, I’m home.”

The ship looks smaller than I expected, especially moored as it is across from La Suprema, an enormous box-like ferry imported from Palermo to provide temporary housing for 3000 FEMA contractors.  And yet: when I gaze at the rope ladder rising up 90 or 100 feet through the Cramer’s rigging, my body reconsiders the judgment of my eyes.  This ship is a world, both large and small, and full of lines and knots and pins and cleats, of anemometers and antennae, of sophisticated tools for taking advantage of the vectors of wind and water.

We’re not quite ready to start our journey, though: first, we have to be educated in the operation of the ship’s systems by its professional crew.  We tour the boat, from the bilge to the rigging.  It’s a lot to take in. Jason Quilter, our captain, describes the glut of information given to students the first couple days as drinking from a firehose.  That feels about right.  Still, I’m all ears when Abby Cazeault, the ship’s first science officer, explains why it’s crucial to keep hydrochloric acid outside the science center and away from the formalin: “because mixing those two is how you make mustard gas.”

It’s very pleasant, dockside, with a breeze that keeps the heat down.  Just outside the harbor, though, it’s a different story, with strong winds and seas of up to 18 feet.  We’re effectively pinned down for the time being.  The students use the time to practice the watches they have begun keeping, one each hour around the clock. These will continue till the end of our voyage.

January 29

Still pinned down.  We practice drills for man overboard and fire, and raise the forestays’l for the first time.  In the afternoon, we break from the ship to explore the oldest parts of San Juan.  We start atop the promontory at the harbor entrance at El Morro, with sweeping views of the incoming waves, then wander through narrow streets and have a coffee or ice cream. Much has been replastered and repainted, but it’s hard to avoid evidence of physical and economic devastation.  It’s high season here, but we don’t see many tourists.

Back on the ship, I’m struck again by the ship’s visible intricacy, and by the correspondingly complex language used to name the Cramer’s parts and functions.  There are over 200 different lines, and woe to him who confuses his stays’l with his painter.  At the same time, shipboard language is also often simple, memorable, and moral.  Teaching us how to set up and break down lines, Christine McCormick, the third mate, tells us “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast,” expertly demonstrating the truth of her claims with her deft manipulations.  “Pretty works,” she adds, and shows us what she means: the lines, it seems, want to be arranged in satisfying patterns.  Shipboard aesthetics is apparently not all that different from shipboard ethics.

Most striking of all is the phrase “ship, shipmate, self.”  We hear this several times a day: a code of behavior in three words.  College education usually shies away from such direct injunctions.  In this context, though, it’s hard to resist.  Dependent as each of us will be on the ship and its crew, taking care of those first is just good sense. The students seem to be taking the adage to heart.  Everyone is eager to embark, but when it’s decided that we need to stay tied up for another night, I don’t hear even a peep of complaint.


Track Our Progress!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

 

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

How One Alumna’s South Pole Journey Earned Williams-Mystic $25,000

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Jaime Hensel (S’03) arrives at the ceremonial South Pole, Williams-Mystic burgee in hand.

During Alumni Reunion Weekend 2017, Alexander “Sasha” Bulazel (S’85) posed a challenge to his fellow Williams-Mystic alumni: Take a picture with the Williams-Mystic burgee at one of our planet’s extremes,* and Bulazel would donate $25,000 to Williams-Mystic.

Not two months later, Jaime Hensel (S’03), arrived at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station with the Williams-Mystic burgee in hand.

For Hensel, a nurse practitioner who is half of South Pole Station’s medical team this austral summer, this moment had been years in the making.

It began during her Williams-Mystic semester, when her experience offshore — she spent her twentieth birthday sleeping on the deck of the Corwith Cramer — inspired her to pursue tall ship sailing after graduation.

Throughout her five years in the tall ship world, Hensel met shipmates who’d been to Antarctica. As on the Cramer, an idea took root.

That idea persisted, even as Hensel found herself in other places she never expected to.

Aboard the schooner Adventuress, for instance, Hensel read a book by the vessel’s captain about his experiences walking the Camino de Santiago.

As she puts it: “Like many things in my life, [the idea] took hold and I thought, ‘I should do this one day.’”

Not long after, she found herself on the Camino. It was there her life took another turn, when a new friend she met there helped her decide to pursue nursing.

Throughout her years at the Yale School of Nursing, Hensel continued to consider going to the South Pole. She applied three times after graduating in 2013 before, in the spring of 2016, she was granted an interview.

“They said, ‘How about the summer season of 2017/18?’ I … wasn’t totally certain [until a few months later] I had been hired.”

 

Hensel reached the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on November 1, 2017. The station, her home until February, sits at 9,306 feet above sea level, perched atop a 9,000-foot thick ice sheet that drifts as many as 33 feet each year.

For Hensel, this world of extremes felt familiar.

“It’s an awful lot like living on a boat here,” she explains over the phone five weeks after her arrival at the South Pole. Resources are scarce. The station’s inhabitants, numbering up to 150 most austral summers and 40 most winters, relate to each other as shipmates.

Like sailors, they communicate using their own argot. Their uniform comprises government-issued red overcoats (“big red”) and white boots (“bunny boots”). Inhabitants even refer to their kitchen as a galley.

They work hard too. Everyone takes turns cleaning shared spaces. Hensel and the station’s doctor spend sixty hours a week in the clinic and alternate being on call during off hours.

“We run a hospital, basically,” Hensel reflects. “We’re our own pharmacists. We’re our own lab … We want to take care of [people] because they’re our community.”

The entire station is that way: a self-contained unit. All its supplies have to be flown or hauled in over three summer months. Though the station is moored atop more than a mile of ice, residents are limited to two two-minute showers each week because even extracting water demands scarce fuel. Inhabitants manufacture their own fun, too; Hensel’s learning to unicycle, cross-country ski, and even drive snowmobiles.

Who thrives here? For Hensel, “the short answer is a sailor: Someone who is used to living in close quarters. You also have to be willing to put up with a certain amount of discomfort. To quote Glenn, ‘if you’re cold, you’re dumb.’ ” Since limited satellite coverage means you can only access the internet three hours most days, you also have to be “willing to connect with human beings around you.”

 

When Hensel sailed aboard the schooner Adventuress, she learned to view the “boat as a metaphor for a small planet”: a world of finite resources, resources that must be managed by the people reliant on them.

For Hensel, this “small dot in the middle of a large, frozen sea” felt like home for precisely this reason.

“[South Pole Station] is definitely station as metaphor for small planet,” she reflects. “It’s also one of those crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experiences… I love it here.”

 

* These extremes include: the North and South Poles; the Marianas Trench and/or another significant point on the ocean floor; or, the top of one of the world’s tallest mountains (e.g., Everest or K2). Bulazel has pledged up to $100,000; i.e., he will donate $25,000 for each of the first four alumni (including Hensel) who takes a picture with our burgee at one of these places. Contact us at wmalumni@williams.edu if you are going somewhere that might qualify!

Notes and Further Reading

We’re profoundly grateful to Alex Bulazel for his generosity and to Jaime Hensel for her adventurous spirit (and for taking the time to talk about her experiences during a rare moment of satellite coverage).

If you want to hear more about Hensel’s experience — or simply learn more about life at the South Pole — I highly recommend her blog: https://henselbelowzero.wordpress.com/. If you want to embark on a South Pole journey of your own, Hensel says she would be happy to hear from you; you can reach her at jaime.hensel@gmail.com.

Some additional resources I drew on in writing this piece include:

https://www.nsf.gov/geo/opp/support/southp.jsp

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/south-pole/