Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Different Sort of Motivation

While I certainly find Arnesen & Bancroft’s journey incredibly impressive, I am perhaps even more in awe by the worldwide following the pair received. The international support and interest, largely involving schoolchildren, undeniably provided an enormous support for the pair during their toughest times. Writing of their decision to end the trip early, Ann recounts, “It wasn’t ‘my’ or ‘her’ trip really. We had a responsibility to the people we’d involved—the kids, the base camp crew, our sponsors, ANI” (193-194). I could imagine such a following to generate both the pressure to succeed, but also the encouragement to persist in times of need. Although Ann and Liv claim to forever view their trip as incomplete, they acknowledge the undeniable reach of the journey (followed by over 3 million kids in 116 countries!), which in itself warrants success.

Throughout the course of the semester, we often question the motivation of climbers and adventurers. Some, like young Krakauer, seek personal fulfillment. Others, such as Herzog and Blum, aim to accomplish a historic first ascent of a peak. In my opinion, Arnesen & Bancroft’s motivation in journeying across Antarctica sets them apart from the aforementioned adventurers: while the pair became the first two women to ever cross the land mass of Antarctica, the underlying point of their trip involved the promotion of dreams. Ann in particular possessed the “belief that kids, especially young girls, desperately need someone to tell them it is ok to risk, to take adventures, to aspire to something to unimaginable that no one but you can see it” (47). This stance framed the expedition as almost a selfless act of courage rather than a selfish quest for recognition. More than adventurers, I view Ann & Liz as incredible role models. 

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