West Meets East – Antarctic Forum

by | 11.28.2013 at 6:52am
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The color and shape of the icebergs form pieces of glacial ar (Photo M Turrin.

The color and shape of the icebergs form pieces of glacial art. Photo: M. Turrin

Remove outside distractions. Place participants in close proximity. Provide opportunities for intellectual stimulation and open dialogue. Promote group activities that are unique and extreme in nature to build common references between the participants. These are the ingredients for structuring an environment for creative group dynamics and problem solving. This is the structure of the Antarctic Forum.

The Gentoo penguin, seemingly unafraid of humans, are increasing in numbers with the warming climate. (Photo M. Turrin)

The Gentoo penguin, seemingly unafraid of humans, are increasing in numbers with the warming climate, a topic for consideration by this group that is focused on “eco-civilization.” Photo: M. Turrin

Blended through excursions to inlets in small harbors, islands and peninsula landings along the Gerlache Strait are talks covering economics, climate, science, philosophy and religion. Discussion groups range from small intimate settings to theater panel presentations and salon style conversations. All topics are open for dialogue with the group, and opinions are expressed openly.

The weather turned during our stop at the historic British Station of Port Lockroy (Photo M. Turrin).The weather turned during our stop at the historic British Station of Port Lockroy (Photo M. Turrin).

The weather turned during our stop at the historic British Station of Port Lockroy, with katabatic winds whipping up snow and ice. Photo: M. Turrin

The trip started with the expected reserve, some mingling but much politeness and caution. However the combination of 10 p.m. excursions to visit a Gentoo penguin colony, late afternoon toasts using glacial ice for cooling in the beverages, unexpected sighting of a pair of whales as they circled the glaciers, surprise bad weather when we had stopped at Fort Lockroy, and dinnertime tours around a bay to see seals, birds and other wildlife have melted the reserve. As glasses were raised in toast, it was noted that the masks had melted away and would remain that way until the ship docked and participants headed back home. The return of the mask was mimed with sadness.

The color of the ice is a turquoise blue that seems unearthly. (Photo M Turrin)

The color of the ice is a turquoise blue that seems unearthly. Photo: M. Turrin

Above all else, music has provided the backdrop for a blending and mingling. An impromptu chorus rehearsal for a visit to the Chinese Great Wall Station had large numbers from the group practicing “The Same Song” and “Friends Forever” (Auld Lang Syne) in Chinese. Those of us who know no Chinese sang out with great enthusiasm and were welcomed into the group.

A group of penguins stick together as they make their way across the ice - they slip and fall but pop back up and keep moving. (Photo M. Turrin)

A group of penguins stick together as they make their way across the ice — they slip and fall but pop back up and keep moving — an analog for what we must do to move forward with many issues under discussion. Photo: M. Turrin

Perhaps the most extraordinary was the evening performance of the arts — Ning Li the illusionist, and the musical performances by Ning An (pianist), Gregrio Robino (cellist) and Dan Zhu (violist). From Chopin to Tchiakovsky to Saint-Saens to Mendelssohn, the music filled the theater and brought all to their feet. This will send us off to the Chinese Great Wall Station tomorrow with Professor Yang, the first chief scientist of this location.

Our world famous concert musicians with Xiaojun Yuan,  Dan Zhu (violinist),  Gregrio Robino (cellist) and Ning An (pianist) R to L (Photo M. Turrin.

Our world famous concert musicians, from left: Adrian Tang, Dan Zhu (violinist), Gregrio Robino (cellist) and Ning An (pianist). Photo: M. Turrin

 

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