‘The end is nigh’, is a statement that has been made countless times with respect to the climate change debate. Is the earth’s biodiversity really at the brink of destruction? This is something that Tanya Rasquinha will find out at the International Antarctic Expedition 2017, a ten day journey to Antarctica under Sir Robert Swan, the first person to walk to the North and South Pole unassisted. Swan’s expeditions taught him that the polar ecosystem is fragile as the mining activities in these parts have adversely affected the biodiversity. This led to the Antarctic Treaty which put a moratorium on any kind of activity that threatens the Antarctic environment. The treaty is in force till 2041. The year is also the name of Swan’s organisation that arranges expeditions for next generation leaders coming from all over the world to inform, engage and inspire to take on sustainable development.
Rasquinha, a city-based designer, who has been working in the development sector in various parts of the country, is one of the few who have been selected to join Swan on this life changing experience. “A diverse group of people have been selected to be part of this expedition. The main cause is to come up with new ideas and build a community of people who will work towards sustainable development.” However, preparing for this journey doesn’t just end with getting selected as the expedition is not a ten day vacation. The chosen candidates have to raise funds that enable them to join this. Rasquinha explains that this makes every candidate realise the importance of getting the chance to be a part of this journey. She has to raise Rs 12 lakh, “I am reaching out to people as well as corporates who are working towards a sustainable living. The entire cost includes the budget for the flight to get to Argentina from Pune, the expedition costs, clothing and other equipment to bear the extreme weather as well as insurance.”
Now honing her design skills at a travel technology firm, the 27-year-old change maker also mentors two children who come from an underprivileged background. “This has been the most empowering experience, because growing up I thought about all the mentors I had, that influenced my life in a good way. They really helped shape my mind. The idea is that I had to start off being a friend with the children. I am mentoring two sisters who were inseparable. There is a curriculum that I have to follow, but the most important thing is to build trust.”
Taking all this experience with her, Rasquinha’s focus lies on gaining enough knowledge and exposure from the expedition and use it bring about change in the country with regard to promoting clean energy and green technology. Her interests include encouraging innovation in education among children, “From whatever I did in school, I fondly remember the times when I created something. I read somewhere that children are being taught gardening in school. Such things should be promoted that are experiential in nature.”
With less than 40 days in hand to raise funds, Rasquinha is committed to this expedition that will define her future as a global climate change influencer. She is sure to come back and work towards a greener world to live in.
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