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Cameo Slaybaugh's picture

It's been two months since I arrived back home. Things have been extremely hectic. When I got home my mom had left a message to call. She informed me that my dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer while I was in Antarctica. They had decided not to tell me because they didn't want to put a damper on my time in Antarctica. After several weeks and numerous tests, my dad was told that he would need radiation treatment but that the prognosis was very good. He started treatment this week and we are very optimistic.

It seems that while I was in Antarctica the world had still gone on. I spent six weeks in an amazing place that is a world of its own. Sometimes it feels like that whole experience was a dream. However, I know that it was very real and that the experience has changed me.

Originally, I applied to PolarTREC because I wanted to visit one of the Polar regions. My first choice was always Antarctica but I would have also loved the chance to study in the Arctic. I honestly didn't expect to make it past the first round. I cried when I was informed that I had been selected to interview with one of the researchers. I was so excited when the people at ARCUS (Arctic Research Consortium of the United Stated) called to tell me that Dr. Stacy Kim had chosen me to go with her research team to Antarctica.

The next thing I knew I was on a plane to Alaska. The week I spent in Fairbanks was awesome. I learned all kinds of new things that would help me complete my duties in Antarctica. I also went on several field trips that included feeding live reindeer. However, the best part was meeting and getting to know the other teachers and the staff at ARCUS.

During the next few months it almost didn't seem real. However, once June came I was busy doing a variety of things that would make it possible for me to go to Antarctica. In August I went to California and met Dr. Stacy Kim and the research team and that's when it started to feel real.

The next several months were extremely busy. I was getting ready to go to Antarctica and I was starting a new school year with a new teaching partner named Frederick Wagner. Before I knew it November 4th had arrived. I left the United States the day that the new president was elected and returned to a brand new country.

My time in Antarctica was amazing and way too short. I felt at home at McMurdo Station and I loved every minute of my time there. The scenery is incredible and the chance to see penguins and seals and glaciers was something that I am extremely grateful for. Working as a member of a research team was something that I will always remember. I loved watching the science unfold right before my eyes and knowing that I was a small part of it. However, once again, it was the people that made this such an amazing experience. Everyone at McMurdo Station was friendly and they make the station what it is. Each member of the research team, including Stacy, Bob, Francois, Scott, DJ, Marco, and Jim, have touched me in their own special way and they will always have a place in my heart. They helped make one of my dreams come true.

I know that this experience has been incredible and definitely an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have learned so much about Antarctica, ROV's, scientific research, and why studying Antarctica is so important for the rest of the world. I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can do almost anything that I set my mind to. I also learned that it is the people that make life what it is.

There are a lot of people that helped make my PolarTREC experience in Antarctica possible and I would like to thank them. The people at ARCUS were responsible for coordinating the entire adventure and making things run smoothly. The National Science Foundation provided the funding and support. Raytheon's people coordinated everything necessary for my trip to Antarctica. My teaching partner Frederick Wagner gave me the peace of mind to leave my job for six weeks and enjoy myself. The members of the research team gave me guidance and support and made my time in Antarctica unforgettable. Lastly, Dr. Stacy Kim gave me the chance to see the last pristine environment on the planet and helped me understand that it is the people that will determine how the rest of the world ends up.

My dream became a reality and it was amazing. I hope that you do whatever it takes to make your dream come true.