What an amazing group of people! That would summarize my experience after my first full day at orientation at the Westmark hotel in Fairbanks, Alaska.
When I got selected as a PolarTREC teacher in November 27, 2013, I was speechless. It was Thanksgiving eve when I got a call from Sarah Bartholow sharing the good news. Full of excitement, she said, "You will be traveling to the South Pole!" And that meant that I would also be traveling to orientation in Alaska in early February, 2014.
I flew for like 20 hours feeling not overwhelmed, but excited about meeting face-to-face the people who so far I knew only via phone and e-mail.
On February 8, a few hours after arriving at the Westmark hotel, I was greeted by Sarah and Janet Warburton in the Yukon meeting room. They were getting things ready to start orientation the next day, and greeted me with the best ever hug and smile. I said, "this is what really matters in life, not money but actually interacting with people like that, and sharing lots of good vibe."
During breakfast on February 9 I also got to meet my fellow teachers, including participants as well as PolarTREC alumni. We all shared the same interests and passion for science. There was energy and excitement in the air as we all discussed past expeditions as well as the upcoming ones.
As soon as we started on February 9, 2014, the PolarTREC staff acknowledged me for flying from San Juan, Puerto Rico. "Armando gets our farthest traveler award", Janet announced. Overall, I would say my expectations with my fellow teachers and PolarTREC staff were not only met, but actually exceeded.