This post is the last one of a series of four posts describing my voyage to Antarctica and experience as a participant of the women in science and leadership movement Homeward Bound.
If you have missed the first ones, here they are: (1/4) – The sound of our collective voices was loud, very loud, as it should be, always , (2/4) – The Antarctica of many facets, (3/4) – All voices matter
“This 500 year old Japanese Juniper Bonsai was a seedling when Christopher Columbus was sailing the world discovering the Americas, Henry VIII was but a baby, Leonardo da Vinci was 44 and the oil on the Mona Lisa was still wet. It is worth recognising that many generations of Bonsai lovers have contributed to this art piece, all sharing a common picture of what this beautiful miniature tree could be. This is what we are endeavouring to achieve through Homeward Bound; many hands, over many years, working towards one shared vision: A 1,000-strong collaboration of women with a science background, taking up significant leadership positions in our world, in order to enable better decisions with regard to the health of our planet.” Homeward Bound – My Journey workbook.
So Cecile, what’s next? is a question I have been asked many times since I came back from Antarctica.
I am slowly adjusting to life in the ‘real world’ – its trees, colours, smells, people, social media, shopping malls, cars, responsibilities… which is not always easy. My life here is exactly as I left it a month ago: busy, messy, exciting. I have hundreds of emails waiting for me, relationships to sort out and a PhD to finish. The mystery of my life hasn’t magically been discovered while I was away (what a pity!), but I come back into the ‘real world’ as a grown up woman.
Humanity is at a crossroads: either we keep harming our own species by ignoring the urgency of taking significant actions, or we transform completely our society (our leadership styles, our behaviours, how we work as a collective, how we define a healthy economic growth…). But, one thing is sure, we cannot keep exhausting our natural resources inconsiderately and expect them to always be there.
Armed with strategy maps, a 100-day plan and an incredible network to support me in the rolling seas of challenges, I am itching to be the change I seek. Homeward Bound has given us priceless ideas, knowledge, tools and a powerful social networks to unfold into our potential and build on the strength we each hold inside us. The hard, although rewarding, work of living our learning begins!
All around the world, groups of men and women are undertaking a silent revolution, the Homeward Bound movement being one of them. Knowing that we are not alone fighting for a positive change gives me hope.
While we were in Antarctica, 750 million people were reached with our story. Why? Because, and may we never forget, the world believes in us (us in its broadest sense: humans, scientists, women, Homeward Bound, …), our skill, compassion and capability.
I am staying involved in Homeward Bound, helping the initiative’s healthy growth. I am sharing my learnings at work, from my research team to the University and company Executive Team. However, I can’t expect everything to change around me in a week or two. The transformational process I went through and witnessed in others took a year, surrounded by world-experts in leadership, in a very well-thought and particular context.
Since I came back, I have met with many young school girls who study science, to share my experience and discuss with them their passions, achievements, doubts and fears. I was also lucky enough to be awarded the Queensland Women in STEM prize for my research and involvement in gender equity. All these new experiences and support are very exciting and make me grow every time a bit more.
As Fabian Dattner, co-founder of the Homeward Bound program says,
If not us, who? If not now, when? If not this, what?
For our peers, for the planet, for the future… 😉
Ps: Don’t forget that Homeward Bound is a 10-year long initiative, with the last expedition expected in 2026, so don’t hesitate to share this opportunity with your female friends and colleagues who have a background in science.
Read more about other participants’ journey here.
Other posts about my journey to Antarctica: (1/4) – The sound of our collective voices was loud, very loud, as it should be, always , (2/4) – The Antarctica of many facets, (3/4) – All voices matter