Avani Awasthee is an environmentalist, animal lover, TEDx speaker, and the youngest Indian to have set foot on the Antarctic. She is on her way back to the South Pole in February 2018.
A second year Bachelor in Arts student of School of Communication, Manipal, she has been selected — once again — for an international expedition to Antarctica, but this time as a mentor. It all started when at the age of 14 she met Robert Swan, the first man to walk to both the North and the South pole, at an event.
She has been handpicked from more than 6000 applicants for this expedition called ‘Climate Force: Antarctica 2018 Expedition’. Avani said, “all the individuals who are going on this expedition have taken the challenge to clean up 226 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in 7 years.” She added that the simplest way to eliminate carbon dioxide is by planting trees. This expedition starts on February 27, with them expected to return on March 11. Her entire expedition consists of individuals from different countries and diverse cultures, but with the same objective.
Last time, 143 people from 30 different nations embarked on an expedition to Antarctica to take a closer look at the problem. The Indian contingent contributed to 19 of them, with Avani being the youngest among them. Like every other successful person, even Avani was ridiculed by a lot of people for doing what she wanted to do. But now that she has achieved her dream, the same people are patting her back. She is grateful of her parents and friends, who have always supported her in every step of the journey.
When asked about the difficulties she had to face at the South Pole, she said, “while we were hiking suddenly I couldn’t breathe and they had to take me back to the ship. Only with enough rest was I fine and continued hiking again.” More than being fit, one has to have a willpower strong enough to complete the expedition, she said for the people who dream of going on an expedition. With a lot of unexpected struggles, she made her way to set foot on the icy continent.
Last week Avani got a chance to deliver a talk about her expedition and role of Indian youth in saving the environment, at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore at the Roundglass Samasara. Her mentor, Robert Swan was in the audience.
Other than many small efforts made by this 20-year-old, ‘Cycle to Recycle’ is her biggest initiative by her in her hometown, Pune. Last year she got selected to speak about her Antarctica Expedition at TedX Manipal.
With an aim of saving the environment, in the end, she had a small message for all the young Indians: “Stop making false claims. If you want to do it, just do it. We are the people who can initiate the change. So we need to stop talking and start acting.”
You can contribute here https://goo.gl/rSE63G so that she can get a step closer to Antarctica again.
– by Disha Acharya
– photographs by Radhika Chatterjee