A trip to Antarctica changed the lives of 10 Dubai students. Apart from making them see the environment in a new light, it also changed their perspective on life, says Shiva Kumar Thekkepat
er fingers could hardly grip. The wool of her glove was icy and slippery, but Pooja Balaji knew she couldn’t let go. If she did then she’d, plunge into the abyss. So she clung on, desperately hoping her nine teammates were safe on the top of the icy peak deep in the heart of Antarctica, known as Meditation Rock, and would pull her to safety.
“The incident probably took less than 10 seconds,” she says. “But in that time my entire life flashed past my mind’s eye.”
Luckily, the Grade 12 student of Dubai Modern Academy (DMA) survived, but it was a moment that changed everything forever.
“I decided that I wanted to do everything I could in this life and in the process make a difference to the world in some way.”
Pooja and her teammates had travelled to Antarctica as part of an initiative by UK-based explorer and environmental activist Sir Robert Swan to save the continent. They had reached the peak of the Rock where they looked out over the icy abyss. Pooja was on her way down the slope when she stepped on a piece of ice and heard a sharp crack. The next second, the ice broke off and she lost her footing.
“Help,” she screamed as she fell on the ice and began hurtling down the slope. She tried to grab something to stop her fall, but in her panic she couldn’t find the rope that tethered her to the rest of her team.
She could see snow and large pieces of ice hurtle down thousands of feet below. “Help,” she screamed, again flailing her arms, until her