February 16th, 2018

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego 54°48′26″S 68°18′16″O

I would have liked sleeping a little bit longer. I shirked, hiding underneath my sheets. But I knew that if I stayed in bed I wouldn’t have time to have breakfast not to call home. Lectures started at 8.30. I could not help myself, and I had to sit in the first table, right by the speaker.  An old bad habit from school days that kept on tormenting me.

The first one speaking was a Kit. She was taller, thinner and blonder she seemed in the calls. Its short hair and its glasses gave her an executive touch that her super tight metal blue dress confirmed. Nice, but stiff, she was sending a somehow contradictory message, leaving us with an confuse feeling about her. She explained us the dynamics of the day and passed on to a happy and sparkling Karen. She was walking around using surprisingly gracefully a Madonna like microphone. Two pet phrases were getting across her speech. A soft ahhhh and a somewhat annoying hiss. After a little bit my brain stopped being mean and picky and could concentrate on the message she was delivering outstandingly.

During that morning we worked in groups, discussing what means to have a conversation and what is more important how to have a successful one. I have to admit that my skepticism was growing. Conscious of it, I decided to appease the critic (orc) living inside my head and enjoy what the morning would bring. The most exciting topic arose just before lunch when they taught us to give and receive feedback, this alone would make a great blog entry. That’s when I met Jill and Xuehua. Jill, was a little higher than I, she wore her hair in a fair-haired pigtail and she had a somehow forced body possition. When I discovered that she was a veterinary in the American army reserve I could not avoid to think: What does this lady do here? No longer after I thought that I would discover how wrong I was and how my stupid prejudices were getting in the way of meeting someone that shared something important with me. The idea and eaim to construct alternatives to a world with an absent-minded sustainability. Xuehua, has different. She had black, long and smooth hair. She seemed shy but curious, like a squirrel in the middle of the forest. That squirrel turned out to be a proffessor in environmental politics and climate change in the University of Sichuan.

We keep on working on giving feedback and having meaningful conversations after lunch. Sarah made herself invisible. She had reserved herself a silent corner from which she could observe us with brilliant eyes. Fabian, HB founder, asked us to work for couples with someone with whom we had not worked earlier. I walked around the table, stood in front of her and asked her:

– Would you like to team up with me?

Sure! – It was the first time that I saw its brave smile. I like Sarah, I thought.

– Tell me: What do you do?

– I am a pediatrician, I investigate the factors that determine the children malnutrition and what are more effective ways of fighting it. – Sher description was much longer and detailed. But for the time being this should do.

She told me that during the last ten years he had visited, and lived, in most of the countries of Middle East and southern Asia. Now, she was a little tired bit tired of her nomadic life and was ready to settle down. When I heard it I wondered if I in some moment would like to settle donw, and if when I wanted, it would be able to do it. She asked me to what I was devoting myself and the impostor syndrome of slapped me again … I study gulls, I started. But some work done during the whole year kicked my tongue and I explained her how relevant are the population models I build to protect the biodiversity in the face of climate change. Well done miss, I’m proud of you- I greeted myself internally.

Kit interrupted our conversation and passed on to Marshall. A man of approximately 60 years, bald and with an slightly weight excess or a slightly small t-shirt.

– Look for a nice place to work individually.  I want you to answer the following questions – I decided to do it on the go and not write them down.

– Why are you in Homeward Bound?

– Because I believe in its vision, I believe that it is important to empower women in science and include them in the decision making processes worldwide to improve our ability to solve complex problems such as climate change.

– What do you expect to get?

– Be a better version of myself and drive scientific knowledge to a better position to inform policy makers.

– Why is it important for you?

– Because I want to contribute to the construction of a more respectful and more sustainable society.

– There you go! – I thought.

– Also, I want that you use these letters and which are your values. You need to choose 10 for each of the dimensions of the strategic plan: Relations, work and self. Then, you need to arrange them from least to most important. The room filled with a rough murmur.

– Seriously? – My sceptical orc woke up again together with my greedy belly. But for the first time in the whole day it would have a moment to be alone and to do whatever I wanted. I looked for a corner in the room and started arranging my values. It took me more time to extend and place the cards in the ground than to choose and arrange them. What really stroke me after a while was how some of the women were struggling to find and short their values. Maybe, doing the exercise it was actually necessary.