At home - those left behind

The ship Aurora Australis leaves Hobart, with expeditioners waving goodbye from the back deck.
The Aurora Australis leaves Hobart (Photo: Wayne Papps)
Black and white photo of the docks crowded with people waving off Douglas Mawson on the  ship Aurora.

There are many situations in which family members and friends are separated (e.g. war, oil rigs, navy, divorce, boarding school).

  • Ask the students to think of examples of other situations in which family members are separated. Then divide them into groups and have them discuss the following questions:
    • How do you think you would feel if your father or mother went away to the Antarctic for four months? For twelve months?
    • What are the advantages and disadvantages for the person going to Antarctica? Or for the family member or loved one left behind?
    • What are some strategies that would minimise the problems associated with separation?
    • Do you think it is harder for the person who goes or those who stay? (This is a good issue to debate.)
    • Should it be a family decision? What if it is the lifelong dream of the person going, but their family don't want them to go? Students could role-play a discussion/announcement of the intention to go to Antarctica. Set it around the dinner table and assign roles to each student.

Information to help with these discussions can be found in the Antarctic separation booklet [PDF].

  • Write a letter home as an expeditioner, or write a letter to a loved one in Antarctica
    • with good news
    • with bad news.

Issue - Living in Isolation

  • Living in isolation sometimes puts almost unbearable demands on people. Do you think that, for the good of the station community, individuals with particular family responsibilities should be excluded? (For example the British used to select only single men.)
  • Or if research shows that unfettered communication adversely affects expeditioners' abilities to function at their best (e.g. they try to help solve family problems from down there), should communication be limited? What do you think of the idea of interviewing families as well as expeditioner applicants?
This page was last modified on January 23, 2014.