It took Jean-Louis Etienne an epic 63 days to single-handedly drag a sled to the North Pole. Once at the Pole he had no-one to celebrate with so he shared his achievement with his cooking stove and his sledge. Thirty odd years later he has become one of the world’s most celebrated and well respected explorers. He joined the Senior School and Year 5 in the newly refurbished Redgrave Multi-Purpose Hall this morning to share his thoughts about his lifetime of achievements and to challenge us to think about the threats to the world that we face today. You can read about his inspirational story on his website which tells you much about the man behind the legend:
As a school we have joined with wider communities in behaving in a more environmentally responsible fashion. We’ve reduced our consumption of single use plastic, we harvest rainwater, we have energy efficient lighting and we have a beehive. What Dr. Etienne made clear was that whilst such measures are good, we as a global community have far to go. We should be in no doubt that the crisis that we face today will only be solved with the application and dedication of the next generation. Young people like ours have the key to saving the planet. I suspect that, having listened to Dr. Etienne some will have been inspired to consider being part of the solution. Whilst he claimed not to be a “superman” just a person who persisted with their dream, I find it hard to believe that there are not pupils who will be thinking differently today as a consequence of having met him.
If you don’t have a chance to look at the recording of the event here are six key points from the talk:
• Passion might mean that you start a project. Perseverance is the thing that will see the project to success. So follow your idea and don’t give up.
• Expect difficulties. Few things in life come easily and if you give up because the going gets tough you should never have started in the first place.
• Cold temperatures won’t kill you. Ill winds will.
• Language is a tool. Use it to increase your knowledge. Never stop exploring.
• Don’t push your boundaries. Discover your boundaries. Find opportunities to discover how great you really are.
• Change is sometimes necessary.
In summing up his thoughts, Dr. Etienne told some older students that his experiences of fundraising for expeditions have taught him that it is normally the case that a few well-chosen words make more of an impact than many. I thought that was excellent advice so I’ll stop now.