Back to School (Room 201 Only)

"I'm seeing a lot of things I never thought I would."
Back to
by Doug Smith

It was a gorgeous late spring afternoon on the pretty, tree-lined campus 
of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The meeting place 
bounded by the student union, a bookstore, a dining hall and the 
undergraduate library were all bustling with activity. 
     In the middle of it all, completely anonymous to the hundreds who 
parade across campus, there was a guy who looked like any other typical 
student. He had the dress-- sunglasses, shorts, T-shirt, sneakers and a 
cap worn backward; and he had the books, backpack and homework 
       But he was far from the typical college student picking up a couple 
of extra credits in the first summer semester. It was Vince Carter, NBA 
All-Star, sports hero to millions and one of the last guys one would 
expect to be filling five hours a day with biology classes and labs.
        The 23-year-old superstar, just like other students, was taking 
abreak from classes and labs that kept him busy for eight weeks as he 
pursued a degree in African-American studies during the summer of 2000.

Superstar slam dunker at night, student by day--Vince Carter does it all

      "I come here because it's quiet, I feel comfortable here, and it's a 
bonus that you can just come to school and be yourself," he said. "I'm 
just like any other North Carolina student and it's fun." 
      The fact that he spent a good chunk of his off-season studying 
speaks volumes about the well-rounded nature of Carter's personality and 
his commitment to finishing something that he started. 
      Carter completed his degree to honour a promise he made to his mom. 
When he first accepted a scholarship to North Carolina, he signed a 
contract with his room promising that he'd get his degree. 
      After three years as a Tar Heel, Carter's basketball abilities had 
become too great for the college game, and if he was going to continue to 
be challenged athletically, it would have to be at the professional level. 
But he knew that after he left college there would have to be other things 
in his life besides basketball.
      That's one thing that his mom always wanted, too. For an off-season 
that's always crammed with camps, endorsement obligations and, in 2000 at 
least, the Olympics, Michelle Carter- Robinson feels her son needs to take 
time to just live a little. 
       "These kids all want to be adults and get out into the real world 
so fast, sometimes that's not all it's cracked up to be," she said. "I 
think Vince should just go back to class and be a regular kid; there will 
be all the time in the world for the rest of that stuff."
         Carter didn't return to school just to keep the promise he had 
made to his mom. He found he actually liked the idea of getting his 
college degree. He spent the off-season between his rookie and second NBA 
seasons taking classes, and after the summer of 2000, he finally had 
enough credits to graduate. He knew he would feel a huge sense of 
accomplishment putting on the cap and gown for the graduation ceremony. 
        "I'm here for me," he said after he went back to school. "I 
promised my mom I'd do it, but now it's something I want to do. I'm 
excited about it." 
         Going back to school also gave him a chance to be a regular guy, 
and Carter appreciated the privacy. 
         "I think I've only signed two autographs since I got here," he 
said while at North Carolina for summer classes. "I think people think, 
hey, I'm here trying to graduate and I think maybe they see it as a 
positive thing. A couple of people in class were telling me to keep 
studying, giving me an idea of  What the class was like. It's nice to be a 
little bit normal." 
          Trying to be normal was one big reason Carter decided to take 
summer classes. He gets enough of the royal treatment every day of the NBA 
season and went back to school when there would be fewer students on 
campus. "
        The first day, everyone was, like, 'There's Vince, there's 
Vince,'" said Joe Giddens, who is still Carter's best friend and joined 
Vince at UNC to give his buddy a close friend to hang around with. "I 
think even the teacher was excited. But we just sat in the back and no one 
bothered us."

Vince went back to school between his rookie and sophomore seasons so that 
he could experience being a "regular guy" again.

         Carter also decided to go back to school so he could provide a 
true, firsthand message when he talks to teenagers. In the speeches he 
gives at public appearances during the basketball season, Carter likes to 
point out the need for a good education, and now his audience can see that 
he practices what he preaches. 
         "I talk to a lot of kids and that's one message I'm most proud 
of," he said. "I can tell them how important school is, and then they see 
me going back to get my degree. For me to do it is important. In middle 
school or in high school, you don't think about school too much, or a 
degree. This is a way of showing them how important it is to me. And when 
I'm done playing basketball, I'll have a degree maybe I can use." Although 
he doesn't intend to give up basketball for a teaching career or anything 
else, he said the most important aspect of getting his degree was the 
sense of accomplishment it brought.
           Although he was a busy student, Carter always found time to get 
into the gym a couple of nights each week to scrimmage with the members of 
the university's team who stuck around for summer school, along with the 
other NBA players who would drop by. 
          But more than anything, classes provide an interesting change 
from his usual NBA life. For example, in one of his courses he had a 
biology lab that studied insects and butterflies, then a couple of weeks 
later he took part in the dissection of a pig. Those are not things many 
NBA players are familiar with. "You might see anything in those classes," 
he said. "I'm seeing a lot of things I never thought I would."

The Future Calls
So where does Vince Carter go from here? How good can he become? How much 
more popular can he get? As Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said, Carter has 
the chance to be one of the best players in the long history of the NBA if 
he dedicates himself to continued improvement. But it's not as if Carter 
needs someone to tell him that. He knows better than anyone that nothing 
good comes from resting on past success. If you don't get better, you get 
left behind. And there's always someone on the horizon to challenge you.

As he scrambled upwards, the beast behind him,
Danid felt his leg being jerked back.


by Marcel G. Gagne.

Fascinated, Daniel followed his grandmother's old fingers while they 
deftly wove magic in their mathematical dance. Wrinkled folds of skin, 
draped almost casually over her old bones, moved in ways that mocked his 
young, but clumsy, fingers. Every motion was elegant choreography, each 
fold an artful rendition of an exact science. Two days of insistence had 
finally convinced her to share her secrets. This was the initiation. Her 
price was his rapt attention. 
     Displays of her handiwork were everywhere. A veritable menagerie of 
birds, fish, flowers, and even entire scenes spread throughout the house. 
One shelf displayed a barnyard diorama complete with pigs, horses, 
chickens, and a farmer watching over them all. On another shelf, she had 
gathered a full orchestra. Before the assembled musicians, the black-clad 
conductor stood on a podium, his baton held high. Other objects were 
strictly decorative: strange boxes and shapes of various colours. She, 
herself, wore a pair of earrings from which dangled two identical deep-
purple birds. 
       This week of forced confinement with his grandmother was turning 
out to be interesting after all. Daniel could almost forgive his parents 
for abandoning him while they took a holiday on their own. 
        The paper opened briefly and collapsed again under her fingers as 
she worked the crease to a point that had not existed before. "That's 
called a petal fold," she said. "This point could just as easily be one of 
the bird's wings as its head and tail. In a more difficult design, it 
could become the head and tail of a dinosaur."
         A smile of wonder crossed Daniel's lips. "Yeah!" he breathed. The 
lumbering crash of a great beast sounded in his imagination, the mental 
camera panning up and down to catch the terrible gaze of the prehistoric 
monster. Heart-pounding background music accompanied its ear-splitting 
        "Will you do the dinosaur, Grandma? Please."
        "That's a little bit harder than what we're working on here. You 
have to walk before you can run," she said. 
          His smile turned to a frown. "Aw, c'mon, Lorraine!" he ventured. 
          Lorraine put the model down and pierced Daniel's eyes with her 
"What did you call me?" The old woman held a great deal of power in those 
eyes. Daniel shrank beneath the steady gaze. 
         "That's what Dad calls you," he explained. 
          “Your father is thirty years older than you are. When you get to 
be forty, then you can call me Lorraine, but right this minute, I am 
Grandma to you. Understand?"
            Daniel nodded wordlessly. 
            "Now, where were we?" She carefully picked up the paper model.
            "We were going to build a dinosaur," Daniel attempted. 
             She gave a small laugh. "Nice try, but first things first. 
This particular fold will become the classic Japanese crane."
         "But a bird is so boring. A dinosaur at least looks like it could 
do something."  
         "Birds look like they can fly. That's something, too. Let's 
finish this and then you can tell me if it was boring. Until then, 
         She finished one side, turned the model over and stopped halfway 
through what she called a kite fold. She looked at him and smiled. "you 
try it."
          Daniel shook his head, an uncertain smile crossing his lips. 
"No, I couldn't do it like you do." 
          She took his hands and directed them to the folded paper. "Yes, 
you can. Just follow the pictures in the book," she said, tapping the open 
volume on the table before her. The book was at least three inches thick 
and contained thousands of step-by-step diagrams of hundreds of paper 
creations. Daniel ran his fingers over the paper. The multicoloured sheet 
had a clothlike texture. He   smiled, and looked up. "It feels neat.
              “A friend who taught me, as I am teaching  you, sent them to 
me." She touched the package and a faraway look entered her eyes. “ These 
are special papers. Very special.” 
             “What makes them so special?"
               She reached out to touch his chest with her index finger. 
"They echo whatever is in your heart. That is why your heart must be 
filled only with good thoughts and beautiful things. Honi soit qui mal y 
pense." The finger moved to his head. "Remember that."
               Daniel looked puzzled. "Remember what?"
              "Evil be to him who evil thinks. King Edward third of 
England said that a long time ago when he felt a lady in his court was 
being insulted.
              " With a shrug of his shoulders Daniel let the quiet wisdom 
slip away. He played with the paper, looking back and forth between it and 
the pictures in the book, then pushed it away with a sigh.
              "You better do it, Grandma. I'll try after you finish this 
               With a disappointed shake of her head, she quickly finished 
the last folds. The head and tail came down, then a squash fold of the 
centre point held the wings in place. "There." She held the bird up to the 
boy's eyes and turned it over in her hands.
              " Grandma smiled. "See how easy it is? Like magic."
In a blur of sight and sound, the paper bird in her hands was transformed 
into a brightly coloured beating of real wings that quickly took to the 
air. The bird grew larger and larger as it rose to the cathedral ceiling, 
whereupon it disappeared as though it had simply passed through an open 
                "Grandma!" the boy shouted. "How did you do that?"
                  She laid the book down in front of him and passed him a  
package of square papers of various flat colours. "Everything you need to 
know is there. Just ....   follow the steps... She waved a hand over the 
line drawings, "... and you'll make your own bird just as I did." 
                  “Will it fly like yours did?" 
                  She gave him a quizzical look. "Fly? Humph. Only in your 
imagination..." She paused, "... which is more than enough." She rose to 
her feet and started to turn away. "I've got things to do now. Practice 
that one just as I showed you, then we'll work on something more 
                 "But it flew away! You saw it!" he protested.
                 "I did?" She smiled, her eyes twinkling. "I'll check   
your work later.”
                  She turned and headed up the stairs, taking her cloth 
paper sheets with her.

Daniel's first attempts were disastrous. The results of his effort 
resembled badly folded road maps and not graceful birds, but he was 
determined to achieve the magic he had witnessed with his own eyes. After 
two and a half hours of folding and throwing away failed experiments, he 
managed a respectable imitation of his grandmother's crane.

He tossed the bird into the air and watched it tumble ignominiously back 
to the floor, never having beat a single wing, not even in Daniel's 
imagination. He picked up the bright pink creation and repeated the 
experiment. Again it failed. He looked closely at the model. It was pretty 
shabby. He sighed and began again. 
          When he finished there were seven birds arrayed on the table. 
The last, a black bird, was a masterpiece of sharp lines and perfect 
detail. Proudly holding up the model, he tossed it into the air--and 
watched it tumble to the ground, just like the others.
           He scowled and stared, grimly determined to figure out what the 
difference was between his creation and his grandmother's. He had followed 
the instructions step-by-step, and his black beauty was perfect in every 
          He left the rainbow flock lined up on the table and went to 
fetch his grandmother. It was time to ask her why his bird wouldn't fly. 
Besides, he needed her to tell him how well he'd done. 
           He could see through the double glass doors that she was in her 
back garden, planting some purple flowers. His hand was on the door when 
his memory filled in the missing piece of the puzzle. The cloth papers! 
Quickly, quietly, he stepped back from the door and ran upstairs to 
Grandma's room. 
            The tension was almost more than he could bear. The package of 
cloth paper was not sitting out in full view as he had hoped. He had 
searched through all but two of her dresser drawers before he located it 
hidden under a liner that smelled of roses.

His heart was racing by the time he had completed the bird base. "From 
here," he recited silently, 'you can make a bird or a...
           " Yes. Excitement replaced his guilty panic. He picked up the 
book and searched the pages for the right diagram. There were several 
dinosaurs, but they were small and insignificant. He turned one last page. 
There it was, standing on its hind legs with two little arms up in front. 
A real dinosaur! He couldn't pronounce its name. He would have preferred a 
Tyrannosaurus Rex, but this looked enough like one. The others reminded 
him more of lizards than the terrible beasts of his imagination. Real 
dinosaurs were fierce, frightening creatures that tore through flesh with 
razor-sharp teeth. The others were just vegetarians.
           "Begin with a bird base," the instructions read. He had a bird 
base. He was ready. 
            Each fold that followed was increasingly difficult but, with a 
perseverance born of a real goal, he pushed on, doing and redoing folds as 
needed. This project was a whole lot more interesting than a stupid bird. 
           When, at last, he sat the finished figure proudly in front of 
him, it took only the sound of the table Cracking under its rapidly 
increasing weight for him to understand that he had made a terrible 

By the time the creature stood at what he could only hope was its final 
height, Daniel was running for the stairs up to the bedrooms. Nearly ten 
feet tall and full of primal fury, the young dinosaur was everything he 
had hoped for. And he remembered it was a carnivore.  
          Maybe it's not hungry, he told himself weakly. 
         The beast snarled and growled as it sensed his presence. The tail 
swung about and collapsed what remained of the table, sending the chairs 
crashing across the room. 
          From the stairs, Daniel could see his grandmother running back 
towards the house. The crash of table and chairs had not gone unheard. As 
he scrambled upwards, the beast behind him, Daniel felt his leg being 
jerked back. He screamed and looked over his shoulder. The deadly teeth 
had pierced his jeans. The monster bashed his leg repeatedly against the 
stairs, shaking its head furiously in an effort to get rid of the fabric 
caught in its teeth. Daniel screamed again, this time in pain. Then his 
jeans tore and his leg was free. He scrambled out of reach of the vicious 
teeth just as his grandmother entered the room. 
           “What in the world is going on here?" she gasped. 
           She was answered with a growl.
           "My God, Daniel! What have you done?" 
            At the sound of her voice, the dinosaur turned its leathery 
head with lightning speed to face her. For a moment Daniel was forgotten.
             She moved back slowly, calculating her odds of beating the 
dinosaur to the back door.
              Daniel suddenly realized exactly what he had done. She's 
going to be eaten, he thought. And it's my fault. 
             He tore off his shoe and threw it at the beast's head. The 
creature stopped suddenly, momentarily confused, then looked up towards 
the source of the missile. 
            "No!" Grandma shouted. "Daniel, don't!"
             Daniel wasn't listening. He hurled his second shoe. This time 
the animal swung around fully, its tail catching the old woman and sending 
her crashing among the debris of her dining-room furniture. \ She lay 
motionless, while the monster turned its attention back to the boy. This 
time Daniel didn't run. He sat at the top of the stairs, looking in horror 
at his grandmother, motionless on the floor below. 
             The dinosaur moved slowly. Its prey wasn't running away. Size 
and strength were obviously on its side, but it seemed suddenly wary. 
Daniel crouched on the stairs, waiting for the end. Perhaps his 
grandmother would forgive him when she saw him again in heaven. But then 
panic washed over him. Heaven? He'd been really bad, hadn't he? Likely, he 
would wind up in a very different place than she would. 
              Something stirred from within the debris. 
              " The boy turned, startled. Confused, the beast also turned 
towards the sound. 
               Grandma was fumbling with her earrings, taking off each one 
in turn. She carefully tore the hooks from the backs of the twin birds and 
threw both into the air. Upon leaving her hand, the birds breathed life 
and took on an olive-brown colour. By the time they had reached the 
dinosaur and began screaming and tearing at the animal's eyes and face, 
they had grown nearly a foot in length. 

          A great roar shook the house as the deadly carnivore tried to 
shake off its attackers. Grandma rose painfully to her feet and carefully 
approached the screaming, thrashing beast. Her hands wove mysteriously 
over the animal's skin and, seconds later, she was holding a harmless 
model of the dinosaur. The birds, a pair of mourning doves, alighted on 
the banister and stayed there, cooing softly. Meanwhile, she quickly and 
deftly unfolded Daniel's creation. 
          "You did good work, Daniel, but I told you to work on birds, not 
dinosaurs. Furthermore, you did not use the paper I gave you and, worst of 
all, you went snooping in my room." 
           Daniel began to cry. "I'm sorry, Grandma. I almost got you 
killed." "Not to mention yourself." She was surprisingly calm. "You forgot 
the king's lesson, and you did not follow mine. I warned you that your 
heart must be filled with good thoughts."
           She walked over to where the boy still sat on the steps and 
bent down to hug him. She didn't seem old or frail anymore. 
           "I really am sorry," he sobbed.
           ''Yes, I'm sure you are. The question now is, how will you pay 
for the damage you have caused and the trouble you've made for me?" 
           "I'll work," he said through tears. "I'll get a job and..." His 
plans for repayment were lost in a flood of tears.
           "Oh, stop this nonsense," Grandma said briskly. She got to her 
feet, picked her way through the debris of her former dining room and 
retrieved the origami book from the rubble. When she returned, she flipped 
quickly through the pages until she found what she was looking for. "I 
still have some gardening to do out there, and you have a mess to clean 
up. Once you've got this room back in order, I want you to work on these." 
She pointed to the diagrams on the page. 
             Daniel sniffed and wiped his eyes. The words he read forced 
him to look around the house once more and wonder.
             "Table and six chairs," the heading read.

The rat is one of those creatures we love to hate.


Rates:    The Folklore and the Facts

by John Russell

They fought the dogs and killed the cats, 
And bit the babies in their cradles,
 And ate the cheeses out of vats, 
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles.
From "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
 by Robert Browning

In his famous poem about the Pied Piper legend, Robert Browning paints a 
chilling picture of a town infested with evil, vicious rats. It is a 
common way of portraying these rodents, and one that most people would 
agree with. The rat is one of those creatures we love to hate.
          It's an odd fact that some animals can terrify us with their 
ferocity and strength, yet we still admire and respect them. The lion is a 
good example. People have always thought of this killer cat as proud, 
brave, and beautiful. In fact, we have dubbed the male lion "King of 
          But there are other animals and insects, such as snakes, 
spiders, and bats, that have always made people shudder at the very 
mention of their names. The poor rat is one of these--an outcast, hunted 
and despised by human beings throughout history. 
          It is becoming clear that some of the animals people loathe have 
been treated unfairly. The wolf is an example. Since the publication of 
Farley Mowat's book, Never Cry Wolf, many people have slowly changed their 
attitudes. They no longer hasten to brand the wolf as a senseless killer. 
And as for bats, scientists have confirmed that they do far more good in 
our world than harm, by eating millions of mosquitoes and other insect 
pests. (It's only in movies that a bat can turn into Count Dracula at 
          So, what about the rat? Does he deserve his horrible reputation? 
Let's look at some facts about rats, and you can make up your own mind.

 There is no question that rats have been a menace to health and property 
since they arrived in Europe in the eleventh century, brought back as 
uninvited guests on ships from the Orient. The first rats in Europe were 
confined to ships and dockyards, but they quickly spread to cities and 
then to the countryside in search of food. The rat's migration to North 
America came with the arrival of the first settlers' ships in the 1600s. 
Naturally, the hairy rodents soon began travelling west across our 
continent with wagon trains. In fact, nowadays rats are found all over the 
world, and there are at least as many of them as there are of us on the 

Rats Spread Disease. 
Almost as soon as rats arrived in Europe they started causing trouble, 
mostly by spreading disease, including rabies, jaundice, and typhus. But 
the most dreadful of all the communicable diseases they spread was the 
bubonic plague. This plague was a terrible affliction that often caused 
death just twelve hours after the first symptoms appeared. In the 1300s, 
the bubonic plague came to be known in Europe as the Black Death; in one 
notable four- year period it killed 25 000 000 people, one quarter of the 
entire European population. The plague terrorized Europe, on and off, for 
the next three centuries. Indeed, the Great Plague of 1664-65 in London, 
England was finally brought under control only when most of the city was 
destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.
            It was not until much later that rats were linked to the 
spread of the dreaded plague, when it was discovered that fleas were the 
actual carriers of the plague virus. This fact was coupled with the 
knowledge that all trapped rats were infested with fleas. In short order 
the rats spread the disease-carrying insects to homes and farms, leaving 
them behind to infect the human inhabitants.
            Today, the bubonic plague has been wiped out by modern 
science. Nevertheless, it has been estimated that by spreading the plague 
rats have been responsible for more human deaths than have all the wars in 

A Menace
 The tale of rats' destructiveness does not end with control of the 
plague. Rats still eat billions of dollars' worth of stored human food 
each year, and they spoil ten times more than they eat. A single rat, for 
example, can eat 25-30 kg of grain in a year. Furthermore, they eat fresh 
eggs, fruit, vegetables, and seeds. When these types of produce are not 
readily available, rats will kill for food. Among their favourite victims 
are young chickens, ducks and pigeons, and newborn lambs. 
              Human property isn't safe, either. Rats can gnaw through 
wood, pipes, leather, and cloth. There are even verified stories of rats 
who have set fires by chewing on matches.

Nature's Survivors
 All of this evidence doesn't add up to a very attractive portrait of the 
rat. On the surface, it looks as if the popular opinion of rats is 
justified. But is there a "rat's-eye view" of the issue to balance the 
negative opinion? Is the rat forever destined to be a loathsome pest or is 
it simply one of the winners in nature's survival sweepstakes? 
               The rat can adjust to almost any new environment in a very 
short time. Its strong teeth can gnaw through the toughest material, even 
a lead pipe 5 cm thick. Rats are omnivorous, which means they can eat 
almost anything in emergencies--including their fellow rats! They are 
excellent swimmers and can stay submerged for as long as three minutes. 
They are superb climbers, too, though they can jump only about 0.6 m.
Rats are natural explorers, but generally go only 60-90 m from their 
               One reason there are so many rats is that they are fast 
breeders. Every six weeks, the adult female can have a litter of two to 
twenty babies, averaging about eight. Newborn rats are blind and helpless, 
but grow up much faster than we do. One rat year equals thirty human 
years, so that a five-month-old rat is at about the same stage of 
development as a thirteen-year-old boy or girl. They grow to their full 
size of about 23 cm in just six months. 
             Nature has given rats a fierce will to live, and this 
instinct has ensured their survival. They have very acute senses, 
especially those of touch and hearing. That's one reason you almost never 
see a rat out of captivity. They are afraid of humans, and can hear you 
coming long before you have a chance to spot them.
             Rats are loners by nature, but will band together to defend 
themselves if they are threatened. There are documented accounts of rats 
ganging up on dogs and cats that were foolish enough to attack them. They 
also migrate in hordes if they're driven from their homes by food 
shortage, fire, or flood.
             Rats can also be quite clever. One of the most common stories 
about how smart they are describes the way they steal eggs. For hundreds 
of years people have claimed that a rat will clutch an egg with all four 
paws, lying on its back so as not to break the egg while two or three 
others haul it away by its tail. There are even stories of rats' being 
lowered gently down steps and ladders by their friends, eggs and all. 
            As far as the rat's destructive nature is concerned, 
everything it does, it does to survive. A rat doesn't know that it does 
harm when it eats or spoils human food or chews up property. It is simply 
trying to stay alive.
            For a century or more, white rats have been indispensable 
partners in medical and scientific experiments. If it weren't for them we 
might never have found cures for innumerable diseases. White laboratory 
rats have also been helpful in studies on nutrition and in many 
experiments on how the mind and body work. Over all, the rat hasn't yet 
saved as many lives as it's taken, but it has made a major contribution to 
medical science.

Two Sides to the Story
 Before you come to a final judgment on rats, remember that they don't try 
to kill us, but we certainly try to kill them. With traps and poison, by 
driving them out of their homes and trying our best to keep them from the 
food they need, we harass them at every turn. You could say we do these 
things to protect ourselves. But before 1900 it was a common "sport" for 
men to train dogs as rat-killers. The dogs were put into pens with 
hundreds of rats, and the audience placed bets on how many rats each dog 
could kill. Which of the two--man or rat--was the loathsome creature in 
this instance? The answer is obvious. 
         So, as with many controversial issues, there are certainly two 
sides to the rat story. If you were a rat, maybe you wouldn't think human 
beings were so great, either. It all depends on your point of view.


Ice Capades
in  Antarctica

by Rachel Bakker

The chance to see tobogganing penguins, sleeping seals, and curious whales 
in Antarctica was a dream come true for an Ontario student.

After months of picturing the sights and sounds of Antarctica in my mind, 
it was hard to believe that the day--December 16--for my real-life 
adventure had finally arrived.  
          Boarding a plane in Toronto, I flew to Miami, where I joined the 
rest of the Students On Ice (SOI) group, which included students, 
chaperones, and scientists from other parts of Canada, as well as from 
Japan, Ireland, Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom. From 
there, we flew to Santiago, Chile, and then to Buenos Aires, Argentina, 
before finally landing in Ushuaia (Ush- y-ah) at the southern tip of South 
America, where our ship, captain, and crew awaited us.

All Aboard 
The M/V Polar Star (left) is absolutely huge--I've never seen anything 
like it!
           After checking into our cabins, we set sail for the Drake 
Passage, one of the roughest bodies of water in the world. With waves more 
than nine metres high and winds gusting up to 140 kilometres an hour, it 
was too dangerous to go on deck, and many of the students got seasick. 
           With our sea legs under us, we continued south while wandering 
albatrosses soared on air currents, dolphins dived along the bow, fin 
whales surfaced on the starboard side, and a pod of killer whales 
investigated our bright red hull.

•	From Toronto, it took four plane flights and two days of sailing 
to travel the more than 13,000 kilometres to Antarctica.
•	Every new animal adventure ashore started with an exciting ride 
across the waves in the Zodiacs.
•	The chilly waters of the Southern Ocean are brimming with life 
both big and small, from humpback whales to tiny crustaceans, like these 

Land Ho! 
Every day we explored the Antarctic, using inflatable boats called Zodiacs 
to travel between the ship and land. 
            In Paradise Harbour, we passed within a few metres of Weddell 
seals sunbathing on sea ice. The seals ignored us as we whispered 
excitedly and snapped photos. But a few killer whales got very friendly! 
They swam under our Zodiac, bumped the boat and sprayed us when they 
spouted their blows of water.
             And the penguins! The Antarctic Peninsula is the only place 
in the Antarctic where Adelie gentoo, and chinstrap penguins can be seen 
nesting together. We even had a chance to stand among 100,000 Adelie 
penguins in a huge colony (also known as a rookery) on Paulet Island--ugh, 
did it smell terrible!

•	Following a day of foraging for krill and a rest on the pack ice, 
Adlie penguins prepare to dive into the icy ocean depths and return to 
hungry chicks on shore.

•	Like Ad61ies, gentoo penguins share parental care: while one is 
out feeding, the other parent stays at the nest and keeps its chicks safe 
and warm.

Portable Classroom 
While sailing from place to place, we heard lectures by oceanographers, 
marine biologists, mammalogists, and historians about Antarctica's food 
web, climate, wildlife, and exploration. We also heard how scientists are 
using satellite technology to monitor icebergs in the region. 
            But the best part about the SOI classroom was that we could 
apply what we learned on our daily trips ashore. For example, we pulled up 
beside an ice floe and saw tiny krill, which swarm by the thousands and 
provide food for most of Antarctica's marine animals. And a glaciologist 
showed us how to take an ice-core sample from a glacier.

Floating Snow Cones 
There are so many icebergs in the , Antarctic that you might think we 
would get bored seeing them, but no two are alike--some are emerald-blue 
and others are concrete grey or bright white with wave patterns carved 
into their sides. 
            And what is even more amazing is that what we were seeing was 
only their tips, many of which were longer and taller than our ship, 
because more than half of each iceberg is underwater.

Christmas Antarctic-style. 
While our friends and families at home were dreaming of a white Christmas, 
we were celebrating the holiday by sledding down the glacier in Portal 
Point. We also swam in the Southern Ocean and dug a hot tub on the beach 
of Deception Island, which is a dormant volcano!

Leave Only Footprints... 
Even with 24 hours of sunlight, the days flew by, and all too soon, we 
were sailing back to South America and catching our flights for home.
Looking back, I realized how much we still have to learn about the world 
we live in and how important it is to take care of the environment. 
Antarctica may be the driest, windiest, coldest place on earth, but it is 
also one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world, and our everyday 
activities, even in Canada, can affect its climate and biodiversity.
... Bring Back Memories 
I will never, ever forget my Antarctic adventure. I just wish I could have 
packed a penguin in my suitcase---but then I remember that smell!

•	With their flippers outstretched, these chinstrap penguins look 
ready for take-off, but they're actually trying to cool down!
•	Silver-patched Weddell seals laze around warming their flippers in 
the summer sun.