The Motivation to Explore

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.”

~ John Hope Franklin

Kuwait-Maryam-Al-Joaan-AntarticaThe wrangling over power continues in many parts of the Middle East as protestors in places like Libya and Kuwait once again hit the streets this week to demand greater say in the running of their own countries. A simple glance at any newspaper in the Middle East shows blanket coverage of the protests and little else. The rest of the news is primarily pushed aside in favor of the ongoing fight for power, wealth and political freedom.

For one Kuwaiti explorer, however, her sights are set firmly on making new discoveries in the world instead of the tussles for political gain and reforms in her own country. Her name is Maryam Al-Joaan and she is a budding oceanographer. In her most recent adventure, Maryam had the once in a lifetime opportunity to explore Antarctica. In a trip sponsored by the Kuwait Science Club, Maryam is the first Kuwaiti to ever explore the world’s coldest continent.

Over the course of two weeks, Maryam explored the crystal clear blue waters of Antarctica via the decks of the Zodiac exploration ship. As the ship made it’s way in between icebergs and floating chunks of ice, Maryam was in awe of the beauty that surrounded her. “I felt I was on a completely different planet. I also felt so small in comparison to the colossally big world we live in, I never felt that way when I lived in cities,” she shared in a recent interview.

Maryam’s focus for the expedition was to study the effects of the southern oceans of Antartica on global warming, as they already soak up an estimated 15% of human generated carbon dioxide (CO2) per annum. According to Maryam, “It is important to understand the process as phytoplanktons absorb the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, slowing down global warming.”

Forever changed by her journey to Antarctica, Maryam has vowed to keep her quest for exploration burning bright. As she continues to complete her education in Germany Maryam hopes to one day benefit her home country of Kuwait with all that she has learned. Maryam also hopes to inspire other students around the globe to get motivated to learn more about the world we live in.


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