Exploring Antarctica with Wharton Leadership Ventures – Intel Chen ’23

Why did you decide to go on a Wharton Leadership Venture?

I first heard of WLV through a friend and I was instantly attracted by the outdoors and leadership aspect of the program. Additionally, who can resist the word “Antarctica?” This is not the same Antarctica that you get by traveling on a cruise, instead, you get to actually live in Antarctica for a week.

What trip did you participate in?

I participated in the trip to Antarctica. We first travel to Punta Arenas, Chile, then we flew to Antarctica on a chartered plane.

What do you think you gained from the experience?

I learned many things from the experience. Skill-wise, I learned how to live off the grid with only the supplies we carry. This includes pitching a tent, cooking using a gas stove, and pooping in plastic bags. I also had a change in mentality. After having faced the challenge of survival, a lot of stress we perceive as college students becomes meaningless.

What was your favorite part of the program?

My favorite part of the program is the AAR, or after action review, where we squeeze 8 people in a 3-person tent and reflect on what we did that day.

What did a typical day look like for you?

In a typical day, we would wake up at around 8am, make breakfast, get dressed and collapse our tent. Then at around 10am, we depart to travel to our next camp site. We usually arrive around 5pm, then we pitch tents and begin to cook dinner. At around 9pm, we do our AAR. At around 11pm, we go to sleep.

What were some of the activities that you participated in?

We hiked, camped, watched penguins, melted ice to make water, cooked our own food.

What would you tell students considering going on a WLV?

For such a student, I would say, don’t think, just go, I can promise that it would be an excellent experience.

Because of the weather, we had to stay in Punta Arenas for 2 days before we departed, and 2 additional days in Antarctica before we flew home. However, this delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I got to know my peers, who are all junior and seniors, very well, and learned a great deal from their experience in college.

Intel Chen (M&T Class of 2023)