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Walking on Red Dust

Celebrations in isolated and confined environments

11 Jan 2016, 00:17 UTC
Celebrations in isolated and confined environments
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

[Version française sur le site de La Recherche]
British explorer Ernest Shackleton is considered one of the greatest leaders of the XXth century, notably for bringing back all his crewmates from the ices of Antarctica after the failure of the Endurance expedition. He managed to preserve hope and the willingness to keep fighting within a crew stranded on ice for months, and that conditions were leading to an almost-certain death. Among the peculiarities of Shackleton’s leadership style: even in the worst situations, he had his crew celebrate traditional holidays.
This can be mistaken for a detail. But studies carried on since then show that in an isolated and confined environment, be it a polar base or a space station, celebrating holidays makes a difference. It breaks monotony, helps keeping a sense of time, and improves the crew’s relationships and mood.
That is why here, at HI-SEAS, some of us insist that holidays are celebrated. Having all six crewmembers on-board can be more difficult than one would expect: our workload do not let us take a single day off, the “guests” are always the same, and we don’t have access to traditional food items. But it is worth the effort.
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