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26 June, 2000

An Eclectic Society at Camp Summit

When you are able to travel, parcticularly outside the US, you meet many interesting people. Here at Camp Summit, we have a variety of people living together. We lose all sense of privacy since we all eat together, brush our teeth together and share the same bathroom. You can imagine the conversations that arise in situations such as this. You observe different habits that people have and customs that makes life very interesting.

Although this is a US government owned camp, we have several internationals that conduct research here. I work with Nick who is from New Zealand. Yanyan is from the Peoples Republic of China (she likes to eat very spicy hot food and is a graduate students at Michigan Technical University). Hans is from Germany although he lives in Tucson Arizona now. There are the 4 Swiss fellows and their boss who is from Japan. Koni is Swiss also. What I realized most from working with these folks is how we, Americans, do not value knowing a second language. All these international folks speak, read and write in at least two other languages. What is happening to our American educational system?

The support staff at Camp Summit is a very interesting group. Most of them split their time between Greenland and Antarctica. When asked where they live in the States, many respond they are from Montana but most only spend a few weeks a year at home because they are usually stationed at one of the two poles. It becomes a life style. Between stints on the ice, they travel all over the world or visit family in the States. The big decision they have to make is whether they want to "winter over". To winter over means to stay in either Greenland for the winter (October to April) or Antarctica (April to October). One fellow from Summit, Rick, will be wintering over at Summit this year. He will be isolated with 3 others from October to April. There will be 24 hrs of darkness for at least two months during that time. His job will be to monitor some of the scientific research equipment, measure and record snow depths and maintain the camp. There will be only 1 supply flight every 6 weeks. Is this isolation or what? Rick was smart because he said that the only way we would winter over is if he had a workout room. Thus, we have our gym. The money is good but could you do it? I'm not sure I could.

The research scientists are another story. These scientists are leading researchers in the field of atmospheric chemistry. They are driven and very hard working putting in sometimes 20 hours a day. Their only breaks from research are for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These scientists are from several universities around the country. These universities include; University of New Hampshire, Michigan Technical University, University of Arizona, University of California-Irvine, and the University of Colorado-Boulder. And then, of course there is me from Central Connecticut State University and beginning in September, the University of Connecticut.

Ciao, Cathi

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