When Airbnb hosted its first sabbatical program in the Italian village of Grottole this summer, it received more than 280,000 applications. Now Airbnb is looking for five more intrepid volunteers to join a month-long scientific research expedition to Antarctica this November and December.
A joint project with the Ocean Conservancy, the Antarctic Sabbatical will give five volunteer citizen scientists—no formal qualifications necessary—a chance to spend a month conducting research alongside scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams. By collecting snow samples, the volunteers will study how far microplastics have made their way to Antarctica’s interior. The study aims to bring awareness to the far-reaching consequences humans have on one of the most remote and isolated places on Earth.
“Most people think of Antarctica as a pristine and isolated continent, but recent evidence shows that even the most remote locations are affected by plastic pollution,” Jones-Williams said in a statement. “This expedition will help us understand the pathways of microplastics to remote regions such as Antarctica and comes at a critical time to highlight our responsibility to protect our natural world.”
If the research team does discover evidence of microplastics in the interior of Antarctica, the findings could potentially influence public policy on how plastics are used and disposed of in the future.
What does the Airbnb Antarctic Sabbatical involve? The Antarctic Sabbatical will begin with an immersive two-week training course in Punta Arenas, Chile, where the five volunteers will learn about glaciology, field sampling, equipment practice, and lab work.
From there, they will fly to Antarctica to begin their 10-day mission collecting samples to be studied in the lab. By collecting and studying snow samples, they will be able to test them for foreign microfibers—or microplastics—to see how far pollution has made its way into the continent’s interior.
During their time in Antarctica, the volunteers will also get the chance to travel to the South Pole, see the Drake Icefall, and view the Charles Peak Windscoop.
The last week will be spent back in Chile analyzing the results of what was collected on the ground and working the Ocean Conservancy to teach others about how to minimize their plastic footprints on the planet.
How to apply to the Airbnb Antarctic Sabbatical
Airbnb is accepting applications for the Antarctic Sabbatical at airbnb.com/sabbatical from now until 11:59 EDT on October 8, 2019. To be eligible, applicants have to be available to travel to Chile and Antarctica for a month between November 18 and December 16, 2019. They must also answer the question “Why do you want to travel to Antarctica and what excites you about this expedition?” in 500 words or less.
Applicants must be at least 18 years or older, conversant in English, and reside in Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Dubai, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, or the United States.
The five winners will be announced on October 30, 2019.