Meet Our Students: Trevor Wallace ’13

by Katharine Reece MFA '12

As a first-year student, Trevor Wallace ’13 travelled to Antarctica for two weeks during winter break with an organization called Students on Ice. His mission: to make a documentary on environmental conservation for his "Experimental Film" class. He has since shown The Compass Points South at the Explorer’s Club in Manhattan, the Sarah Lawrence Film Festival, and the Museum of Natural History.

SLC: Tell us about your trip.
TW: We spent most of our time on the ship and going on landings on the Antarctica Peninsula. There were 25 scientists, photographers, polar historians, and artists on the ship, and they gave lectures and workshops. There was a group of older men that I really connected with who had worked for the British Antarctic Survey and said things like, “When boats were made of wood, men were made of iron.” We passed mountain ranges that were named after them.

SLC: What kinds of animals did you see?
TW: We saw wandering albatross, which have the longest wingspan of any bird; a bunch of species of whales; and lots of penguins. There are very strict laws about approaching penguins, but they can approach you, and because they don’t have any natural predators that are physiologically similar to humans, they’re not afraid of you. They came up and pecked our boots and checked us out. I got some great footage by leaving my camera out and just standing by them.

SLC: What was one of your most memorable moments?
: During a hike on a glacier, I separated from the group, laid on my back and closed my eyes, and heard this pitterpatter of webbed feet on the ice. I stretched my hands out with my eyes closed and I could feel a slippery, oily, feathery penguin’s tummy. When I opened my eyes, there was this gentoo penguin looking at me. A Swedish researcher was watching me from afar and told me later that skuas, these large scavenger birds, had been coming close to me, thinking I was dead, and the penguin came and scared them away.

SLC: Was it hard to come home?
TW: Definitely. I also did some absurd things like run around in shorts in the winter in Boston because I felt so acclimated to the cold.

The Compass Points South, by Trevor Wallace '13