World’s first woman who visits globe’s three extremes comes to Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – People cannot imagine how a small and slender woman with eyeglasses on her gentle face and her short hair with bangs has had such great courage and determination to become the first Hong Kong person and the first woman in the world to visit all three extremes of the Earth - the North and South Poles, and Mount Everest. That is Dr. Rebecca Lee Lok Sze, an explorer, scientist, educator, environmentalist, and photographer. She has taken advantage of art, music and movies to promote science.

Lectures, Mount Everest, fantastic time, RMIT

Dr. Rebecca Lee Lok Sze conducts a seminar with students of the British Vietnamese International School Hanoi (BIS Hanoi) on September 15 – Photo: Courtesy of organizers

Dr. Lee has arrived in Vietnam to conduct the “Into The Cold” workshop organized by the BVIS Eco-committee – a student-run organization that works on environmental issues at the school and the local community – in cooperation with the BIS Group of Schools in Hanoi and HCMC respectively on September 15-16.

The 71-year-old is here to give lectures to local students on her experiences at the Polar Regions, her research on global warming, and issues of environmental protection.

“The future belongs to the young people and it is through education that these young people can become involved and take the planet earth to a better one. It is also the younger generation without knowledge of global warming and the conservation of water that destroy the earth,” said the explorer who has visited the Arctic ten times, Antarctica eight times, and Everest four times.

She told the Daily in an interview by email that it is very important to begin educating the younger generation on both how to conserve the energy, protect the environment and reduce the impact of global warming so that the whole population can see the impact of our destruction and wastage here that affect the three poles and they in turn impact our lives and livelihood.

Dr. Lee also wants to communicate the important message of the characteristics and qualities that are prerequisites of scientists to those aspiring to be scientists.

The third point is to share and teach the people how best they can make the best use of their lives. She divides a person’s life into four 20 years that there are specific actions and achievements that must be accomplished so that the dreams can come true.

That each and every one of us in this part of the world must know that our actions in the equatorial and tropical region can affect and impact the life of those in the poles which in turn affect our lives in the tropical and equatorial regions.

She also wants the general publics and parents to know how important it is for the parents to support their children in pursuing their dreams to be scientists. At the corporate level, she sees that there is a lot more financial and non-financial support they can give to the foundations, NGOs to empower them to disseminate the message of environmental protection.

Asked how to become a Poles’ explorer like her, Dr. Lee said: “The first criteria to become an explorer is to become physically fit and it is very important for the young people to get involved in sports and train up the physical body. The next point is to always learn the basic first.”

She believes that the mastery of the foundational knowledge is absolutely crucial to enable a person to do further research. Therefore, the dedication to learning the key information at high school is the core. “Be passionate in what you do, never give up when faced with adversity and be courageous to face the challenges,” she added.

The divorced mother of two had run a successful graphic design business to design the iconic logos for China Power and Light Company, and working on Cathay Pacific’s in-flight magazine for 10 years. She was a graduate of the Hong Kong Technical College (which is now known as the Hong Kong Polytechnic University) in 1964, at the age of 19 with a Certificate in Commercial Design.

When she visited the Antarctic for the first time in 1985 on a business trip, she was intrigued by the polar environment. By 1990, she decided to shed her corporate skin and become a full-time explorer and environmentalist.

Since November 1985, Dr. Lee has been involved in China’s Polar expeditions. She joined China’s Seventh Antarctic Expedition, which lasted from December 1990 to March 1991.

Consequently, she had to sell her two properties she purchased in Hong Kong with the money she earned from designing two famous company logos during her graphic designing days. In the end, she also had to sell her business to finance her trips to the ‘three poles’. Many thought she was foolish to give up everything to go on the expeditions, but she said, “I was thrilled every time I visited those places and helped the mainland scientists with their research.”

She added, “I don’t have much money now, but I feel happy because I have fulfilled my lifetime dream. What is the point of keeping all the property and savings if I have to miss out on the best parts of life, such as traveling to the three poles?”

She also shared with the Daily her near-death experience when a boulder tumbled from a mountain during her Everest region trip in 1992. Luckily a tree caught the boulder before it hit her, saving her life. At that moment, Lee thought she was going to die.

She has had great contributions to polar exploration by publishing over ten books, creating teaching materials for schools, giving talks to school children and displaying photos she captured during her travels. Her focuses have been also on educating young people of Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China about the environment, in hopes of fueling interest in a career in the environment and become an “earth doctor”.

In recent years, she has been making efforts to raise funds for the China Polar Museum Foundation that she started in 1997. The foundation aims to advocate the construction of a polar museum in Hong Kong to raise awareness of how the ‘three poles’ are associated in assessing climate change and how our daily lives impact the environment. Moreover, she strives to promote interest in environmental science and polar scientific research.

The museum would display the data and specimens she and her China Antarctic Expedition team collected from the three poles, including more than 10,000 photos, stones, penguin eggs, fossils, plants and data. Dr. Lee is trying her best to call on benefactors to raise funds for the museum project as people haven’t yet seen the immediate benefits that can be gained from building the museum.

Her upcoming plans are also to share her experience and spread the words through lectures, training and education of the younger generation via lectures and multi media.

Hong Kong Scottish team wins 1st Saigon Int’l Rugby 10 tournament

The Hong Kong Scottish team gained victory at the inaugural Saigon International Rugby 10’s Tournament last week in HCMC’s District 7.

The runners-up were Australian Classic Buffalos team with a final score of 19-7. The event was held by the Al Fresco’s Group with the Resident hosting club of Saigon -The Saigon Geckos Rugby at RMIT.

This year’s competition attracted eight teams and 122 players from many different countries and regions such as Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Besides, spectators had a chance to see some former Australian Rugby Union internationals, Damian Smith and Garrick Morgan, play the game.

The free-entrance event attracted a large number of foreigners living in the city to enjoy activities for families and children.

According to the event’s host and sponsor The Al Fresco’s Group, this was the start of a new chapter for rugby in Saigon to put Saigon firmly on the map as a destination in Asia to play rugby and have a fantastic time doing it.

Lectures, Mount Everest, fantastic time, RMIT