Girl scout to go to Mars?

Guide Joanna Karczewska is an instructor in ZHP Sopot Scout Group, the captain of 20th Sopot Wanderers’ Troop, a steward in the Sopot Scout Group elder scout stewardship, and she has qualified to the third of five stages of Mars One project. This is a project of a Dutch company, which aims to colonize Mars. Already in 2020, a rover will be sent there, a remote-controlled robot with the mission to find a suitable place for setting up a whole life-supporting complex. In 2024, a crew of four volunteers will go to Mars. Joanna has a chance to be among the chosen four.


Kamil Jasiński: You are a scout, here is where we met. When has your scouting adventure began? What troops have you participated in?

Joanna Karczewska: I started years ago, in 3rd Sopot Scout Troop “Inne” – when Magda “Cieja” Cieszyńska was the troop captain. I was in the fourth form of the primary school back then. After I finished the fifth form, my patrol leaders finished school, and our contact broke – beforehand they would always tell us at school when and where the meetings would take place. In the middle school, 20th Sopot Scout Troop “Sprzysiężenie Górskiego Kamienia”, headed by Igor Antosik, took in new members. And so, in the first form, I found my way into the 20th!


K: In our scout group, we know you primarily as a creative person full of ideas. The effects show in your graphic designs, thanks to which it is easy to promote all events. What else do you do?

J: For example, I work in PMI (Project Management Institute). It is an American institution which aims to spread good practice in project management. The Polish chapter – which is the name for local, countrywide branches – is divided into sections. Our dynamic Gdańsk section organizes seminars on project management every month. It also organizes winter/summer camps – for children from underprivileged families, who want to learn English. Other than that, every year it organizes New Trends in Project Management which is a two-day conference on project management. In the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association, I work with the Promotion and Information Team of Chorągiew Gdańska Scout District. There, we handle matters related to the image of the scout district and promote it throughout the world – among the scouts, and non-scouts. We educate people in the field we work in. We just finished PR Lab in Gdynia, and we are about to start the Course for Scout Group Instructors for Communication and Promotion in Malbork. So if anyone is interested in producing various types of visual materials – graphics/photo/video, or writes, is a copywriter, or maybe deals in creating websites or social media, and wants to have a go at communicating with the environment we function in – we invite everyone to work with us.



K: In 2013, you were one of 25 people nominated to the title “Uncommon”. Was this nomination a result of extraordinary achievements in everyday scout work?

J: Exactly so.


K: Do you remember the awards gala?

J: The one where I was among the nominees was in Warsaw. I remember that there were technical problems with some of the video clips. This year’s gala was better prepared, but we have to remember that this was two years ago. So the trend is positive, the galas turn out better and better. 🙂


K: In the beginning of this scouting year you came back from London, where you had lived. Are you thinking about going back to England?

J: If I find a job there, moving back is a viable option.


K: Does the prospect of “Mars One” limit your travelling possibilities?

J: I don’t think so. Currently we are waiting for information concerning the next stage, but I don’t see why it would. If personal appearance is a part of this stage, I can always go there, and afterwards return to wherever I live, whether it’s Poland or the UK.


K: So you plan on leading your everyday life as always until the moment the teams are selected and the training starts?

J: Yes.

K: I wonder what made you submit your application? In another interview, you said that you waited with sending it until the last moment. I’m trying to find out more about your inspiration.

J: It was rather a question of what I am looking for. I’ve always wanted to have adventures, and I’ve always been drawn to places where nobody else was before. This mission seems to fit my search ideally. And why I waited? If such decision was to be taken seriously, it had to be well thought-over. That is why I reached the conclusion that I would give myself as much time as possible.



K: So there are two more stages before the final decision on whether you are going or not?

J: The final decision is up to the candidates – you can resign from the mission even one day before departure. In the end, it is a one-way trip, so the people who go have to be absolutely certain about their decision. But yes, there are two more stages between me and the title of Mars One astronaut.


K: How do you like the perspective of a one-way trip?

J : I think that this question shrewdly misses the point. You don’t go on this trip because it is one-way only, you go because it is another great leap for the human kind. For the first time in history, mankind will leave the orbit of its home planet. For the first time in history, it will find a home on another world. From that moment on, we will no longer be tied to our planet. Certainly, much time will pass before settlement on other planets becomes a wide-scale activity. A similarly large progress has been made between the first space trip or the first moon landing and the present time when we have astronauts constantly living on the orbit. No road can be travelled without making the first step.


The conversation is a reprint from Big Paper magazine created by scouts of ZHP Sopot Scout Group: