Re: Next Stop Antarctica...
In the U.S. program it's very rare for anyone under 18 to go to Antarctica. In fact, I don't know if it has ever happened at all. However, this past Christmas (or pretty near to it, anyhow) there was almost a complete family at the South Pole. A father and two daughters were all there at once - the daughters were stationed there, and the father at McMurdo, but his job brought him to the South Pole a couple times during the season.
Otherwise - the sort of people who want to preserve Antarctica as a pristine wilderness do not tend to be the same sort of people who go there. This is not to say that the workers there are not conscious of the necessity of living lightly on the land and the responsibility of humans to be good stewards of the environment, but few (if any) have the quasi-religious belief common to some extremists that the continent should be left entirely untouched.
Personally, I am interested in Antarctica as a laboratory in which we can practice living in extreme conditions in preparation for going off-planet, while not being so extreme that any mistake is fatal. However, there doesn't seem to be much of that going on yet. I know that NASA has tested some equipment there, but by-and-large technology tends to be a little behind the curve there. I think there are several causes for this: (1) many of the personnel are in the Antarctic or preparing to go back so much of their time that they are not paying full attention to technological improvements elsewhere in the world, (2) there are good reasons to wait until new technologies are robust before relying overly much on them, (3) once adopted, it still takes a couple years to get anything big or heavy on site, and (4) it's run by the government. That said, some of the science is bleeding edge, so it's a kind of strange dichotomy.
But besides being a laboratory for living in space, Antarctica could also be a laboratory for living on earth in more efficient ways that are friendly to both humanity and the environment. As for intercultural understanding - the programs now are mostly governmental, and tend to represent either a single nationality or closely allied nations - though not always. All the same, I have spoken on several occasions to a man who was there from late 1958 to early 1960, and he likes to tell how a New Zealander once remarked to him, "You Americans and the Russians are all alike; both are trying to shove your forms of government down everyone else's throats." For him, this was an eye-opening moment, when he realized that not everyone viewed the world the same way. All the same, there is certainly an international aspect to many of the programs - I met Swedes, Japanese, Germans, Canadians, British, Kiwis, Australians, Dutch, and others while I was down south. Even met a few Yankees. ;-)
(An explanation for non-Americans - Yankees are inhabitants of the Northeastern USA. Participants in the U.S. Antarctic Program tend to be from the western states, though I am from the Southeast. For many Americans, Yankees are an exotic species.)