Tales of the Huskie Spirit: Master Storyteller Rob Caskie's U.S. Debut at NIU 
By Lia Kizilbash Gillet

Rob Caskie has traveled the globe and his next stop is NIU for three unforgettable speaking engagements.

Storytelling is a remarkable tool to bridge gaps between generations, ignite our imaginations, connect us to the past and inspire our future. Few storytellers harness their craft with the mastery of Rob Caskie, a renowned narrator from South Africa with 24 years of professional experience in storytelling.

Caskie will showcase his talent during an NIU speaking tour, presenting to alumni and friends on Wednesday, March 6, from 5-7 p.m. at NIU Naperville and Thursday, March 7, from 5-7 p.m. at the Barsema Alumna and Visitors Center in DeKalb. Also included in his visit will be an event for NIU students focused on the art of successful storytelling on Thursday, March 7, from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Music Building Recital Hall. Admission for all events is free. 

NIU alumni and friends will experience Caskie's vivid recounting of the extraordinary saga of renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton and his Antarctic expedition, widely regarded as one of the greatest survival and leadership stories of all time. The historical accounts of Shackleton's courage tell human stories relatable to all ages and backgrounds and embody the NIU Huskie Spirit of grit and perseverance. These stories of endurance, determination and triumphs provide valuable lessons in leadership and teamwork. They also instill courage and motivate individuals who face their own challenges in today's world.

Attempting to cross Antarctica from west to east via the South Pole in pursuit of conquering the Antarctic wilderness, Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, became trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea in January 1915. The ship eventually got crushed, leaving 28 men and 57 dogs stranded on the sea ice. Caskie will capture Shackleton’s story of survival and calculated leadership, revealing lessons from Shackleton’s bold actions and his ability to effectively manage humans through a crisis. “The relevance of these stories emerges from the powerful lessons which are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago,” said Caskie.

NIU students will discover Caskie’s formula for telling a successful story, learn the key factors Caskie says are required in successful storytelling, and hear how he built his career out of storytelling and adventure travel. 

“Storytelling may seem like an old-fashioned tool today, and it is.
That’s exactly what makes it so powerful.”


Inspired by the human spirit and the human response when things go wrong, Caskie has embarked on many adventures. Initially a photographic safari guide and wildlife filmmaker, he explored Botswana’s Okavango Delta. He was the official photographer on Kingsley Holgate’s 1993 Afrika Odyssey expedition along the waterways of Africa. Caskie spent four years on an around-the-world expedition, traveling through the United Kingdom, Europe, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. He spent the last 16 months of his trip exploring and working in the United States (Alaska included), Canada, and Mexico. 

The NIU Alumni Association is excited to host Rob Caskie in DeKalb and Naperville March 6-7.

“This global voyage cemented my interest in people, cultures and history,” Caskie said. “The inspiration and courage required of exploration, adventure, and travel excite me enormously. Knowing they may end disastrously intrigues me. I have traveled extensively, which gives me some idea of the Herculean commitment these explorers made 120 years ago.”

Caskie has been fine-tuning the art of combining storytelling and adventure travel since 1997. He traveled with the NIU Alumni Travel Program on two Arctic trips, one classic Antarctica cruise traveling through the legendary waters of the Drake Passage in 2021 and an Arctic cruise adventure in search of the polar bear in 2023. On both trips Caskie served as the trip storyteller, captivating travelers with the history of Arctic explorers.

“Having hosted NIU groups on two adventures, the idea of finally visiting the campus is wildly exciting,” said Caskie. NIU will be Caskie’s first speaking engagement in the United States.

The NIU Alumni Association invites you to join Rob Caskie as he shares stories of heroic exploration that will inspire you and remind you of your potential for greatness. 

As Caskie states, “What you have achieved thus far is just the tip of the iceberg.”