One of the things that makes UNIS special is that our faculty and staff are driven to succeed both in and out of the classroom. Rose Fico (pictured below on the right), a Teaching Assistant in Junior One, exemplifies this. Below is a piece from her about how she achieved her dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania:
Ten years ago I took a keen interest in global warming and its impact on the earth. I came upon an article about Mt. Kilimanjaro losing its snow due to this phenomenon. The information moved me so much that I began to deeply reflect on my carbon footprint. I decided that I had no choice but to go and see what is left before it's all gone. For many reasons, things did not fall in place so I was not able to visit Mt. Kilimanjaro that year.
During the decade that followed, the mountain was constantly in my thoughts; it was like something was pulling me toward her. This year my knees started having aches and pains from all the jumping jacks, long walks across bridges, speed walking to and from work, and Zumba classes. The sign from my knee made me realized that I could longer put off my dream of climbing my mountain.
This fall I finally connected with my mountain. I enjoyed walking, talking about the different plants and animals with the guides and stopping to take pictures in the rain forest, the moorland and the alpine desert. Walking through the alpine desert became a challenge for me once we left the section with plants. The air got heavy and so did my legs at the end of the six-hour walk to base camp. At this point, I was a bit worried because six hours later my legs needed to be fresh for the climb up the mountain. After dinner my guide told me that he would adjust the plan: instead of leaving at midnight, we would leave two hours later so my body could have time to recover. I was glad to find out that we weren't the only ones leaving later and this lifted my spirits. During the climb I faced many challenges. My heart would beat so fast that I thought it was going to break through my skin however once I slowed my pace things improved. Later my stomach felt queasy and every step was an effort but I was given tea and it all went away. My legs remained heavy but I just took my time to the top.
At the top, I was so tired mentally and physically but the sight of that sign saying I have reached the highest point in Africa invigorated me. Also I was sad when I noticed how the snow is receding to barely anything. It took a lot of strength to handle all the diversity I faced that day.
The mental strength that carried me to the top of Kilimanjaro (5895 m) changed me forever. Now I know that nothing is impossible. Never give up on your hopes and dreams and always believe in yourself.