A group of 20 Cornell students will trek to Mount Everest’s base camp 5,545 meters above sea level in May 2019, in an effort to raise between $45,000 and $55,000 for WaterAid, a charity that works to provide clean drinking water to people all over the world.
The trip is slated to begin on May 28, and 13 of 20 slots have already been filled. The trek was organized in partnership with Choose a Challenge, a London-based adventure travel company that organizes trips for student groups, who in exchange fundraise money for charity. Students who are interested in registering send their information to the trip’s campus leader, Elif Celikors, grad, who then provides more information on the next steps in the process.
Each participant is expected to use fundraising to accumulate $4,500 to $5,500, half of which will go to cover the cost of the trip, and the other half to WaterAid, the choice charity of Celikors.
“There’s a part of traveling that gives me cognitive dissonance… We are SO privileged to be able to jump on a plane and visit somewhere just for our own enjoyment,” Celikors wrote in an email to The Sun. “I wanted my travels to translate into something more than beautiful Instagram photos and interesting stories.”
Celikors recalled staying in a building with no bathroom while studying abroad in France and becoming attuned to the importance of clean water, which prompted her to choose WaterAid from the list of Choose a Challenge’s six partner charities.
“Shower[ing] in our bedrooms is a huge privilege, so [are] many other things,” Celikors said. “But having clean water, it’s a basic human right. It’s essential for health, education, any literally any aspect of life.”
Cathy Ly ’19, who will participate in the trek, is familiar with the outdoors, as she said she has been an instructor for Cornell Outdoor Education backpacking courses and outdoor adventure summer camps.
“I haven’t done any adventure tourism before this, but I’m really excited about the opportunity to combine my passion for the outdoors with a charitable cause,” Ly said in an email to The Sun.
Though Ly had not heard of WaterAid before joining the trek, she said she is “passionate” about WaterAid’s goals and “supporting the right to clean water and hygiene.”
“This is a rare opportunity for me to combine challenging adventure with a good cause, forcing me to step up and actively engage with my world and my beliefs,” Ly stated.
Choose a Challenge has sent over 12,000 students on trips across the globe and raised over $25 million dollars for charity since its founding in 2008, according to CEO Simon Varley. This year’s trip is the organization’s first ever partnership with Cornell, Varley told The Sun.
Kailey White, a representative for WaterAid, noted that trips like the Everest trek give students an opportunity to experience first-hand the issues their fundraising efforts are trying to combat.
“Often on adventure trips like the Everest one, students will be faced with lack of access to clean water and modern toilets as well, which is an opportunity for them to think more critically about how important those basic necessities are,” White told The Sun.
$55,000, the overall fundraising goal, would also be enough to fund clean water projects like bathrooms, hand-washing facilities and hygiene programming for five schools, according to White.