Posted on November 17, 2014

After a physically and emotionally challenging 7 days, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) student Dana Al Anzy stepped onto the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, becoming the first Qatari woman to reach the summit of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. The Culture and Politics sophomore was part of a 12-person team of young Qataris and expats, including 3 guides, who were working to raise money for the “Elevate to Educate” expedition to build and renovate schools in Gaza through Reach out to Asia (ROTA). The team was organized by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, who last year became the first Qatari to climb Mount Everest.

“Dana's climb demonstrates one of Georgetown's core values: "women and men for others". Her selfless climb to raise funds for ROTA's Elevate to Educate exemplifies commitment to improving our shared world. The entire GU-Q community is proud of Dana’s achievement, and we look forward to continued leadership from her in the years ahead,” said the dean of GU-Q, Dr. Gerd Nonneman. When she joined the team, she was asked to commit to raising a minimum of 50,000QAR. Instead, Dana raised over 200,000 QAR. “It was a competition between the climbers to see who would raise the highest amount of donations for our cause. My personal target was 200K, but I had no clue how I was going to raise it. In the end, I passed that goal, so the lesson I learned was really to set your goals high even if they seem unachievable,” explained Dana.

From her university, Dana cites Dr. Christine Schiwietz, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, for her empowering support. “I took her class on gender roles, and when I wanted to back out of the climb, she pushed me to stay, and to take on the challenge,” said Dana. More support came from Heather Kerst, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Uday Rosario, Assistant Director Student Activities, and other staff members who helped with funding ideas, social media awareness, and encouragement. The Georgetown student decided to approach local schools for the bulk of her fundraising. “I went to schools in Doha, I knew capacity was there. Youth are passionate about the cause, and I reached out to them. I told each school that I would carry their flag to the summit, and they were in.”

Qatar Airways Houston

Through bake sales, festivals, rose sales, and a whole host of fundraising activities planned for each school, Dana mobilized countless young people, school administrators, friends and family from Aljazeera Academy Girls (AJA), Qatar Academy (QA), and Qatar International School (QIS), each of which raised over 50,000QAR. Corporate sponsorship also included generous donations from Qatar National Bank (QNB) and Qatar Financial Center (QFC). But fundraising wasn’t the only thing she had to do to prepare for the climb. “I joined a gym 2 months before our trip. We also practiced in the fire exit of the Torch building in Aspire, which has 51 floors and over 1000 steps. Plus, the fire exit has low levels of oxygen which was good preparation for the climb.”

Despite her physical preparations, Dana’s climb was not free from challenges. “I twisted my wrist on the second day, endured knee pain, and had breathing problems that led to fainting requiring oxygenation at 4600 meters elevation.” said Dana. But she also says she doesn’t regret one step of her climb. “Nothing is unachievable. Just because sometimes we feel marginalized, or limited by others, that doesn’t mean we can’t prove ourselves. Why did I decide to do something so crazy? It’s mostly because some people said I was not capable. So I wanted to prove them wrong. And I did. Now we have Qatari women proudly summiting peaks for such noble causes too.”