The Lessons I Learned on the Mountaintop
By Sarah Burden, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist
Visiting Kenya was not my only adventure last summer. After spending two weeks in Mombasa, I traveled to Tanzania, where I joined a group of Compassion International sponsors in an attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. This was an adventure unlike any other. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me physically, mentally and emotionally more than ever before.
For six days, I hiked up and down Mount Kilimanjaro with a team of 26 sponsors and 91 porters and guides from African Walking Company alongside us. At midnight on day five, starting at 15,500 feet in altitude, we began our climb to the summit. We hiked for eight grueling hours in the dark with only the light of our headlamps to guide our way.
There were moments when I wanted to quit, turn around and go back down that mountain. My head was hurting, I felt nauseated and it was hard to breathe. I was tired. Besides, I'd already seen enough beauty and climbed higher than I'd ever been before. Wasn't that enough?
I wanted to quit. But I didn't.
With the support of my teammates and guides, I made it to the top of that mountain—all 19,341 feet of it! We encouraged each other, sang songs of victory and repeated anthems in Swahili—"Pamoja tunaweza! Together we can!" All of this, along with the support of our guides, gave me strength to take the next step and kept me moving forward.
Conquering that mountain was more than a check off my bucket list. The lessons I learned on the mountaintop, I carried with me back down to sea level, back to my life in Houston, and into my role this year at The Joy School.
Love this story?Learn more about Sarah's trip to Africa here!
About the Author
Sarah attended the University of Alabama where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders in 2008. She continued her education at the University of Houston to earn a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology in May of 2010. Sarah first fell in love with TJS when completing her graduate school internship in fall of 2009. After graduation, she had the privilege of completing her clinical fellowship at The Parish School, where she was a preschool Speech-Language Pathologist. Meanwhile, Sarah spent four summers working at Camp For All in Burton, TX, serving children and adults with special needs and chronic illnesses. Sarah eventually made her way back to The Joy School in 2011. In the summers of 2012 & 2014, she spent her time volunteering as a Speech-Language Therapist in Mombasa, Kenya, serving at Mombasa Children's Therapy Clinic and Tumaini Children's Home and Sirio School.
Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders from University of Alabama
Master of Arts in Communications Disorders from University of Houston