I hiked Mt. Everest to help refugees and learned to face fear


Elena KvochkoElena KvochkoElena KvochkoElena Kvochko is a CIO specializing in computer security for a financial services company and is a well-known expert in cyber security.

I immigrated to the US nearly a decade ago to complete my graduate studies after studying and working in Europe and my original country of Russia. I soon fell in love with the US and made it my permanent home.

The opportunities here for my line of work, technology and information security, have been amazing. I also found the US to have the most inspiring people and culture. Anyone, regardless, of who who they are or where they come from has a chance at their dreams.

That’s not true for everyone in the world. Despite all the positive developments in our economy and the many challenges we have solved as a global community, we still bear witness to inequality, lack of hope and tendency to resist change.

Elena Mt Everest 06Rope bridge my expedition crossed on Mt. EverestElena KvochkoStill, I have to admit, working in a growing industry makes it easier to forget what might be happening in other parts of the world. I kept feeling like maybe there was some bigger way to contribute.

Then I was introduced to Refugees International, a DC-based non-profit that helps identify the needs of displaced people to bring them protection and assistance. I decided to take on a big challenge to help raise awareness for this organization and their life-saving work.

And that’s how I found myself signing on for an expedition to hike in the Mt. Everest region, up to 18,000 feet. It wasn’t a summit expedition. I’m not a mountain climber and I live in New York, at sea level. But the lessons I learned from this experience have forever changed how I think about my life, what it means to be successful and how to accomplish any goal. 

I believe the US must remain a beacon and an example for others.

I believe the US must remain a beacon and an example for others.

Elena Kvochko

 I would like to thank Refugees International, my colleagues, team, and friends for helping me succeed on this journey that forever changed my life.

Photo credit: Thank you to my friends Aaron, Cristin, Jeanette for sharing some of their photos with me.


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