Juanito Scholarship gets going on the Ottawa

August 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Since the tragic and untimely passing of my friend Juanito de Ugarte last year a number of Juan’s friends have rallied together to create a scholarship fund for one young Peruvian kayakers to come and paddle here on the Ottawa river in the Ottawa Kayak School Keener program that Juanito enjoyed teaching so much.  This year the first young Peruvian kayaker has made their way up to Canada to paddle in the Keener Program.  Angela has actually never kayaked before, or actually ever left Peru, or ever been on an aeroplane, or spoken English.  So on the whole the experience is probably very over whelming.  Since I was teaching a beginner class I worked closely with Angela in her first week and after overcoming some obstacles including the usual apprehension that most people get whilst learning to kayak, and the language barrier she has progressed really well in a short time. 

 

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One of the driving forces behind the scholarship is one of Juan’s sisters Sandra.  Luckily for me Sandra has also travelled out with Angela and has been helping to translate as well as working on her own kayaking skills in the same beginner class that Angela has been taking through her first week here.  Sandra is a lot like Juanito in her attitude, outlook and energy, add to that the fact she is wearing most of Juan’s gear and it has been enough to make me double take at least once or twice.  

 

I am so stoked to be a small part of the Juanito Scholarship experience this year and I hope I can be apart of it again in the future.  Passing on Juan’s (and my) passion for kayaking is so special and to be passing it on to another Peruvian, is extra special.  

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