Appreciating Your Surroundings: The Importance of Taking a Second Look - World Class Academy

Appreciating Your Surroundings: The Importance of Taking a Second Look

Cowan observes a cascading tributary within the Canyon of a Thousand Waterafalls on the Upano River in Ecuador.

At World Class Academy we get the incredible opportunity to see and experience some truly beautiful places. I would consider myself pretty well traveled before World Class, but some of the destinations I have seen are amazing. Each outstanding in their own right, with interesting landscapes and unique animals scurrying around. Yet, sometimes the sights get left to the wayside, almost overlooked by the rivers and whitewater right in front of us. Between the kayaking and the school work, it seems like there is no time to stop and appreciate the natural works of art surrounding us. Recognizing this over the past quarter, I have really tried to take the time to stop, to look around, to appreciate my surroundings and to take it all in.   

The school gets close on a small beach during an overnight mission on the San Pedro River in Chile.

Entering into this quarter, I realized that I am truly lucky to be able to return to this amazing country. I attended World Class last year, and went to Chile in third quarter. As soon as I stepped into Pucon Kayak Hostel this year, a wave of memories flooded my mind about all the epic times we had last year. Yet, as the two weeks went by, I was stunned by the beauty that encircled the little city of Pucon. I already knew that Chile is a good looking country, but I was surprised that the beauty was something that I forgot. I made it my mission from there on to appreciate the landscape.

The Volcan river valley high in the Cajon del Maipo under rare clear skies.

My favorite spot to appreciate the nature around is obviously in the middle of the river. It way seem a bit cliché, but floating down the middle of the river and seeing the mountains pass by. It feels special to see something only accessible from kayak, it gives you a sense of exclusivity. I recall finishing one of the drops on the Rio Claro, and looking up into a massive over hanging cave. While being mesmerized by the cave, I could not believe that I had normal school earlier that day. Even more, I could not believe that I was in the middle of the Rio Claro, paddling twenty two waterfalls in a single afternoon. That is the part of World Class that can not be fully described. There is no way to transcribe the full feelings into words, yet those moments are sometimes never attained if those precious seconds are not taken. If you don’t stop and take a moment to appreciate the uniqueness of your surroundings.

Taking in the last rays of the day at the takeout of the Upper Misahualli in Tena, Ecuador.

Looking back, the Hairy Lemon in Uganda is one place that I wish I had been able to fully take in more. It is now under water due to the Isimba hydroelectric project and its a sobering feeling knowing I can never return to appreciate the beauty of its simple paradise. During my stay there I got really sick and I was not in a very good state to enjoy what that island had to offer. I am never going to make that mistake ever again, and I want to encourage every World Class student in to future to take the time to just simply look around. It may seem mundane or even boring, but it is something that you will regret whole heartily in you do not.

The stars above framed perfectly by the trees of the Hairy Lemon island. Sadly, these trees have been cut, and this island has since been flooded.

Student Body President,
Cowan Ramirez

Images by: Kalob Grady

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