Andrés Ruzo ignites passion and excitement in captivating visit to CHC

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Photo courtesy of CHC

Photo courtesy of CHC

Photo courtesy of CHC

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The final distinguished speaker for this year, Andrés Ruzo, visited on April 12th. He is a National Geographic explorer, used to be sponsored by BMW, and worked with Google. Andrés spoke to both the Middle and Upper School about his passion for wanting to make a difference in the world through the environment.

Andrés described how he came into his love for the environment as a child by being fascinated with bugs and science. He told the story of how he used to scare his mom by putting things behind his ear or leaving them around the house. Throughout childhood he struggled in school with math, and a teacher of his, whom he described as an internet troll, told him he was not meant for a career in science.

Andrés didn’t let this stop him for one reason.

“Passion doesn’t have a language,” Andrés stated, and this left the audience with a new view on what they love to do.

Andrés told the story of seeing a class labeled Earthquakes and Volcanoes while an undergrad at Southern Methodist University. Underneath the class title it had the phrase: “Shake and Bake”.

He was intrigued.

He skipped his scheduled class, ran to “Shake and Bake”, and he begged the professor to let him into the class even though he was late for the first day. The professor let him in, and everything he thought he knew about the earth and volcanoes changed.

From that one class, his passion for geology grew from undergraduate student finding his way, to passionate Ph.D student, to exploring crazy ideas around the globe.

During his research, he recounted to the CHC student audience while walking around the Dreyfus, he remembered a childhood legend about a boiling river in the amazon. He started asking colleagues, professors, and other geologists to confirm this legend. The answer was “no” from all around.

He went home to Peru and his aunt told him how she had been to the boiling river. Andrés thought she was joking, so he took a trip with her to find out.

After quite the journey through the jungle, they saw steam that looked like smoke rising out of the forest ahead. As Andrés shared a picture, everyone in the audience was in awe. The childhood legend came to life. Andrés had found the boiling river.

The name of the river is Shanay-timpishka, which is loosely translated to boiled with the heat of the sun. The river is over two street lanes wide and can be up to 90 ft deep. The water temperature ranges from 80 to 203 degrees fahrenheit, and it can cause a person to get 2nd to 3rd degree burns in less than a second. Andrés told how he has seen animals fall into the water. These animals cook as they struggle to get out until the water gets into the animal’s mouth and ultimately kills them.

This river is truly one of a kind. No one is 100% sure how it boils. It does not heat up through a volcanic epicenter like in Yellowstone or Nicaragua. However, local tribes theorize that it is because of a serpent god who controls hot and cold water.

Despite years of visits and research, scientists still don’t fully understand the boiling water, but the work continues. Since stumbling upon the river with his aunt, Andrés is set to go back later in 2016 for his sixth visit.

Through his jokes and inspiration, Andrés left an impact on all CHC students. He was the second speaker in the past four years to get a standing ovation. Not everyone has a passion for geothermal research or the environment in general. However, showing how he didn’t have a natural talent for his passion and that struggling along the way is normal, everyone could relate.

His final question to the crowd was one of the quotes that students will remember most: “What makes you angriest?”

The follow up to that question was that the best thing to do is to have a career that helps fix the problem that causes you to get upset. That is where your true passion rests.

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